Although Sir and B. had chatted a little in the bar the night before, neither B. nor Tank had had much chance to talk to me (besides 'hello boy!' and 'good pup!') - so we had to start with a few introductions; then we settled into a long and relaxed buffet breakfast and chat...
Some of it was simply practical: from what kinds of knee pads and gloves we recommended for protecting knees and hands (I've found wrestling/MMA pads and padded sparring gloves the best: they're tough, designed to stay put even when engaged in intensive exercise, and whilst the sparring gloves may lack the 'helplessness' of mitts that some pups love, they do allow me a little independence and 'tactile sensation', which my Man appreciates) - to where we got my rubber dog-hood (wet hot rubber - made to measure, and with plenty of options; but best of all: with a removable muzzle so my Man can easily get access to my mouth and tongue whilst I am still hooded and deep in pup-space; important for keeping me hydrated, feeding me, *and* getting His meat serviced...!)
Tank and I also talked about some of the practicalities of being in pup-space: from how to move about naturally (again, the parkour concept of 'quadrupedal movement' works best: up on the balls of the feet, with a flat back and a strong core; try not to lean forward over your hands, but keep the weight back over your hips and legs - that will save your shoulders and neck getting tired too quickly, and also makes you 'light on your feet'. Don't try to have your hands palm down: that'll bugger your wrists - instead, 'walk' on your knuckles with your thumbs outside the fist; try to keep your wrists strong and straight. It takes practice, but its worth it) - to how not to be trampled in a crowded bar (keep yourself tucked close to the bar and your Man - use His body, legs and presence as a shield - follow in His wake - especially when moving through the crowd. You should trust your Man to look out for you, but never pup-out to the point that you lose awareness of just how invisible and trip-worthy you are! And lastly, if you can, get an LED flashing collar or a high-vis harness).
Sir dropped in lots of hints too, of course: like always having a long straw handy so that the dog can drink from a bottle or glass without drowning himself - and *always* carry a torch (it's amazing how often a dog will drop things in the dark...!).
B. in particular wanted to know a little more about how I feel as a puppy: what motivates me, and how I came to be so 'natural' when in 'role'. He said that he had grown up around bio-dogs, but that being a Handler to a dog-boy was something completely new to him; he and Tank have also been together as a 'normal' couple for many years, and so he wanted to know how to move in and out of play in a way that encouraged Tank's need for puppy time but also respected the practicalities of their 2-legs relationship (you cant expect your partner to suddenly be looking after you 24/7, nor can you to pup-out in front of his parents or the supermarket check-out girl!)
That latter question was a harder one to answer: although Handler and I have been together for over 6 years, we both have separate life-long partners, and don't actually live together. Although our time together isn't always 4-legged, or even purely pup'd, still our relationship is founded on that initial interaction as Man and hound - everything else grew from that pure and simple bond of love and obedience, and it is always at the heart of everything we do, as pup or as friend.
It can be harder when your relationship began on other terms. My Geoff and I did try some pup-play when that side started to develop in me, but he's never liked bio-dogs much anyway, so the idea of a 4-legged boy-friend never appealed ;) At that point I was also still caught in the "pup = curr" misconception of the role, and the 'play' I kept taking us into was anything but - he had explored BDSM, power exchange and sex-magick for several years both before and after we met, but he finally had to call a halt to our pup-play, saying that he loved me too much to let me use it as an excuse to have him mistreat me and feed my guilt and self-loathing...
Meeting my Handler changed all of that - and changed me; He helped me forget the guilt, cast off my low self-esteem and embrace the *real* pup inside me: obedient, submissive and devoted to Him, true - but equally: playful, curious, joyful and fun. He helped me learn that a pup is not a curr, but a much loved and deeply treasured companion, playmate and friend.
And He helped me discover that puppy-play is *PLAY* - silly and funny and seriously profound - and if it doesn't put a grin on everyone's face (and a bone in your breeches), then you're doing it wrong.
That said, we did suggest that a pup's collar is always a good way to mark the start of play - or for either to request it (e.g.: if Tank wanted some pup-time, he could come playfully with his collar in his mouth, and drop it at B.'s feet - or if B. notices that Tank could do with some pup-time, He could rattle the collar and call 'Here boy: walkies!')
It's also important to remember that the timing for our puppy needs don't always match those of our Handler and partner - we pups can get quite obsessive, and see pup-time as 'time-out' - but full on pup-time can be exhausting for a Handler, both mentally and emotionally, so we shouldn't be disappointed if all they want is for us to quietly lie at their feet and play with a chew toy... (don't knock the power of the chew-toy - there is *nothing* quite as satisfying as lying with a squeaky newspaper between your paws at the end of a stressful day...!)
It was a fantastic chat - and Sir later admitted to several Dewey-eyed emotional moments to hear His pup talk about how much our play - and His ownership - means to me. He also had to muzzle me a few times, just to put a stop to my endless theorising and gabble! ;)
We finally had to call a halt when Tank's yawns got so big Sir worried he'd break his jaw (it had been a late night for them too!) - and when the hotel staff started clearing the breakfast things ready for lunch...! But we parted promising to stay in touch - and hopefully meet for some shared pup-time and 'Handler-mentoring'
With the guys off for a nap, Sir and I decided to head out to the suburbs - hoping to make a visit to Black-Body. Unfortunately, we had forgotten it would be a public holiday - so after a pleasant trip out on the U-Bahn, we found the shop shuttered and closed.
Undismayed, we had a stroll around - looking at the curiously austere apartment blocks and wintry parks of the suburbs, and finally stopped at a little cafe by the station - before heading back to Schoenberg (and making one last visit to Mr. B - where the dog bought itself a new leather uniform shirt to match its white-piped breeches - and Sir decided that the new low-cut style of their jeans might look good on short-arsed hounds, but were decidedly not designed for Masters of more 'adequate' stature and height...)
We then had a last fantastic supper at our little Italian - and went back to our room for one of the most satisfyingly *animal* fucks Sir has ever given His dog...