With a number of new changes and World firsts post the pandemic AT speaks exclusively to The Puppy Europe Team to find out the current state of everything in the European fetish doghouse.
Tell us a little bit about your new name European Puppy and handler Contest?
When the first Mr Puppy Europe title was awarded to Pup Kriszly in 2015, the pup scene was still very much limited to a few fetish events and venues around Europe. Between 2015 and 2019, we saw a change and the pup community started growing faster than anyone could have imagined.
Part of that growth came from media exposure with documentaries like ‘The Secret Life of Human Pups’, which our very own Zentai Spot was involved with, and a lot of it came from the dedicated pup events that started pupping up.
It was at these events where the community started noticing the wider LGBTQIA+ wanting to be involved, whether that was trans, female, male, non-binary, queer, ace or ally, pup play was growing and attracting interest from everyone.
Over the past couple of years, a lot of the national titles started dropping the ‘Mr’ pronoun, to better reflect the diversity in our community. It was as a result of these changes that we took a long look at ourselves, and we realised we also needed to change to better reflect the community in which we serve. As such we are looking forward to seeing the very first ‘Puppy Europe’ elected at Darklands this coming May.
You are also creating the first European Handler title. Why do you think a Handler title is needed?
Handler titles already exist in the USA and Australia, and many organisations there already elect Pup and Handler (PAH) at the same event, with the purpose of helping and supporting each other. This allows them to focus their efforts better to improve the pup scene as a whole and this helps to bring a different perspective on what pup play can be when a handler is involved.
With the growth of the European pup community, there was likely an expectation that handlers would jump out from behind trees and steal all the puppies. This never happened and so there is a distinct absence when it comes to Handlers and with it the experiences they can offer to pups.
By no means are we saying that all pups should have a handler, it is down to the individuals concerned how they choose to play and interact with others (consent is key in any circumstance). Whether that is pup, Alpha, beta, Owner or Handler.
There is definitely a gap where having more handlers could help to diversify what people’s experiences of pup play are, and having an elected Handler to help drive and shape that across Europe is the main goal behind creating the new title.
What have the team been up to then?
We have all been extremely busy these past few months in trying to plan and organise both contests.
Pup Bentley (Mr Puppy Netherlands 2017) has been coordinating with the Darklands team, so that the contestants have time for interviews, presentations and performances. A lot of work goes into planning where we all need to be over the weekend.
Puppai Buumi (Mr Puppy Europe 2019) has been busy creating the application forms, and acts as contestant care as soon as the applications close and the contestants are known.
Zentai Spot (Mr Puppy Uk 2015-16), has been busy building and designing the scoring for the new Handler title as well as refreshing the Puppy Europe scoring.
Kitty Rony (Chairman of the European Puppy and Handler Contest) has been stuck on a ball of yarn for a few weeks, he just can’t seem to untangle himself. Hopefully he will before Darklands.
And a special mention goes to our social media manager Pup Hero, who keeps us on our toes when it comes to social media, and helped to design our new logo.
There is a lot of behind the scenes work to ensure that the election goes well, and now we have the European Handler title it has just doubled our work, but it is all worth it.
You have a new logo, where did the inspiration for that come from?
Our new Logo takes inspiration from several things. The colours blue and yellow are a reference to all countries on the European Continent. Orange translates in hanky code to “anything “. To us this means that there is no shame in anything, no matter what your preferences are. We celebrate who we are and want the world to accept. The paw, of course highlights our bond to pup play. To pups, handlers, friends, and allies.
And we haven’t forgotten! The pocket and the handkerchief remind us of a time when it wasn’t possible to have sexual freedom as a queer person in public. Sadly there still is discrimination in this world going on, and the work is not done yet!
What should we expect to see from the newly elected pup and handler?
For the new Puppy Europe, we are hoping to see engagement with national title holders and organisations across Europe. As well as using tools like social media to peak with and connect with the wider European community. Building on the legacy of the previous Mr Puppy Europe title holders and being a focus for pups to engage with and ask questions.
A big focus will be on championing pup play and helping to re-build pup events and safe spaces. While also using their platforms to encourage all pups, whatever their background to come and meet, and mosh with others pups and handlers.
As for the first Handler Europe, whomever they are they have a big job in finding the best ways to encourage handlers old and new to attend pup events and socials, and to meet and interact with pups.
Education, on the role of a handler within our community is going to be really important so to lay the foundations for pup groups and future Handler Europe title holders to build a presence within the community.
Of course, they will both have each other to help and support in their initiatives and goals, as well as the backing of the team if they need us.