Sir and I had heard about the upcoming OiFest #PupSocial when we ran our own puppy-play workshop at the Bristol Leather Weekend; it's been a while since we have attended a purely pup event, so it seemed a perfect plan to head up to Birmingham and see what it was like.
Sir drove - with both of us feeling warm in our full leather, and a trunk full of gear. The pup had found a cheap room at the Paragon - which looked very impressive in turn-of-the-century red-brick splendor in the pics, but proved to be rather UN-impressive once we got to our (tiny and very basic) room...
Still, we were there for the social not for a luxurious room, so we dropped our cases, made a quick change from leather into rubber, pulled on our boilersuits and headed back down to the car - with the dog hopping into the back as we headed down to Boltz.
It was still afternoon so Sir was able to find a parking spot just outside the club; He locked on my leash and made me wait patiently on all fours beside the car, waiting for a safe gap in the traffic before trotting me across the road and buzzing at the club door to be let in. The poor doorman took one look at Sir's High-vis Dog Handler uniform and white flat-top cap, and thought He was the real Police doing a raid; it took quite a bit of persuading (and a look down at the rubberpup accompanying Him) before he would let us in ;)
The downstairs club-space was surprisingly busy for a Saturday afternoon, but Sir had me trot straight through and up to the #OiFest event taking place in the social space up stairs. There were lots of horny skin guys around in bleachers and high-laced boots - and tons of stalls selling jeans, boots and skin gear - and it was nice to see the lovely guys from Dogs Bolloxx there with their stall too. They made a real fuss of the pup and gave me some lovely gingerbread doggy-bone biscuits (and Sir some curiously carnivore beef-and-onion ones!); sadly, however, they hadn't got any further in organising for us to deliver our pup workshop at the LeatherPride Belgium Camp k9 event in February...
Sir let me look over their gear for a while, then took us on a short trot around the stalls - stopping to say hello to the various traders He knows - and then led us through into the bar: following the sound of squeaky-toys and puppy-mayhem...
Sir's friends Nigel and Chris were both there at the bar, so Sir stopped to say hello - and then left His pup in safe hands whilst He went to find some drinking straws for the dog. Neil was really sweet, and knelt down so that I could have a friendly face in view - but I still kept one eye on the door: trying to find were my Man had gone - and the other on the crash-mats were all the pups were happily rough-and-tumbling at play.
Sir finally found some straws, and let me hydrate with a few gulps of cold lemonade - then He led me over to the pup-space to watch the frolics a little closer.
Richard and Andy had both done a great job in organising everything - with nice big clip-together crash-mats so the pups could jump about without hurting themselves, and a TON of toys and squeakies to play with. They had even made up individual doggy-bags for each pup to take home with them, each containing a ball, a dog-pull, and a squeaky-toy - for which, of course, this pup showed a hugely happy tail-wagging Thank you!
I've always shied away from puppy-moshes before. I'm a wee pup and surprisingly shy - and have always feared being overwhelmed and knocked about too much in the rough-and-tumble. But Andy and Richard kept a close eye on everyone, and stepped in when any pups got over-excited or aggressive - which made me feel safer, and so I was soon drawn in to a fantastic game of chase-the-ball with a wonderfully pupped-out Rubeus (who I've known through Pupzone for many years, but have never had the chance to actually meet) and the incredibly cute pup Xanto. Both Rubeus and Xanto were infectiously excitable, and incredibly good at getting even the shiest new pups involved in the games (especially Rubeus: even when he was totally in the zone, he always seemed to have one eye on the newest pups in the mosh). It was an honour to watch them both, and you couldn't ask for a better representation of how a big-brother pup should look after his pup-bros if you tried.
There was also a fantastic moment when Xanto finally worked out how to get the Maltesers out of the treat-ball - resulting in a cascade of chocolates and a baying scrum of puppies trying to hoover them up despite the various handicaps of mitts, hoods and muzzles (with sweet Rubeus coming to the rescue of one poor pup in a huge, spiked muzzle from Dogs Bolloxx - feeding him chocs one-by-one through his hood...).
I know there were a lot of photos taken - and one fantastic video that Xanto shared of he and I deeply involved in a game of squeaky-toy bounce that ended with everyone in stitches of laughter - but in all honesty I was blissfully lost to the world. Who could have thought that joy really could be found in just the smell and sound of a squeaky toy - that you could have so much fun chasing a laser-spot across the floor - or that you could lose yourself so completely in a simple game of 'Stay... Fetch!' (for which I must thank the sweet man from Dogs Bolloxx - sorry, I never got your name, but those moments focusing on the raggy, then waiting for your permission to 'fetch' were the most intense moments of puppy head-space I've had with anyone other than my Man...).
I was a wreck by the end, and leaving great pig puddles of sweat that leaked from my rear-zipper - much to everyone's amusement. Sadly, I also managed to split the knee of my pup-suit on something sharp: the second suit to go whilst pupping-out (making me wonder whether I should progress to something more 'robust' when at public events in future...). But I can honestly say I have never had quite so much fun. EVER. All the Handlers and owners were so supportive and encouraging, and the other pups so idiotically perfect - I really will hold that afternoon as a beacon of puppy-heaven for a long time to come.
And the best bit is that Andy says Liam has agreed to let them stage another PupSocial in January...!!!!