Tyke: My name is Tyke, and I am alpha guard dog to Liliane Hunt and The House of Hunt.
Interviewer: Because it wouldn’t be a photo of The House of Hunt without Tyke. Have you always had feelings that you were a human pup?
Tyke: Yes, actually. It actually started for me at a very young age. The earliest memory I can think of is preschool. That’s 4 or 5-ish. There were a group of girls who would be play tea party, and I would hide in the swing set underneath where the little divett was and be their puppy while they did tea party.
Interviewer: That’s a really early discovery. Did it develop over time?
Tyke: Growing up, when you stop playing so much, it evolved and into what you see now, but there were certain aspects of it that continued throughout my life.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little bit about Tyke? My understanding is that Tyke’s a playful pup, a bit naughty at times?
Tyke: Tyke is definitely playful. … Kind of naughty, but there’s always a line, and it’s okay to put your toes against the line, sometimes on the line, but never over the line.
Interviewer: Because I’ve seen many videos, and Tyke does a good groove. You’ve got a good sense of rhythm, which I think is really fun.
Tyke: Thank you. It helps when you’re leading an entourage of animals, especially as an alpha, to set the pace no matter what that is. If we’re walking through Folsom, one can certainly lope along, but why not make it fun because that’s what animal role-play is all about.
Interviewer: Yeah. Can you tell me what are three things that drives your passion for animal role-play?
Tyke: Freedom is definitely the number one and the most important, trust, and structure for me.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about the structure that you’re talking about?
Tyke: I spent a lot of time in the military, so functioning and living in a structured environment is certainly something that I thrive at, so having that bleed over into puppy play is something that I personally enjoy.
Interviewer: Because the military position is a vital element for The House of Hunt. Does the pup play- Is that a relief from the structure or is it a continuation of it?
Tyke: Both, actually. I mean there’s different levels to it. If we’re doing a training exercise, that definitely enforces structure. If we’re doing a public event, that’s where I’m providing structure to the other animals or house members. Then, being at home and just playing is just that for the most part.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful.
Tyke: Whether it’s with Liliane or with another puppy.
Interviewer: You mentioned that it’s a relief. Is the word relief or release?
Tyke: Release. I’m not sure what word I used. Sorry about that.
Interviewer: It’s okay, but …
Interviewer: … it’s a sense of giving away of stress or …
Tyke: Absolutely, being released from essentially the bondage of everything that you’re supposed to be as a human.
Interviewer: As Tyke, you can give away your human shackles for a set amount of time.
Interviewer: Is Tyke an extension of your personality or a separate part of your being?
Tyke: Oh, that’s a very interesting question. I think they’re definitely together. I think they’re definitely together. She has to be on here too. I think they’re certainly together. There’s a time and a place for all of it, but it’s not a compartmentalised disassociation with left and right. They are together. Now, it’s a spectrum, but, at the same time, it’s not separate.
Interviewer: Some people, they talk about this almost dissociated state when they’re a pup. Is this something that you’ve experienced or seen people experience?
Tyke: I’ve certainly seen people experience it, and, if that’s their way to achieve what their ultimate goal of puppy play is and that’s what they get from it, more power to you. For me, it’s a release from responsibility, from whatever’s going on at work or home or whatever you’re dealing with, but it’s not a dissociation for me.
Interviewer: Yeah. You’re still grounded in yourself and your human side at the same time.
Tyke: Depending on the level of headspace, yes, but it’s never a complete dissociation because you can definitely be in a fully immersive headspace but still aware of …
Interviewer: What’s going on.
Tyke: … what’s going on around you.
Interviewer: How did you come to Ms. Hunt?
Tyke: Oh, that’s a really fun story. The first time I ever saw puppy play, I saw Liliane Hunt. I forget what year it was. I know she was wearing a red jacket, so whatever year that was. I had a friend who said, “Hey, can you drop me off at this fair?” Never heard of it before. I said, “Sure, why not?” I dropped her off at this fair, and I said, “Oh, I think I’ll take a walk around.” I had been involved in some other communities that were not specifically BDSM, not specifically anything like that, but teetered along the edge of that. I said, “Oh, this is fun, and then I saw some puppies, and I said, “I don’t know what that is, but I want to do that.” Then, walking through Folsom, I had saw Liliane and her entourage, and I said, “I don’t know who that is, but I need to know who that is.”
Went back home, poked around. Google is a very powerful tool, especially if you want to know who Liliane Hunt is. In researching, “What is Folsom? What is puppy play? And who is this?” I found all the answers online, and I had kind of cyber stalked her for about a year because I didn’t have the courage to- I mean what do you say? There was an avenue. At one point, she posted about a human fox hunt, and I mean her description of this event was just phenomenal and something that I certainly wanted to be involved in, so I said I would do anything to be a part of something like that. 5 years later, here I am.
Interviewer: Have you participated in a human fox hunt?
Tyke: I have, in a few.
Interviewer: What’s it like?
Tyke: Oh, it’s great! It’s great. There’s a fox or 2 or 3 who I mean I think there’s even been a lemur, and they are the animal that wants to be chased, caught, and whatever. There’s puppies, and there’s barking and running and trampling through the woods and the ponies are there, and they’re running after it. It’s fantastic.
Interviewer: Wow. What sort of time [stand 08:38] does a hunt go over?
Tyke: A couple of hours, but it’s a part of a weekend typically.
Interviewer: Because, in Ms. Hunt’s video, she’s mentioned that she holds these training events for people who are interested in animal role-play. That must be quite an amazing experience to participate in.
Tyke: It is. I’m very fortunate to be able to be a part of those things. There will usually be a weekend, and then it’ll be broken down into different sections. The hunt themselves usually last a few hours, then we’ll break for something else and then go back our to hunt.
Interviewer: Wow. Do you find that … It must be quite a different- People leave an event like that different to how they arrived.
Now, you mentioned that you are the alpha of The House of Hunt.
Tyke: I am.
Interviewer: What does the alpha role mean to you?
Tyke: Well, our house functions very similar to a military group. She has the officer, and I am the sergeant. She wants something a specific way, and I carry it out. It means to me to provide structure that she puts in place to the other individuals of the house to give them guidance, to get them support, and it’s reciprocal. They do it to me and her as well.
Interviewer: In many ways, Ms. Hunt is a visionary within the community. Is part of your role to help bring those visions into fruition?
Interviewer: You’re like the- I don’t know what the term is in Disney term, but the animatronic, sort of the creative engine.
Tyke: I definitely am one of the key aspects to helping create the visions that she wants, and- What’s the word I’m looking at? These beautiful pictures that she paints so I can be the pup behind the curtain.
Interviewer: That’s fantastic. In the 5 years that you’ve been with The House of Hunt, I can certainly say that human pup play has changed significantly in the past 5 years. What have been the biggest changes that you’ve noticed?
Tyke: I think the public nature of it now. I mean, in just the last 5 years, it went from me having to actively seek it out to it being very, very public. Maybe it’s just my selected Facebook feed, but it seems to be everywhere, which is a good thing. I guess it can be a double-edged sword, but it is a good thing. I think the biggest thing is how big it’s become.
Interviewer: You mentioned a double-edged sword. Is there a bad side to that?
Tyke: I think it depends on all the publicity that we’re getting.
Interviewer: You must have got a significant amount of publicity when you were on Nat Geo.
Tyke: We did. We did.
Interviewer: How was that? Did you feel a mini-shift within the community when that was first come to air?
Tyke: There was definitely a shift when it aired. It takes a little while for things to trickle throughout the world, so to speak. I think, for me, as one of the individuals that was featured in it, it certainly had a certain amount of responsibility in being a public figure to the people who would reach out to you or to me. Because of that, you’ve made the choice to speak about this, and now you speak about that.
But I think it’s also given a lot of puppies that otherwise wouldn’t have found out what puppy play is but always have those desires. Again, when I was 5, I didn’t know what Folsom Street Fair was and a leather puppyhood. Those tendencies have evolved, and I don’t imagine that that’s any different for puppies that have never been to folsom. But, here, they have this outlet, and it’s like, “Oh, that’s why I feel this way. That’s why I want this. That’s why I do this.” It makes sense.
Interviewer: It clicks.
Tyke: It does.
Interviewer: I still remember my own distinct at [Dorelli 13:38]. The connection with Folsom, there must be something in the water at Folsom.
Tyke: There’s something.
Interviewer: With that, have you had people come up to you in the streets just going on, “Hey, you’re Tyke.”
Tyke: I have.
Interviewer: How do you feel about that?
Tyke: I think, again, it’s a sense of responsibility. “Yes, I am,” and it was about education to begin with. I’ve been very open about it, and I usually approach it in that way.
Interviewer: In many ways, you’d normalise it. “Yeah, sure. I’m Tyke. How do you know me?” Which could be interesting.
Tyke: Exactly! It typically is. It typically is.
Interviewer: Ms. Hunt mentioned that you have a wide spectrum of people that know all of you.
Tyke: I do, which is I wouldn’t say surprising. It was interesting at how wide of a spectrum people who don’t know anything about puppy play have seen me and followed me, and I think they might be the normalising of it, the normalising aspect of it, because it is completely normal.
Interviewer: How did you feel knowing that you had a very young fan?
Tyke: … Oh. You can’t lie to children. They will know the minute you’re trying to lie to them. The fact that a child saw me and knew that this was authentic, it was quite humbling.
Interviewer: Yeah, or that would be like, “Oh my God, it’s like …”
Tyke: It’s humbling. It’s powerful, but it’s powerfully humbly, and, again, with the responsibility that comes with that.
Interviewer: Yeah. You may have guided somebody along to the pathway where they feel accepted.
Tyke: Exactly. I do get a lot of correspondence that says that.
Interviewer: If your correspondence is anything like my inbox, I imagine it’s not easy to keep up with, but I always hope persistence pays off.
Tyke: It does. I endeavour to at least reach out to everybody that messages me or anything. There’s various different channels, so some I might get back to you faster than others, but …
Interviewer: If somebody wanted to contact you, how would they do that?
Tyke: I am on Facebook under Tyke Hunt, don’t say those too quickly together, or Tyke Puppy. Then, we also have thehouseofhunt.com where you can send us an email. I’m pretty active on everything though: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, whatever other ones I’m not remembering. But Tyke Puppy everywhere.
Interviewer: Perhaps, to wrap it up, can you tell us: Where do you see pup play in the next 10 years?
Tyke: I can speak from an individual standpoint, which is Tyke will continue to evolve. Pup play is a community. If we were to compare pup play to ice cream, I think, with the evolution and with the public nature of pup play, it’s inevitable that it will branch off into subsections. Whereas rubber and leather pups were more predominant, I mean now we have neoprene and furries, and I mean furries were number 4, but you have all of these different flavours of pup play, so I think that can only grow.
Interviewer: If you had a younger- When I say younger, I mean somebody who’s not experienced in pup play, because they can be any age, what advice would you give them? How would you suggest that they get their paws wet?
Tyke: I think what you have to do is decide what you want from it before you can decide how to get there. I think that’s buried somewhere in Alice in Wonderland. You have to decide what you want. What do you want to achieve from puppy play? For me, it was those 3 things and, ultimately, a sense of freedom. “Well, what do I have to do to be free? What do I have to do to have this? What do I need to do?” Then, once you have a destination, then you can figure out how you’re going to get there. I think the first thing that you need to decide when exploring puppy play is what you want from it.
Interviewer: That’s really good. That’s very powerful when you think about it. It’s like ask for what you want, say what you don’t want, and then negotiate the journey.
Tyke: From the very beginning, I said I would do anything to do that.
Interviewer: And here you are!
Tyke: And I am here, and on camera.
I think it is about staying true to yourself, and I think it’s about finding your bliss and not finding anybody’s else pre-formatted box of what your bliss should be. If you’re going to try to put puppy play in a box, then you might as well leave the gear off and not even be a puppy. You might as well stay a person. If you think, “Well, I have to do all of these things to be the perfect puppy that all of these people say I have to be to be that,” well, you’re kind of losing the …
Interviewer: The vibe.
Tyke: … the vibe of being a puppy, which is let’s have fun. I mean, for me, it’s let’s have fun. Let’s have structure. Let’s have fun. Let’s be free. Let’s play. If you’re trying to shove it all into this box of what you think puppy play should be, well, it’s kind of defeating the purpose.
Interviewer: In many ways, and I’ve often said this, it’s a little bit political, but I’m not a believer in the why should be there in an international pup because they were able to do an obstacle course or something like that. How is their pup experience different to anybody else’s pup experience? I don’t want to draw you into [crosstalk 00:20:19]
Tyke: Oh, you mean as far as like titles and such?
Interviewer: Yeah. I’m not sure whether a pageant’s the best way to prove that you’ve found what you want to find.
Tyke: I think they have their place for certain individuals. I’ve never personally competed for a title. That’s not what speaks to me as puppy play. If it speaks to other individuals for their puppy play, by all means. I think the criteria can be judged as such for each individual puppy, but we, Liliane and myself, have definitely been on panels for judging. In myself, I have never judged one puppy against the other, and that was one of my … I had said this before when I was asked, and I said, “Well, I’ve never done this.”
How do I do this? Well, it’s not fair to judge one against the other because, if you put me against you, I’m 5 foot tall, and you’re going to run an obstacle course a lot faster, and it would just be different. I think you can judge an individual, and are they being the best that they can possibly be, and is that best going to promote international whatever? And that’s not even specific to puppy. But I think it’s not about judging one against the other. It’s about judging you and what you’re bringing in.
Interviewer: It’s a level of self-actualization of you’ve created the best damn puppy you can be.
Tyke: Exactly, exactly. The best damn puppy I am isn’t necessarily what …
Interviewer: Someone else’s is.
Tyke: … someone else’s is. Somebody might want to be a poodle, and there’s nothing poodle about me, but they can be the most awesome poodle [crosstalk 00:22:09].
Interviewer: Good. Do you identify as a breed?
Tyke: I do. I’m a Doberman.
Interviewer: But you’re not fighty like some Dobermans can be …
Interviewer: … or does that come in at times?
Tyke: Oo, I’m not sure about that. I don’t feel fighty. That’s the whole fight or flight. I’m certainly a lot more stubborn than …
Speaker 3: There’s more fighting.
Tyke: There’s more fighting to it.
Speaker 3: [crosstalk 00:22:34]
Tyke: All 5 feet of me.
Interviewer: I can imagine. I would not like to cross your pathway.
Tyke: That’s where the name came from was Tyke.
Interviewer: What does Tyke mean?
Tyke: I’m going to give another secret away, which my name came before the puppy …
Tyke: … so, I don’t know if anybody watches Looney Tunes, but Spike and Tyke. I have a tendency to hang out with very large people. A couple of friends said, “Oh, there’s Spike and Tyke,” because I’m 5 foot and he’s 6’3″ and probably weighs about 250, and I’m 5 foot and weigh about 125. The name just kind of stuck, especially when I’m a puppy and I’m typically around large men, so there’s Tyke.
Interviewer: That’s wonderful. What a great story to go with the whole layers of Tyke the pup. That’s amazing. Thank you so much for your participation.
Tyke: Thank you.
Interviewer: We are exceptionally proud …
Tyke: Thank you.
Interviewer: … to have The House of Hunt on this site, and we really appreciate you taking part.