I have been thinking a lot about how far puppy has come over the years I have been in it. These are my thoughts and feelings and what I feel from the heart.
I discovered what being a “human dog” was back in the 80’s when I lived in Houston. I trained to be a Sir with Master Michael (Little Misery) and while He saw in me the capability to be an effective Sir to the point I was awarded my flog by him, He also saw in me and was the first to say I had some very canine traits and felt I was more Alpha than Sir. I spent many years in the Houston community and sadly had to move in 99 just as the first puppy contest/event start to enter the planning stages. I knew all those involved and was proud to call them friends.
As the years progressed, so did I. Sometimes it took me longer to learn the lessons I needed to learn. I had to learn patience, openness, honor, acceptance and knowing that sometimes things or relationships don’t work out like we want them to. I had to learn that the hard way with former pups. Even though I thought everything was there at the beginning, it wasn’t and after trials and tribulations I learned that not every pup is for every Handler. Also that if you have a pup that is never really happy with you and growing together and learning together, that pup, chances are is looking for the next latest and greatest “dream” Handler and you are only a stepping stone till they find the next one that they think can be everything. Sometimes they will eventually find it, sometimes it will be a lifelong search leaving a series of un-fulfillment for all involved.
With things the way they are today, you might think you have found the “virtual” dream person but with that has to come “real life” and that is the thing where you really have to click and match up. You might be great online together, but annoy the shit out of each other in person or you might find that there is no chemistry or that you want something completely different than the other does.
Sometimes the stars and the planets line up, and you find that special someone that things really do mesh together to make what is not only great as a couple or partners but also in the Handler/Alpha and pup relationship.
Someone had commented that the history and legacy of Puppy must be protected. I agree, we have to remember where we are from but we also have to learn, grow and evolve as the community does if it’s going to keep the momentum it has. I really think back to how the Leather Community was back then and how it is now. Yes we do need to remember our history and those that have come before us, as they are the ones that helped pave the way but also we have to grow and adapt to change. Way back when, we had contact magazines where you wrote to a PO box, then we had something amazing called BBS’s come into existence when more and more got computers and (gasp) modems. From there we had AOL, groups, IRC, chat and as time went by, something called “social networking” happened. Even though there have been places like Pupzone, Doghouse and Fetlife for years, it really had somewhat of a boundary, limiting those that could/would participate. I know first hand that on some of those sites, you have those that will only allow things they want to be posted or events promoted and it’s kind of sad and frustrating. How can things progress if those who should be excited about things growing don’t want them too because they don’t want to give up control.
There wasn’t so much a focus on forced protocols back then as much as it was just the way things were. If you were a boy (or pup) and you wandered into the Ripcord wearing a collar, it was hands off, unless they talked to your Sir before interacting with you. Today there really isn’t that type of respect for the most part. For pups as time has passed, I have seen less and less a questions asked about the collar they are wearing and if they have an Owner or Alpha. Sirs and Alphas would have great conversations, learn from each other and the same from the boys (and few pups that were around) The word COMMUNITY really had meaning.
Before social networking, you would really take time to learn who someone was and what they were about. You had to because you were pretty much located in the same city. Being collared was something that was not an overnight thing but evolved over time. I still remember the now somewhat antiquated 3 collar system – collar of consideration, training collar, formal collar. Each of those was earned over time.
Today for many, they find the puppy community in whatever avenue that use. It’s like suddenly the lights go on and the AHA! moment happens. For some, it’s something inside that has been trying to get out but not know how and others it is a new kink they want to try out. There is nothing wrong with either, and both sides have to respect the other for what they are looking to get out of puppy.
In saying that, the puppy community needs to be more accepting for what pups are wanting. Some pups want to be “show pups”, others “working dogs” and others just a loving companion that wants to play fetch. If you want one or all of those, that is great! Don’t disparage others for what they want. If you don’t like or want to be a part of a contest, fine, others do like that and want to do that. If you love being in a mosh pit that’s fine but if a pup doesn’t like romping and rolling around and instead just wants to play fetch with his Handler and that is where they find happiness, that is what it is for them.
Just like pups need to be accepting that there are male, female and transgendered pups. That there are pups that sex is an integral part of their pup play, while others, there are no sexual aspects in their play. Be kind, considerate, and understanding. If it’s not something that is part of what puppy is for you, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it just means it’s not right for you.
Each of us is unique as a human and as a Handler or puppy. Make puppy your own, but also make it safe, friendly and welcoming to those that are just finding it or just learning. It’s also very important to realize that learning things online is great but you HAVE TO HAVE REAL LIFE, IN PERSON EXPERIENCES to complete the learning process.
For those of you that have been around awhile, REMEMBER – We all had to start somewhere. We all needed to find others and places to learn what we know now. Don’t be short or snarky with someone just because they don’t know. If someone has a misconception, help them learn the truth, if they are considering something unsafe, make sure they know the facts before jumping in with all paws.
Let’s make 2013 the “Year of the Puppy” and really show what COMMUNITY means!!
Christopher “Papa Woof” Roth is the Producer of the Midwest Puppy Contest and Executive Associate Producer for International Puppy Contest in Tampa, FL. He and his puppy Boo can be found running the Bad Dog Grill in Saint Louis, MO http://www.baddogstl.com