Spending a Night in the Doghouse
By Paul W.

From NewsLink, Winter 1998-99

Animal is a twelve-year-old, 180-pound Rottweiler named Boner. After three masters, he's on his own as a self-described "alpha dog," and he's sharing his experience, his life as a dog, with others: encouraging young pups and offering advice to new masters. Those in attendance at GMSMA's meeting October 14, 1998, had the opportunity to learn about the canine experience from one of the best: a really good dog.

Dog Consciousness
All knowledge,
the totality of all
questions and answers
is contained in the dog.
—Franz Kafka

There are those who self-identify as a dog more easily than others. In Animal's case, he explains that he had an affinity—an awareness—of the dog within him before he even realized that he was gay. Animal is quick to point out that the s/m experience is not required in being a dog. He does find, however, that it is within the s/m community that he feels the most free to express himself, to act out his fantasy (or his reality) as a dog.

"This transcends role-play," says Animal. "If you truly have an affinity for the canine part of yourself (and others) you can go to a place where you and your master forget that you are two human beings and become a man and his dog."

The Relationship
If you pick up a starving dog
and make him prosperous,
he will not bite you.
This is the principal
difference between a dog
and a man.
—Mark Twain

During his twelve years as a dog, Animal has had three masters. He describes them as the one who brought him out, the one who named him (Boner), and the one who caged him.

I'm using the term master to describe the human component of the man/dog team. And a team is what a man and his dog truly are. Despite the term master, this relationship shouldn't be confused with a master/slave relationship. While dogs should be obedient, it is not a prerequisite that they be slaves. Dogs are man's companions, playmates and soul mates. They are happy to serve their masters, but for the most part they are not slaves—nor would their masters want them to be.

Behaviors here are those that are mutually agreed upon, and are safe, sane and consensual.

The canine affinity is instinctual in some. If you're looking for a dog, Animal recommends you go up to someone who looks like he has potential and scratch him behind the ears and pat his head. It won't take long to determine whether he has what it takes. Does his tongue hang out as he starts to pant? Does he whimper? Lick your hand?

If so, well, I guess you can figure it out. And, while you might find someone to play with in public, Animal feels public places are not the best contexts for man/dog experiences. Generally, this is best a private scene. A place where it's just the two of you is going to be the most rewarding for both members of the team.

The relationship involves hard work (physically) for the dog and thoughtful work for the master. For a human who is really experiencing life as a dog, it is physically strenuous. A dog's neck is different from a man's. (Be careful with that leash.) A dog's teeth are stronger than a man's. (Remember that when you're playing tug-of-war or feeding treats.) And the dog doesn't want to have to think about differences. A good master remembers the differences and allows his dog to experience the similarities. Allows him to be a dog.

They say a reasonable number of
fleas is good fer a dog—
—keeps him from broodin'
over bein' a dog.
—Edward Noyes Westcott

The dog experience is not one that requires a lot of expensive equipment. A collar is a must. While most leather/fetish shops have a selection of collars to choose from, there are also about a thousand pet supply shops in the city where you can find the genuine article. And there they are most likely going to be cheaper. (Of course on the other extreme, Gucci carries a very nice line of dog accouterments—including collars.)

The next article is something that effectively removes the use of the opposable thumbs. Animal uses a beautiful pair of padded leather bondage mitts. He points out that Vetwrap or even heavy woolen socks also work effectively.