Human pups like to live in packs, play with squeaky toys, eat from bowls and nuzzle their handlers. Ahead of a new documentary, Spot, Bootbrush and Kaz open up about their community
Its easy to laugh at a grown man in a rubber dog suit chewing on a squeaky toy. Maybe too easy, in fact, because to laugh is to dismiss it, denigrate it ignore the fact that many of us have found comfort and joy in pretending to be animals at some point in our lives.
Secret Life of the Human Pups is a sympathetic look at the world of pup play, a movement that grew out of the BDSM community and has exploded in the last 15 years as the internet made it easier to reach out to likeminded people. While the pup community is a broad church, human pups tend to be male, gay, have an interest in dressing in leather, wear dog-like hoods, enjoy tactile interactions like stomach rubbing or ear tickling, play with toys, eat out of bowls and are often in a relationship with their human handlers.
In the documentary, we see Tom, AKA Spot, take part in the Mr Puppy Europe competition in Antwerp, a mix of beauty pageant, talent show and Crufts; David, AKA Bootbrush, talk to camera in a leather dog mask; two pups walk through London pretending to wee on lampposts to raise awareness of their identity; and lots of men jumping up for treats, barking and wagging their mechanical tails.
When I speak to Tom, he is keen to point out that puppy play is about more than just outfits and surface-level power games: its about being given licence to behave in a way that feels natural, even primal. Youre not worrying about money, or food, or work, says Tom, who works as an engineer in a theatre. Its just the chance to enjoy each others company on a very simple level.
Aries:youre always in their mind, thoughts of you whirling around within love hearts and chest-bursting emotion. theres static when you touch; your wandering hands slowly melting their heart. youll never quite understand them, but if they love you, you feel it in your bones, and in the deepest depths of your soul.
Taurus:youre opening up to them, making them feel needed. theyre restless when theyre with you, only ever wanting to be as close to you as possible. they want to feel and see all of you, nothing is better than loving completely. quickly youll know all of each other, a bittersweet romance.
Gemini:are you worried theyll leave? just watch them. notice them glancing at you constantly, making sure youre still there. theyre just as worried as you are. the more they learn about you the harder they fall, never wanting to leave your side. clouds of green often dust their vision, which youll never see, but another look into your eyes makes them feel invincible. the ruler of mercury is surprisingly bad at expressing love, but theyll do all they can to make you understand.
Cancer:you try to unlearn it, you try to avoid your obsession over them. their soft skin, the way they touch you. they have a power over you, a sickly sweet power. and you know they wont take advantage of that, theyll make sure youre warm and safe, that youre never without love. theyll wrap you up in clouds and give you the most perfect mugs of tea. theyll know all of you, and youll be happier than youve ever been.
Leo:your typical friends to lovers relationship, you grow close quickly and spend the last weeks of your friendship thinking of how their lips will feel on yours, and they spend them wondering how you taste. your wonderfully awkward first kisses and slowly but surely learning how each other thinks and works are so, so sweet. they support you, and love every inch of you. theyre more dedicated than anyone youve ever met, and god are you proud of them.
Virgo:a sweetly frustrating person to be with. despite differences, you know you always just want to hold them. silly arguments scatter your visits, always starting and ending with quick kisses and lots of compliments. someone who can retain their mysterious qualities regardless of how well you know them. a romance full of never-forgotten anniversaries and birthdays, a romance of knowing the other wholly and completely.
Libra:a person you fit with like a puzzle piece, every trait complimenting each other, and your bodies lay together perfectly. a love-song kind of love, full of soft melodies and perfect notes. loving them could be short and sweet, or could last for years and years. dont mess with them because they wont hesitate to drop you, but as long as you treat them right, you will have a fairytale romance. youll immediately work with each other, people thinking youve been together for years even if its only been a month.
Scorpio:the kind of love that makes you sit back and think this is what ive been waiting for. a patient and kind love, full of soft touches and intuitively knowing. some things become forgotten, but thats okay. you can find a true home in this love, stuck thinking about them, stuck feeling warm whenever theyre around. jealousy might ensue, which can easily blow up in your face. either a lot of problems or none at all. being in love with a scorpio can be an absolutely wonderful experience, and probably one that you dont want to end.
Sagittarius:a love full of memories and adventures. someone you might feel like is a friend rather than a lover, but you dont particularly mind. a relationship full of late night travels, either just to a nearby field to see the stars or a road trip that takes hours just to get ice cream. youll have plenty to talk about when youre in love with a sagittarius, and you might not always be on their mind but everything reminds them of you. it can be hard to love a sagittarius fully, they dont like to show all of themselves quickly by any means, but if you show that youre okay with putting in effort, theyll keep you by their side.
Capricorn:can you even tell when a capricorn is in love? they can obsess, but some close themselves off. it can be a terrifying feeling for this sign, but their clumsiness and messy words when near you is a great signal that they have feelings for you. they act like they dont, but all of their thoughts revolve around you. youll probably have to confess to your feelings first, but once you do, everything will fall into place. its rare that a capricorn gives up on a relationship.
Aquarius:sometimes you can question whether or not an aquarius actually has the ability to fall in love, but they definitely do. most of the time they dont even realize theyre in love until they have to snap their teeth shut to keep the words from spilling out, often causing them to go into some kind of crisis. youll probably know before they do. theyll be ready to commit, ready to spend all of their time with you. once an aquarius is ready to dedicate everything to you and willing to put effort into the relationship and willing to know all of you, theyre in deep and might never get back out.
Pisces:almost a childish love, easily full of awkwardness and not quite knowing what youre doing. your minds, hearts, and souls intertwine so easily but physicalities can cause problems. your words mean the world to them, and while quality time is valuable, telling them how much you mean to them and how much you love them will get you further than anything else. they thrive on reassurance and random acts of kindness. loving a pisces is never boring, mostly comfortable, and can be a relationship with your best friend.
One horse who’s been through the roughest of times is grazing in a happier place thanks to Jon Stewart.
The comedian and his wife, Tracey, adopted the 20-year-old mare and she’ll be taken to the couple’s animal sanctuary in New Jersey on Wednesday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Certainly, I don’t think we could have planned this or imagined this,” Kelly Smith of the Omega Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, the group who has been caring for Lily, told the outlet of the adoption. “I’m one of the people who believes in divine intervention.”
The couple have also adopted another horse named Anita, who was the victim of neglect. According to a statement from the Humane Society of the United States, Lily was found abandoned in a stall. In addition to the marks paintball marks found on her body, the mare was also emaciated and blind in her right eye.
HSUS, said in the statement. “There is no excuse for wounding defenseless animal like this horse in Lancaster.”
The horse was brought to Penn Vet New Bolton for medical care. She had her right eye removed while unhealthy tissue was removed from her left eye.
Since then, the mare, who’s put on a few hundred pounds, has bounced back.
“You wouldn’t recognize her, she’s a different horse,” Smith told Lancaster Online.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Smith met Tracey at Penn Vet New Bolton over a month ago. Though Tracey had offered to take the mare in then, it wasn’t long before the Stewarts decided to adopt Anita as well.
It seems like now, Lily, will have a whole lot to look forward to.
“She’ll be well cared for, and she’ll never want for anything again,” Smith said, according to Lancaster Online.
While it isn’t clear exactly how Lily ended up with the numerous paintball marks, Philip Price Jr., 65, has since been convicted of animal cruelty, along with other charges, Fox 43 reported.
A village taxi service whose initials form an expletive has been ordered to remove the signs from its car.
The Port Isaac Shuttle Service has been told by Cornwall Council that the lettering “offends good taste”.
Louise Houston, who runs the service in the village made famous as a location for TV’s Doc Martin, said she may appeal.
“I thought we could have a bit of fun with the name but the council doesn’t agree,” she said.
The taxi service has been using the name for the last three years, but Ms Houston said she would now have to change it to Port Isaac Shuttle.
A council spokesman said the authority had not asked the service to change its name – only the signs which emphasise the company’s bold initials.
He said: “Following a complaint, our licensing team has asked the company to remove the advertising on the side of the vehicle that emphasises an offensive acronym.”
But Ms Houston said: “I don’t think it’s offensive. We used to call it the shuttle bus but the council objected about calling it a bus.
“When we called it the shuttle service they’ve objected again.
“It’s part of Port Isaac humour. There’s another shop called May Contain Nuts, but they haven’t objected to that.”
A petition has been started in the village to save the name and several people have supported the service on social media.
Sue Hendriks wrote on Facebook: “Idiots. We are behind you. I think it is brilliant. Don’t give up.”
Greece has agreed a deal to unlock a further 10.3bn euros ($11.5bn; 7.8bn) in loans from its international creditors, after talks in Brussels.
Eurozone finance ministers also agreed to potentially offer Greece debt relief – a concession that was necessary to keep IMF on board.
The 19 ministers said the deal had been made possible by Greece’s economic reforms and called it a breakthrough.
Greece needed this tranche of cash to meet debt repayments due in July.
Offering debt relief to Greece had been a key demand from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has been at odds with the Eurogroup (the 19 eurozone finance ministers) for months over the issue.
Germany in particular has been opposed to the idea of reducing debt – a so-called “haircut”.
“We achieved a major breakthrough on Greece which enables us to enter a new phase in the Greek financial assistance programme,” Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters early on Wednesday.
He said a package of debt measures would be “phased in progressively”.
This review was the first under Greece’s third eurozone bailout, secured in August last year, after which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a snap election.
The move came two days after the Greek parliament approved another round of spending cuts and tax increases demanded by its international creditors.
The bill also created a state privatisation fund requested by eurozone finance ministers.
Opponents of the measures demonstrated outside parliament on Sunday.
The Greek government, led by the leftist Syriza coalition, agreed to a third bailout worth 86bn (67bn; $96bn) last year.
The Washington-based IMF will still have to give final approval at board level to the fund’s continued participation in the Greek bailout.
The organisation says Greek public debt is unsustainable at current levels of about 180% of Greece’s gross domestic product.
Spokesman Poul M Thomsen said: “We welcome that it is recognised that Greece needs debt relief to make that debt sustainable and it can’t do it on its own.”
Sikhs have had to deal with racism and discrimination ever since members of the faith arrived in America more than 125 years ago. But prejudice against this religious group has taken an ugly turn in recent years, as Sikhs are swept into the rising tide of Islamophobia.
Some of this hate stems from ignorance. Statistics show that many in the country know little or nothing about Sikh Americans.
Maneetpaul Singh, a 22-year-old Sikh filmmaker from Connecticut, is hoping to help change that. He recently took to the streets of New York City with YouTuber Jagraj Singh to see just how much people knew about Sikhism and to help them learn more about its origins, principles, and people.
Some of the people Jagraj spoke to in New York’s Times Square had never heard of the religion before. Maneetpaul told The Huffington Post that it is these folks that he’s hoping to reach.
“This film is truly intended for those who have never heard of a Sikh before,” Maneetpaul told The Huffington Post. “It is to show people we are an independent religion, separate from Islam or Hinduism. However, at the same time, the goal is not to shift blame to Muslims or any other religious group. The film aims to showcase that it is simply not right to judge someone based on their appearance.”
In the video, Jagraj takes a few people aside and leads them through a crash course on the religion.
The resulting short documentary, “They Called Me Osama,” covers everything from Sikhism’s founding in Punjab, India in 1469 to its core belief in the equality of all people, to what it’s like to be Sikh in America today.
Although Maneetpaul said he was fortunate enough to go through school without having any major problems with bullying or racism, he still feels he can’t leave the house “without receiving some sort of ‘look’, double-take, or flat out inappropriate comment.”
“I feel that having a Sikh identity comes with a certain degree of responsibility,” Maneetpaul wrote. “It is our job to make that first impression, and put ourselves out there. The only way misperceptions towards Sikhs will change, is if we engage with our communities and show the world what our real beliefs are.”
Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world. It is a monotheistic faith. Unshorn hair is one of the five elements of the Sikh faith. It is an outward sign of their faith and a way for Sikhs to allow their body to grow in the way that nature intended it. Some Sikhs wrap their hair in a turban, or dastaar, which is a reminder of the equality and royalty of all people.
Maneetpaul interviewed several Sikh Americans who have been victims of discrimination in the past. Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a New York physician and academic, recounted how he was physically assaulted by a group of people who shouted Islamophobic statements at him. Japjee Singh, a student from Georgia, spoke about how he was bullied throughout his school years. Balpreet Kaur, a Sikh woman who has chosen not to trim her facial hair in accordance with her religion’s beliefs, spoke about how a Redditor posted a photo of her online, mocking her for her appearance — and about how the cyberbully eventually apologized for his post.
In the documentary, Kaur said that she hopes the incident helped teach people that it’s okay to step out of your comfort zone to get to know people who are different.
“The whole incident hopefully taught not only me but others how to embrace diversity and offers a glimpse of the sheer amount of diversity we have in our world,” Kaur said.
Watch Maneetpaul Singh’s documentary above.