I have always had an interest in working bio dogs (Service, Military, Police, & Search and Rescue) before I learned about pup play, but it is interesting how similar the traits are. I didn’t know much about service pups until I met service pup Link. I had a pup for about 3 years before then, but we weren’t active in the community. Link saw an opportunity to use his service pup skills to educate and motivate me to become the Handler and Trainer I am today. It has been quite some time since that introduction. I took the opportunity in writing this article to work with him to educate everyone we can about what a service pup is.
A service pup can fit different roles as needed: to be an Alpha to a new or growing pup; to be a beta and a big brother; or to be the omega, a strong submissive. Because of this, one cannot just be a Dom or just a sub and still fit the role of a service dog. A service dogs not only plays these roles but also serve in the community as a whole. During large moshes you may see Service pups acting as a Handler for stray pups, talking to a shy puppy in the corner, lending their puppy gear, and keeping everyone hydrated. A service pup can even be involved with the aftercare and cooldown at a mosh, be it soft nuzzles or cuddling a pup still winding down from all the energy. In smaller moshes you may find them pupping out a bit more or creating a more inviting environment depending on who is moshing, handling, or training in the area. In this more relaxed environment a service dog can let go a bit easier because there is less that they feel they have to think about. It is important to know not all service pups will follow this example. Service pups have a “Do no harm” mentality. This may include biting, wrestling, pouncing, and encouraging others to mosh safely. However, you may also see them fetching drinks, holding the door, comforting others, or assisting the host. This service mentality should not be taken advantage of as like every human puppy, they can be overwhelmed and feel taken advantage of at times, be sure to gauge your service pups and check on them as they check on you.
It is important to note that asking for assistance is different than ordering assistance. On this note, I think it is necessary to understand that ordering a service pup just because he is a service pup is not appropriate. Asking for assistance, however, is a great way to approach a willing and able service pup.
I have noticed that most service pups are humble, and try to go above and beyond to make others feel welcome and safe in the community. After engaging with a few service pups, I have come to the conclusion that most every service pup feels happy when assisting and helping others, not because they feel the need to, but rather want to.
I did not want this article to be just our opinions. I have asked service pup Link; service pup Snuggles, Toronto Puppy 2017 and service pup Rex Shepard, International Puppy 2017 to answer these questions about their experiences as service pups.
Q and A
How did you find yourself as a service pup?
Service pup Link: I tried Alpha, omega, brat, beta, tried being a diaper pup once, boy/pup, slave dog, a multitude of pup identity, but nothing fit quite right, I like some things about each thing I tried, but couldn't fit in comfortably, I fell out of some faster than others. I couldn’t find a good fit, Pup mindsets are strange; some are about being yourself but letting go of what's around you, some are not being yourself and taking on a persona you want to be, some are heavily attached to things or people, some are completely detached with nothing holding them down. There are a lot of mind sets that flow with each pup heads pace, and the title or rank of a pup can change that with one-word difference. When i found service pups, it just fit.
Service pup Snuggles: I found myself identifying as a service pup almost immediately because I enjoy seeing people happy and winning their approval with my servitude to them. It's why I pursued an ambassadorial title, as it is a calling for me to serve my community as I would my master.
Service pup Rex: I have always been a service pup. I knew I was a service pup as soon as I realized I was a pup. And I was a pup long before I realized it. I do appreciate some pups can take a long time to realize it, but that was not the case for me.
What do you get out of being a service pup?
Service pup Link: Making others happy makes me happy, truly I really do want to make everyone happy, even if everyone says it's impossible, I want to try anyways.
Service pup Snuggles: What I get out of being a service pup it is going to be different for each pup. For myself, it's about feeling useful to my Dom/Master/Sir.
Service pup Rex: This puppy gets incredible joy from helping others accomplish goals. It is not about doing things they are capable of doing, most times. It is about using my skills, abilities, time, and/or money to help accomplish goals that otherwise would be difficult or impracticable for them to achieve. It is prioritizing service about other activities, without neglecting the responsibilities of life, because of the joy it brings. it is using intelligent to choose the service that will do the best, knowing that everything can't be done.
Also it is not about being take advantage of. The vast, vast majority of the community are honorable. There are however a very small number who will try to take advantage of a service puppy and try to abuse the puppy either by claiming the work they do as their own or to elevate their position. Fortunately, most service puppies are smart breeds and can smell them out. Worse case, the puppy still receives immense joy and know the real contribution they made - and likely so do most other people
How were you trained as a service pup?
Service pup Link: Honestly, training into a service pup took a lot of time and understanding of how someone trains an old guard boy. However, even though I do not identify as a boy, and should not be mistaken for a boy, I understand that puppy play derived from boys, so I think it is important to acknowledge we are alike. So my first mentors, and handler, and I came together to help find a submissive pup headspace ideal for what I wanted out of the community and what I could give back to the community. I was taught to always stand to the right of someone, I was taught to hold the door and wait to eat until everyone has been served (or my Handler/Dom/Sir has started eating). I pulled up chairs before sitting down, I mostly gave common courtesy to anyone that was along my path, whether I knew them or not. When it came down to it, my duty was to the community, and it made me happy and a better person. I still submit on all fours, my leash gives me focus, on two legs or four.
Service pup Snuggles: For training, my handler works games and tasks into our pup play time. The more detailed benefits I provide him as a service pup requires me to be fluid between alpha, beta and omega in order to best serve my sir.
Service pup Rex: Self trained. I believe that for many service animals it is their nature to care and serve. Many human pups do not need training, they just need to first recognize the trait and then act on it. For some it may be a minor role; for others like me it may be part of their prime identity. Maybe I should thank my mom for raising me with the appropriate values as well.
To sum this all up service pups are a special breed. Some of what they do comes to them naturally and others train. The one thing in common is they want to do this. Their role can be big or small, they take great pride on what they do, and care about how they do it. Service pups essentially “wear their heart on their sleeve” or they will give you the shirt off their backs. That is a part of who they are and what they have become today. Sometimes that can be taken advantage of. Even if that happens they still have this drive to help others. What they do is honorable & commendable. Here is my advice for Handlers that have or what to have a service pup; Understand them and what they do and why they do it. Be the support and protector in their life because they have a tendency to give more time to others and helping others make sure they take time for themselves.
Disclaimer: General puppy play at its base is a form of expression, it is a role that does not follow any rules specifically. In this article there will be opinions that may conflict with general information on puppy play.