Editor’s Note: Old Dog and the New Pack

If you hadn’t already guessed from my byline, I’m into pup play. I know, shocker.

Editor's NoteHowever, unlike the current generation of pups working on drowning the world with licks, I’m actually a bit of an old dog. Pup play wasn’t my entry into leather and kink. And ten years ago, when I first started barking, there were no pup groups. Pups were usually simply one of the other types that were in the leatherboy groups along with boys and slaves. There were maybe a couple of information sites and one forum for pups.

Add into that a couple years when I stepped away from leather because of severe burnout and you get a little bit of a culture shock. Now there’s roving packs (in the best possible way), websites and vlogs, and large and growing groups of pups on social media. And they’re all so, so young.

I know, I’m only 38. However, my knees aren’t quite as tough as they were at 28. Thank God for the new gel knee pads that are available now. Also, I simply don’t have the same level of energy that I did back then. It almost makes me tired just to see all of them bouncing and running around. At times, I feel like an old farm dog just waiting to swat a pup that goes “playplayplayplayplay” one time too many. Besides, in dog years, I’m like 70.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled the pups are coming out. And they are so adorable. And they’re EVERYWHERE.

But it feels odd, for lack of a better term. As much as I love being a pup, and I do, it has never been quite as central to who I am as a leatherperson. Maybe it’s because I came into pup play after I’d already been into leather for a few years. Plus, after a decade, I’ve found all the different ways that I fit into kink. I’m a pup, a leatherman, a writer, a publisher, a masochist, a sadist, an exhibitionist and so on. Which one that’s on top depends on the situation and the mood. However, no matter what, you scratch behind the ears, my right leg is gonna shake and you will hear pup sounds.

It does feel good to see a new generation coming into play. True, it’s made me realize that I’m no longer a newbie and think about how truly long I’ve been in kink. (It will be 16 years this year.) It’s also made me think about my age a little. One pup I got to play with recently was a high school freshman when I first got into pup play, I don’t want to think about his age when I got into kink. I’m not an elder, but I have become one of those who can be a mentor for this new generation.

They do give me hope. As the community continues the shift it’s going through right now (more on that in later columns), it will be these pups who will be among the new faces of the community. Not the only face, by any means, but an important one. They will be among the leaders that will take the community forward. They’re already becoming those leaders. Pups are increasingly among the most visible and active members in many cities nowadays. And that’s a good thing. And it’ll be up to us old dogs to nurture and guide them without having the leash too tight.

Ruff Wray is the publisher and founder of Great Lakes Den. He lives in Chicago with his husband Jeff. He can be contacted at editor@greatlakesden.net