SAN FRANCISCO — Men are dogs, some more so than others.

There are those, for example, who wear puppy hoods, harnesses, chain collars and tails while out and about. Sometimes they appear in packs. While hardly as mainstream as walking the red carpet with kink-adjacent accouterments, dressing up doggy style has become more visible in San Francisco and beyond.

Puppy play enthusiasts are part of a larger community interested in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, collectively known as B.D.S.M. Participants primarily consider it a form of sexual role play, because they get to act like puppies — friendly, frisky, often nonverbal — and gain pleasure from doing so. Adherents, lots of whom are young gay men, adopt pet names: Pups named Turbo, Wonkey, Level, Twitch, Trigger, Cakes, Amp and Mowgli spoke to me for this story.

“You stop using words and start communicating in growls. It’s really fun,” said Phillip Hammack, 42, a University of California Santa Cruz psychology professor who goes by Pup Turbo. “You’re disconnecting from the human side of thinking about every little thing you’re doing. You’re being instinctual and playful.”

Jason, a 27-year-old entrepreneur in Boulder, Colo., who goes by Pup Level, said that pup play has accentuated the tendencies he had before he began practicing it. He said his puppy gear allows him to “be more who I am.” (The Times agreed to not use his last name to prevent professional consequences.)

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We Live in Packs by Blake Montgomery

April 26th, 2019