Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pups and Handlers Project - an Academic study of #PuppyPlay

Puppy-play has been around for many years - and of late has even entered the public consciousness - but as yet, there has been very little serious academic study of either the phenomenon or the community. 

I'm glad to say, that's changing.

You might have seen some posts on the puppy social media about the Pups and Handlers Project. This is a formal academic research project aiming 'to explore and describe the experiences of individuals who engage in pup or puppy play' - and is being led by two esteemed UK anthropologists: Dr Jamie F. Lawson (University of Durham) and Prof. Darren Langdridge (Open University). At the heart of the project is an online survey, links to which have been shared via the various online puppy groups and social media. Some of those who respond are then also offered a further skype-delivered interview, to give them an opportunity to talk further about their experiences - and I've just had a very pleasant hour or more doing just that...!

Dr Jamie is very easy to talk to (he's a queer activist himself, with some knowledge of the scene already, even outside of academia), and an excellent ethnographer - letting me talk freely without interuption, whilst occasionally prompting with some interestingly engaging questions. Sadly, I think I talked his ears off - but I had warned him that I might: I may be a pup, but I'm also a Librarian and a philosophy graduate, and I can happily talk forever about identity, consciousness, zen, reality, queerness and BDSM (just ask my poor long-suffering Handler...!)  

I certainly enjoyed the exchange - and I think he found the interview useful too...

I really do think that this is a very useful study, and one that will help to clarify serious understanding of both the community and our individual experiences and drives. It will certainly explore our scene in a deeper and more meaningful way that the usual 'oh look: how odd!' coverage that we've had so far (nice though that has been). 

I look forward to being able to share further details about the project and its findings as and when these are released. Meantime, why not follow the project on twitter (@PupPlayProject ) - and help out by completing the survey: (especially if you are a Handler or Owner - who are shockingly under represented!) 

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Biking in Snowdonia - Tuesday

Our last day, and time to start heading home - but not before another hearty breakfast...

Sir wanted to take our time going back, so we headed up towards Bangor and then back into the Snowdonia National Park along the old coaching route through Tregarth and Bethesda.

James (our pet name for Sir's Sat-nav) got a bit confused with way-points that we had set on our way up and so we got a wee bit lost outside Betws-y-coed - eventually finding ourselves on a wonderful B-road adventure up the side of a tiny valley and out over the top of the moors - before we finally found our way to Penllyn and Bala for a much needed ice-cream by the side of Bala Lake (enjoying both the assorted swimmers and kayaks, and enticing several other bikers to stop for a break too...!).

We managed to get a little lost again when James tried to take us off down some B-roads  - but soon re-orientated ourselves at the Cross Foxes underneath Cadair Idris, and then made our way though the more gentle mountains of Powys to Newtown.

Wilting with the heat (and the dog's rucksack), we managed to find our way to Maesmawr Hall: a lovely old Country House hotel that Sir had stayed in when touring with the Gay Bikers; there we stopped for a while to stretch our legs and have a long cooling drink. Refreshed, we then followed the baby River Severn all the way to Llanidloes before jumping to the River Wye at Llangurig and on to the reservoir outside Rhayader.

From there we were back on more familiar ground as we headed first to Leominster, joined the M50 to Tewksbury, and finally the M5 home to Prestbury... (for the pup at least - Sir still had to face another hour to Bristol on the M5!).

All told, we managed close to 600 miles in four days - and that despite some of the hottest weather the UK had seen in 40 years! We saw some amazing locations and shared some fantastic moments - and I would not have missed it for all the world.

Thank You Sir! I look forward to the next time I can share your saddle and be your very happy bike-pup and loyal companion!
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