November 2022 Creature Feature - Willow!
The pet play lifestyle is full of so many voices that make it unique and vibrant. To showcase this, every month we will be shining the spotlight on a particular human animal or Handler in our community. Let's hear what makes every pet player special! This month, we're featuring another one of our most cherished, long-time volunteers. She's often seen doing runs for our supplies, and helping keep our parties clean and well-stocked. Plus, she's simply the cutest and sweetest little corgi around! Introducing...
Please introduce yourself, your pronouns, and how you identify in pet play.
Hi! I'm Willow, I'm bisexual, polyamarous, transgender, and my pronouns are she/her. In pet play I'm a small corgi, always curious and apt to play with other pups or when encouraged, but more often than not I'm just a lap dog. Very head-empty at all times. Sometimes I'm also a service dog for my partner, Kat, fetching things or doing little tasks for them when they don't want to or can't move around. I don't have a pup name - Willow/puppy/bitch etc. will all get my attention, as will anything else because I'm so easily distracted.
How did you first get into pet play and discover your headspace?
I'd played with collars and leashes in scenes before which led to an interest in pet play, which led me to finding SoCal Creatures. This really opened my eyes to what pets could be and how pet play can be done. Animal role play is fun in concept, but seeing that raw connection in person is magical. I was so inspired and captivated by the varied dynamics and expressions all coming together in this loving, judgment free environment. It's incredibly relieving to let go into a playful space, letting body and mind free to feel comfortable and have fun with zero judgment. Playing more with handler dynamics showed me how much I love letting go of control and responsibility to people who I know and trust will take care of me. Letting go of worry can be extremely difficult for me, but being a pet for someone is an amazingly effective way to quickly clear my mind. And frankly, my handler will often be able to know what's best for me better than I do, which not only warms my little puppy heart but it's also just so helpful and cathartic for someone who struggles with executive function.
What are your favorite treats/rewards?
Usually I'm happy with scritches behind my ears or a very nice "good girl"! Head pats and butt pats are nice rewards for a job well done. I love getting time to be a lap dog and lay on/with someone. I don't often eat actual treats in play, but I tend to like sweeter things like fruit snacks or anything chocolate. On the less sweet side, I love getting stepped on and generally roughed around and abused. Whether that's punishment or reward just depends on the context between me and the person topping me.
What helps you get into your pet headspace?
One of the first things for me to get into headspace is vocalizing - making tiny whines and whimpers and groans. It helps a lot to tap into and merge my physical and emotional states. Other helpful triggers include getting pets, having my collar put on, being told to "come" or just kneeling next to my handler, and simply being around other pets. Depending on my physical comfort that day, a hood can be helpful, too. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, it can be helpful to lay down and curl up and "wake up" in petspace. If I'm encouraged to do a lot of breathing and stretching, I can get into space exactly at the pace that I want.
How, if at all, do your intersections of identity influence your pet play?
Pet play provided a great blank slate for my innermost self. A dog doesn't need a gender to act like a dog. And I get to build my petspace the way that feels best for me. It allowed me to really truly find what I wanted to be, totally free from outside expectations and boundaries.
Pet play allowed me to open up to what felt right for me, and most often in ways that mirrored my own identity and expression. Shy, sweet, curious, nervous, but eager. Truths about myself that I'd hidden for masks that never suited me. No wonder I'd always been the one losing (and not totally minding it) when roughhousing growing up. Pet play helps me reconnect with parts of myself that have been sorely missed.
Apart from gender, I feel that my neurodivergence plays heavily into my pet play. I have ADHD and am self-diagnosed autistic, and growing up a lot of my experience was being told I was smart but not applying myself, that I was too lazy, or quiet, or made weird noises, or whatever else I was supposed to change about myself. Pet play gave me the freedom to totally unmask in a way I hadn't for a very long time. I can just listen to myself and be.
Additionally, there's a lot of catharsis for me personally in being a dumb dog. My intelligence has been put on a pedestal for so long and it's all the more frustrating when my energy or the way my brain works makes me fall short of those lofty expectations. When I get told I'm just a stupid little dog with no thoughts, it encourages me to keep my mind clear and reminds me that I'm loved for exactly who I am. There are some things that I just can't do or need help with that other people have no trouble doing and it's not easy accepting that, but pet play has made it easier for me.
What are some goals you have as a pet for the coming months/year?
As a pet, and also a person, the biggest thing I'm focusing on right now is just making space for loving myself. Pet play has led me to caring for and loving myself deeply for what feels like the first time, and I absolutely will follow that lead. At the moment, that's clearing space for a dog bed so I have a set comfy spot on the ground. It's not always easy to play around in smaller spaces, but little curled up puppy naps are what I need most days.
I want to do my best to connect with this awesome community! Being a socially anxious, somewhat nonverbal dog can make socializing pretty tough, but I'm excited to grow the connections I've made and forge new ones.
I also want to start working on finding a mentor to learn more about being a Pro Submissive/ Pro Switch. It’s something that I think would be really fulfilling and healthier work for me. It would also be lovely to find a more ongoing handler/top for myself, but that's not something I want to force myself towards too much.
What do you love most about pet play?
That it's what you make of it! There are all sorts of creatures and they all have the freedom to play their way. From well-established dynamics to pick-up play, very short or
very long scenes, soft or heavy, sexual or nonsexual, gear or not, it doesn't matter. It's such a malleable kink, and it can intersect fantastically with so many others. I love this mix of options I have to engage in with different play partners, and I love seeing the community making space for that variety of play.
To keep up with Willow, follow her on Instagram @willowxsimone!