Chiaroscuro gets the mask out of his bag and puts it in my hands. It's a puppy mask made of rubber, very dark grey and quite thick, smelling strongly of latex. Unlike other masks I played with, and generally I do love playing with masks, this one has a realistic face - it's a doggy face, a kind of Labrador cross with a bulldog face. It's well made and and the mould has been shaped so that the protruding mouth and nose offers a very dog like expression. He inclines his head down a little so his face is in the mask, I put a hand on his neck and zip the mask closed. He kneels. Paws go on and are buckled in place, then finally a collar to complete the picture.
The transformation is quite startling, his physicality alters immediately, becoming looser around the shoulders and arms. His strength held in the back and thighs with a centre of gravity that is now much lower and powered from the hips. He launches himself forward with great speed and exuberance after objects thrown into the crowd. He is delightful. There's a mix of giggles and some cries of annoyance and I find myself heading after the puppy to detach him from people's legs. This is a different type of dog to the others, I'm learning that all puppies are very unique. The negotiation document was useful, but nothing compares to actually seeing it in practice. This one is playful, energetic and easily distracted. An actual puppy as opposed to a grown dog. And he's off again...
The mask is causing me some problems, however. I'm used to masks that erode the face completely - either a smooth veneer of latex or some other abstract, obviously fake pattern without expression. Onto those blank slates one can paint whatever attitude you like, or, as I quite like to do, just let them be neutral, absent, inhuman and servile machines or dolls. With the knowledge that a real face sits beneath, in pleasure or in pain or both at once. But it can't be seen. Only heard. Here, there is a fake face, one that is very expressive - a realistic and bouncy, pleasing dog face. It looks happy, although also just a little dim. It's real enough to make me react to it, to view the dog face as the actual face, although of course I know it isn't, and makes it very strange to watch. A few people in the room find it decidedly eerie, perhaps in a similar way to how some people can react to the doll suit. It has a certain unheimlich quality to it - that sense of the familiar being made strange or inaccessible. Like toys that speak or everyday items suddenly doing something they should not.
I'm doing a double take throughout. Parallel processing the dog-with-a-face and the boy-in-the-dog and trying to look after both. It's quite a challenge and I find myself at times a little confused as to what to do because it's an explicitly non-sexual scenario which is very interesting and not a type of play I often engage in, although find myself doing more and more as I explore specific kinks and activities. I absolutely don't want to fuck the dog, and even less be fucked by the dog, because that would be bestiality - and that would be "wrong". This is a puppy. You just don't do that to puppies. Something that needs looking after, caring for, playing with, owning and training. But an asexual thing. Similarly, the feelings I get from the dog do not make me feel sexual - I feel wanted, important and powerful but I don't feel desired in that way - and neither do I want to be.
Perhaps the face has something to do with that - making it much more animal than boy-pretending-to-be-an-animal. Or forced to behave like one, which would be a sexual experience. I'm learning as I go (aren't we all?) but each new partner shows me just how context influenced, specific and individual - and frankly, damn changeable and plain whimsical - my tastes can be. Over the past few months I've learnt how D/s can be a non-sexual thing and still be exciting. Perhaps this is the one of the key differences between my dominant and submissive desires - I certainly prioritise and need a lot of sexual attention from my partner as a submissive, but as a dominant, less so. Perhaps because the control, manage and withholding of the sexual needs of others requires an attitude of being the stronger party - the one who doesn't "need", because they can simply take as and when. Which means I can luxuriate in knowing it's always there as opposed to hoping for the crumbs as and when they fall. Or dog biscuits.