Speaker 1:… Time within the community. You’ve held training events-
Speaker 2:I have.
Speaker 1:To help people learn a little bit more about animal role play.
Speaker 2:I have. From a class, which is simply a “I don’t know what this even is. How do I do this? How do I do this safely? What does one do with these human puppies”.
So from an hour, hour and a half, two hour class, to fully immersive weekend of jumping in and really doing this and living this for 48 hours.
Speaker 1:So what would somebody sort of, what’s the term? What would happen at a 48 hour immersion?
Speaker 2:Well what we did with training camp because a lot of our crew have a military background, which is really interesting to me. It seems maybe how we do things really resonates with people or individuals who have that kind of background.
It began suddenly with Tyke as that family became more and more public and people saw how we did things. It drew more and more people who have that background. So training camp was based on a very much military format. We had our military pups and we were on a piece of land of several hundred acres and it involved expeditions fully in the woods as a pup, and also training and commands and military officer. A lot of what we did had another layer to it. It wasn’t just simply being a pup in the woods, but it, and this is probably my theatre background as well, we also had military pups because I became fascinated about the role of animals during warfare, which is not something that people really even think about.
And it became really relevant to me that here I had these individuals coming into my life and asking me how do I do pup play, and there was this common theme amongst them that they had this background in the military. So I combined these two elements together.
Speaker 1:Do you think people who’ve had those high adrenaline experiences, people who’ve had to fight, people that perhaps animal role plays is a release for them, a relaxation.
Speaker 2:Very much so and I think a sense of belonging, in a sense of that pack because if you look at being a part of a troop in the military is very much that. So I think that sense of being a part of something and having a goal that you’re collectively working towards, whether that’s just simply in the weekend with different activities.
I think that as human beings we have lost what it is to truly be authentic, and to play, and to connect, and to bond, and what is so powerful about pup play is that it allows you to do that. It takes away the human inhibition of “Should I? Shouldn’t I? What would people think of me?”, because none of that is relevant. It’s about being really present, and being in the moment, and being together.
Speaker 1:Do you think that’s what’s driven the massive search in people’s interest in pup play?
Speaker 2:I believe we live in a world were we are constantly connected to our cellphones, constantly connected to social media and yet, the amount of times I hear on social media people talking about feeling alone, and so here we have this hyper connectivity and at the same time, I feel that we are in many ways more alone than we’ve ever been before.
What this animal role play and puppy play does, is it brings people together from all over the world and we become part of this family, and that breaks down into smaller little groups and smaller little packs and tribes, but we are part of this thing, this commonality. And it’s about connecting. It’s about being present. It’s about play. It’s about having fun. It’s about taking care of each other. It’s a really beautiful thing and I think as human beings, we need this.
Speaker 1:I think the role of family is quite disconnected now, so it’s [crosstalk 00:05:11] the recreation of family roles.
Speaker 2:Very much so. I very much feel that.
Speaker 1:And you do have your own family. Can you tell us a little bit about the House of Hunt?
Speaker 2:Right. Well, the House of Hunt began, well I should talk about Tyke.
Speaker 2:So, I had been working with different animals and playing with different animals and I felt a need to find a specific animal that I could really work with, a human animal, and that we could really try and together really see where that went, spending that one on one time together. So I sort of have a little confession, that I was looking for a pony and I couldn’t find the one; and I had been on a human fox hunt in Los Angeles and I came home and I on social media said I had a really great time, it was wonderful, and Tyke responded and said “I would do anything to do that” and I said “What’s stopping you?”.
So week later we met at a tea lounge where I like to meet people cause you learn a lot about people having tea. And when I walked away from that meeting I said “I don’t know what this is but I do know it’s something really special”. And that was the beginning of this wonderful relationship with, in my opinion, the best human puppy in the entire universe. And because our dynamic was so special and so loving, it brought other individuals to it, who said basically “I really like what you’re doing. I’m really drawn to what you’re doing. I would love to be a part of that”.
That really, in many ways, was the beginning of the real nucleus of the family of what we have now, which includes many different species of human animals as well as some interesting human characters as well.
Speaker 1:So at serious we go quite deep into personas and the education of movement of the bodies and stiff like that. What’s your sort of perspective on training in human pup play?
Speaker 2:In human pup play specifically, well it depends on who I’m working with because I’ve met people who are absolutely brand new to it, who say “I think I like this, but I’m really not quite sure how to do this and how do I even do this? Like what even is this?”. So, one of the ways, I mean it depends on the person because different approaches work differently. One of the ways I’ve done it is to say “What kind of a dog are you? What breed are you?”, because I often find when people really discover, or human pups discover their breed, then they can start to connect to what it is to move, what their drive is, where their drive is.
So I feel like that is one of the ways I approach, but different people are different. For some human pups, there’s very much this metaphysical transformation and they would calm really, this is this sense that I fall into this, that I step into this, and when I’m in this world, nothing else exists for me, I’m fully in this. And other individuals are more … [crosstalk 00:09:11] tentative. Yeah, and there not sure and they can’t let go.
Speaker 1:Would you say that that’s the allusive pup space that people talk about?
Speaker 2:I think people get a little hung up on it, what pup space really, really is, because I think it’s so different for each pup that I don’t think that there is this Nirvana or pup space, that it’s this one place to go to. I think that it manifests itself, pup space, when you learn to let go and that is the process that’s different for every single individual. The funny thing for me, I think, the real sense you’re beginning to connect with it, is when the pup emerges in the human space, when somebody is standing in line at the checkout and they hear music that they like and there’s this spontaneous little [inaudible 00:10:14] that just happens. I think that is when you know that this connectivity is really happening.
I think that when human pups get so hung up on “What is pup space? I haven’t found pup space. Maybe I’m losing my pup space”, they’re thinking about it too much.
Speaker 1:Absolutely. What would you recommend to somebody who’s just coming into pup play, they’re not quite sure what direction to go?
Speaker 2:Well, pups are pups. Pups play and so, one of the things that I would recommend is that they actually try to find other pups. They try to go to a march. That they see what that’s like and that even if they’re shy and even if they’re not so sure about stepping onto the mat, that they just start to engage. If that is not an option for them, they’re in the middle of nowhere and they don’t know anyone, then it really is just a question of, well what kind of a pup are you? Are you a playful pup? Are you a guard dog?
I think finding your breed, is one of the first steps, being able to step into what that is. If you’re a playful pup, maybe it might be a trip to the pet store and find the squeaky toys and the ball that you like and it feels comfortable to you. Or if you’re a guard dog, embodying those traits if you are doing it by yourself when you’re home, and being present to what is going on outside the space that you’re in. So you are being a guard dog at home. You’re embodying the physicality of that dog. You’re sensing what it is to be that dog. You’ve seen what it is and you’re hearing, and you’re being present. I hear a noise in the background. Should I be aware of that noise? Is that a noise of danger? Someone’s coming to the door, moving and altering your body accordingly. You see with bio-dogs, the ears go up, the tail goes up, the body goes up. So embodying these traits, and I think, and I go back to it again, finding your breed is one of them. It’s what kind of a dog am I.
Speaker 1:Absolutely. Do you have much thoughts about the naming of pups? Do you believe that it’s something that’s organic that comes to a pup or is it something that’s more handed to a pup?
Speaker 2:I think it depends. I really do believe that there’s not one type of pup and there’s not one type of how to do pup play. There’s doing pup play safely, which I think is important across the board for every pup, for every handler, for every trainer, there really needs to be a common ground of doing things safely. You’re not feeding your human dog dog food out of a can, which I’ve heard too. You’re not putting prong collars on your human dogs, and then pulling them and yanking. So there needs to be a commonality of what is safe.
Moving on from what is safe, there’s many different pathways that you can take and for some pups, it certainly is rite of passage to be named, and they wait for that name. Tyke came with a name and that was a completely organic experience for him, to have found his own name and his own identity. I don’t believe that there’s one book that says wait, you have to do this way and then you are gonna be given your name. I’ve certainly named some of the animals that I’ve had and then some have come to me with a name.
Speaker 1:It’s interesting cause dogs in and of themselves, bio-pups, do have quite distinct personalities and it must be … I’m not familiar with horses, I’m not familiar with centipedes-
Speaker 1:So, what’s it like interacting with other species? So if you’ve got a human pony, how does that differ to dealing with a pup?
Speaker 2:Well, I think every human animal, regardless of species, is very much their own animal. So for example, I have three bio-dogs. Each of these three dogs will respond differently to my simply calling their name. One will take longer to come, one will immediately run the minute they hear me in the kitchen. So the same principle applies to all these different human animals. There isn’t a “This is how I am with ponies, and this is how I am with puppies”.
Now, gear, and when they’re in gear, dictates certain things. So I’m aware of how much water they might need. They’re overheating. They need to take a rest. I’m aware of the physicality on their body that certain types of gear will necessitate with a full head on. That means certain things, specially in the heat and in the sun, and so forth.
But very much the animal will come to me and communicate, and it might not necessarily be verbally, “This is how I want, this is what I would like”, but I study them and I watch them, and in a way, their animal starts to speak to me I’ll start to notice it, and then I respond to the verbal and non-verbal communication.
Speaker 1:So observation is a key.
Speaker 2:It’s key. It’s key. There isn’t a cookie cutter. If I had five human puppies in this room, there might be certain commonalities but they would all be a little different. They would all need something slightly different from them. I could certainly throw a squeaky toy in the middle of the room and there’s probably a good chance that they will become excited about the squeaky toy, but they would respond differently. When in group, one of them has the squeaky toy and one of them doesn’t, well then it might be different. One might sit in the corner. The other might try to find a way to steal it.
So it’s very much like that with human animals. I would watch them and I would study them, you know, take into consideration their gear. There’s always a human body, so what I think is essential, is in order to be fully immersive as a human animal, the human body must be taken into consideration. Does it need to rest? Does it need water? Is it overheated? When all of these boxes are checked, then you can be fully immersive.
Speaker 1:Absolutely. Yeah, it’s just so nice to be sitting with somebody who’s talking [inaudible 00:17:34], it’s really nice.
Speaker 2:Right. I check the floor so if I’m going to have human animals on the floor, I make sure just as I do with my biological dogs, that there isn’t something dangerous on the floor that they could bang into, hit themselves with. I think it’s common sense.