Hello everyone! Today I am BEYOND THRILLED to welcome the fabulous J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry to the blog! If you have been a regular reader here, you know that we are big fans of both of these authors. They are here to talk to us more about their new book, The Good Boy. Which is AMAZING by the way. Seriously, so good. I have my review running later in the week, but don’t wait. Just go buy it. Really.
Ok, gushing over. So you know we are in for good times today because Lisa and J.A. are here talking about puppy play with us. Things are never dull here, ladies and gentlemen! So buckle up and join me in giving Lisa and J.A. a big welcome!
Lisa: Let’s talk about puppy play. C’mon, you know you want to.
This isn’t something that I’ve ever done in real life. The closest I’ve come to it was actual puppy training and it was terrible.
“Pogo is only on his second week, and he can already sit and stay,” a lady told me.
Well, bully for Pogo. Cleo, meanwhile, was on her sixth week, could neither sit nor stay, and at that moment was wriggling around in the grass showing her belly off to all the handsome boy dogs. In retrospect, maybe she had the whole puppy play thing figured out.
I’ve always liked dogs. When I was five my best friend was a dog. His name was Oplika Spot. We were a pack of two, and we wandered the neighbourhood scrounging food and chasing cats. He bit me once, but that was a total accident. Some other scary dogs were fighting, and came through a hole in our fence, and I got caught in the middle when Oplika Spot joined in. I can still remember my mother racing me up the back stairs, blood everywhere, while I screamed, “It wasn’t Oplika’s fault!” When your best friend is a dog, and your second best friend is an eighty year old woman who doesn’t speak English and feeds you bananas while she cooks lunch over a fire in her backyard, you tend to have less rigid parameters when it comes to judging “weird”.
But I think, like a lot of people, the first time I found out about puppy play — as in consenting adults acting like puppies in sexual roleplay — I was a bit thrown. But I was also a lot intrigued. Intrigued enough to think past the “weird” factor and try and figure out exactly what it was that might draw people to that sort of scenario. The humiliation? Sure, humiliation can be hot. But what really interested me in the end was the opposite of that: trust, and comfort, and the idea of belonging to someone. Looking at it that way, puppy play isn’t weird at all.
J.A.: When I was a kid, the knees of all my pants were worn out because I spent so much time pretending to be a dog. I constructed an agility course in my driveway that consisted of a metal bar supported between the rungs of two ladders, which I had to leap over–and which I set ever-higher in my quest, apparently, to die at age ten. It is a testament to my West Virginia blood that nobody seemed to think this was dangerous. When I got older, I started working with real dogs, volunteering at a shelter, pet-sitting, training, and grooming.
I also, as I got older, came to terms with my BDSM interests and spent a lot of time online looking at kinky pictures and videos (in those days, I did not know the internet had a History tab. Luckily, I don’t think my parents did either.) Eventually I discovered the adult kind of puppy play. At first, it made me a little uncomfortable. Like I said, I spent a lot of time with real dogs, and the idea of sexualizing the noble canine was a pretty YKINMK moment for me. “You can’t mix dogs and sex!” I thought. “Dogs are pure!”
It was the sort of hands-over-your-ears la-la-la denial evoked by, say, the thought of your parents having sex–no, it never happened and you were conceived in a sterile, unerotic vacuum, synthesized from primordial elements, coalesced by gravity, and eventually carried by an army of diligent fairies into the nursery your parents prepared just for your completely agamic arrival.
But once I learned more about puppy play, I changed my tune.
The thing is, puppy play has nothing to do with an attraction to or fetishization of actual dogs. It’s about giving and receiving affection, comfort, a place within a hierarchy, and a safe space to let loose and just be. For some players, there is a sexual and/or a humiliation element. For others, it’s completely nonsexual. For still others, it’s something in between. But I think a good deal of puppy play is about freedom and empowerment rather than servitude or debasement—about living in the moment, as dogs do, and checking human worries at the door. Why did I used to run around barking and jumping over steel hurdles? Because sometimes it’s fun to take a break from being human.
That’s definitely what it’s about for Lane and Derek in The Good Boy. What’s cool to me about the play in this book is how organically it happens. Lane never sits Derek down and says “Okay, I want to pretend to be a dog. Here’s what breed and how old I am and can you put some newspapers down so I can pee on them?”
It happens because Lane doesn’t know how else to ask for what he needs. He wants so much for Derek to take control, and he’s so painfully shy, that puppy play gives him the opportunity to feel loved and guided, as well as permission not to speak. Consciously, he may not know or be able to articulate that he wants puppy play, but his subconscious sees an opportunity and runs with it.
Lisa: Puppies can be happy, enthusiastic, and need a firm hand. They can also be shy, skittish, and love to be petted. Lane is definitely the second sort. I think, in the end, it’s not so much about puppy play as it is about two men finding out what they need from one another, and the different forms that your need can take.
J.A.: And I will say that given how often my own dog tries to hump other dogs, and, occasionally, me (whilst I lie unsuspecting in my yard, reading on my Kindle), it might be past time to put aside my view of dogs as innocent, asexual beings. And given the number of dogs I know from experience will poop in a bathtub or try to eat scissors, I think “noble” is also out.
Introverted college student Lane Moredock is in a bad place. His mother has been arrested for securities fraud, his father is on the run, and everyone, including the SEC, suspects Lane knows where the missing millions are. Lane, with no money and nowhere to live, makes a desperate deal that lands him in trouble and leaves him unwilling to trust a so-called Dom again.
Photographer Derek Fields lost money to the Moredocks, and is as sure as anyone that Lane is guilty despite his claims. A chance meeting with Lane shows him there might be something more to the young man than arrogance and privilege, and Derek wonders if Lane might be just what he’s been looking for: a sub with the potential to be a life partner.
As Lane slowly begins to open up to Derek and explore his needs as a submissive, the investigation closes tighter around him. Lane might be everything that Derek wants, but first Derek needs to trust that Lane is innocent–and Lane needs to trust Derek with the truth.