Pup Kona, share some basic history of you and your activity in the pup community
My name is Pup Kona, an energetic puppy currently resides in Vancouver, BC. I am originally from Delaware, a small state in eastern US where I grew up in the mid-suburban forest area of the state. My journey in the puppy community began when I was residing in Orlando, FL while attending University. I am the past NW Puppy 2015 and current IPTC International Puppy 2015. I am the founder of PAHs without Borders, a community initiative who goal is to reach out to those in the puppy community through social media, especially to those who live in remote regions. I am also the co-founder of Paw and Pounce Weekend, an event which purposes to invite and bring the entire NW region together for a fun weekend, taking part in the joys of the puppy community. Also, this event is to help raise money and awareness for the regional NW Puppy and Handler Contest. I actively participate in local and regional charity events and member of SML, VAN-PAH, SEA-PAH, Sir Justin’s Kennel, and North Star Kennel Club.
Describe your earliest experience as a pup or handler. Please feel free to be as descriptive as possible (keeping in mind, however, that sexual explicitness is kept to a minimum).
One of my earliest experiences was when I was attending Anthrocon, a furry convention in Pittsburg, PA, back in 2012. One of my good friends, who I have known for over 8 years, invited me to a little gathering in his room. When I arrived, I found him sprawled across the floor on all fours, in full rubber with a beautiful custom made Rubberdawg puppy hood with a couple of other puppies. I haven’t had really much experience face to face with puppies at that time, but I did find it very fascinating, especially with the gear I saw before me. The interactions during this meeting were pretty subdued with puppy cuddles and light romping around the room. My interactions with puppy play, to any capacity, were sporadic from that point on till I came across the local puppy community, VAN-PAH, in late 2013. I started attending the moshes as a Handler with my ex, who asked me to and watch over him as he pupped out. After a couple of moshes, I found myself really liking and identifying with the puppy energy. A local Handler, Daddy Rodney, was someone at the moshes who I could easily converse with and slowly explore those puppy urges. One thing led to another, and I soon found my puppy side, sniffing and barking around the mosh floor.
What does being a pup mean to you?
When I think about what it means to me being a pup, I think of headspace. I feel puppy play in its rawest form is just that ideology. Being a puppy allows my mind permission to fully let go, to forget about all the things going on in my life. All I have to do in that moment is think about the here and now, what toy I want to play with, what puppy I want to tackle, how I can be a mischievous puppy to the Handlers, and overall just play! It’s that relaxing, freeing, playful fun energy I find very endearing as a puppy.
Describe an instance where your pup or handler personality came out at an unexpected moment.
There was a funny moment when I was at work, going over a few emails about a technical issue we were working on at a store location. As I was reading over the emails, I was also conferring with one of my colleagues on the issue and having generalized conversations in between. As we were wrapping up, my colleague said good job and rubbed his hand in my hair, as a funny way of expressing his gratitude. My direct reaction to him performing that action was me smiling and happily wagging my body like a puppy. A minute after he left, I just realized what I did instinctively and had a personal laugh about it. My colleagues didn’t catch on to my body language, which made it even funnier.
What are your thoughts on pup names?
A pup name is a way of self-identity. It puts the carbon footprint of our pupsona out there in the world and what it represents to us. When we dawn a pup name, we embody the essence of its meaning both internally and externally. My name, for example, was representative of my nature and behaviours when in headspace combined with my connection to the colour blue. I am not saying, by any means, that a name has to be of such unwavering significance. Some can just pick a name because it has a nice ring to it. My thoughts come from my own personal experience and those of some of my puppy companions.
What are your thoughts about sexuality in relation to pup play?
Sexuality exists, in all forms, no matter what you do or are into. Puppy play is no exception. My view is that the foundation of what puppy play is, is headspace. It is not a sexual thing. However, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with engaging in sexual play or acts in puppy play. It is what you make of it and what works for you. Overall, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, do what makes you happy and don’t yuk someone’s yum (as the saying goes).
Where do you see the pup and handler community in relation to the broader leather/kink/fetish community?
The pup and handler community continues to grow at an exponential rate. More and more as time goes by, you see different avenues emerge for which people discover the community. It is not just subjected to the broader leather/kink/fetish community. I feel over time, you will see the pupa and handler community become more inclusively its own thing and do its own thing. However, it will always take part in and participate to some capacity in the events and practices as well as the communities as a whole.
How can you see Judging in IPC 2016 helping teach and mentor the wider pup community?
I feel when you are judging any contest, it allows you the opportunity to have conversations you might not normally have about the community as well as a window into the minds of those who are involved in it. You have the ability to instill insight and perspective from positions others might have not considered as well as learning from them yourself. These exchanges forces all parties involved, if it’s a judge, panelist, contestant or attendee, to push their boundaries, share their ideas and experiences, and witness the teaching and mentoring of others, thus making all of us grow. Me being a judge in IPC 2016 was just one avenue over many that provided an outlet for teaching and mentoring the wider pup community.
What are your pup community goals?
One of my goals for the puppy community is highlighted in my international community initiative called PAHS without Borders. The goal is to promote mentorship, support and conversations between pups and Handlers all around the world in the effort to give every pup and Handler a chance to grow, be heard and loved. I want to encourage others to reach out to those who are looking for someone to start a dialogue, gain a mentor, and/or experience the joys that the pup community has to offer.
My other goals are to continue to travel all over the world, spreading education about the pup community and share in the inclusive, fun energy that the community exudes to all. Also, to learn and gain insight from other pup communities on how they do pup play and share in our experiences and practices.
Within the pup world, how do you view the significance or meaning of a collar?
Collars can hold many different meanings between the parties involved pending on the dynamic and conversation. It can have the same intimate level of meaning as a wedding ring to some or just a form of gear and decoration for another. Again I feel that the significance of a collar to you is what you make of it. What I will say is that whatever way you view collars, it’s important to treat collars with the mindset that it could be something sacred and personal to the puppy/Handler, so treat it with the upmost respect. Don’t go running up to a puppy and grabbing and yanking on it like it’s some toy or game of tug and war. Lots of pups with collars and locks on them have them for a reason. My puppies, for example, have collars and locks on them because it shows they are part of my pack, I am their Alpha and protector, and that I love them dearly. In the end, if unsure on the significance of the collar on someone’s neck, just ask!
In terms of gender identification, sexual orientation, age, or any other “descriptor,” the pup and handler community is often touted as being very inclusive. What are your views of ideas regarding this?
I believe one of the very things that makes the puppy and Handler community so incredible is the inclusiveness and acceptance of all. Puppy play is about having fun and taking enjoyment in that energy. I don’t care what your size, age, race, weight, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc… It doesn’t matter one bit. Everyone has the right to be loved, heard, and take part in the awesomeness that is the puppy community.
Who is allowed to reach out and be a mentor in the pup and Handler community?
This could very easily be on a pup or Handler’s mind when reaching out to another pup/Handler and also wanting to do more for the pup community.
It is easy to quickly tell yourself you need to hold a certain position, have a title, be involved in the community for a set number of years, etc… thus dissuading yourself from reaching out to others and the community.
Anyone is allowed to reach out, support the community, and be a mentor. It is not subjected to age, sex, sexual orientation, race, years spent in community, etc…
The greatest asset and requirement a mentor should have is the love, honesty and willingness to reach out to another with the upmost sincerity. Be willing to educate yourself and be informed, know your resources, understand the wants and needs of the mentoree, and open yourself up and listen to one another.
– Pup Kona