Imagine seeing your best mate in the street but instead of the regular jeans and t-shirt combo, they’re rocking a full dog mask and fur suit. Then, rather than walking across the road to see when you’re next out for a pint, they bound over licking and biting you.
That’s the reality for Kaz James’ pals because he’s a ‘human pup’
Yes, that’s right, he eats his meals from a bowl, wears a dog mask and regularly greets friends by barking.
The 37-year-old claims to have felt like a dog since childhood and was unable to relate to others before allowing his pup persona to shine through in his late teens.
Now store manager Kaz has made the transition from shy part-time pooch to confident canine with the help of a thriving online pup play community and open-minded pals.
Outside of work he can be found flaunting his furry side in customised rubber outfits, masks, dog leads, harnesses and even a bespoke £2,000 ($2,600) fur suit.
Kaz, from Salford, Greater Manchester, said: “I didn’t ever feel like a human, I always felt like a dog that was really out of place. I never really had a name for it, being a pup wasn’t a thing I knew about. When I met other people like me I felt I could be myself.
“I was known by my friends for grabbing hold of the collar of their shirt in my teeth and biting or licking them, very canine-type behaviours. It was always how I was. The first time I heard the term of being a pup was through a pup I met online, he was the first person I met who was like me.
“It was a liberating moment knowing there were other people like me, having felt properly weird for the longest time. It quite often felt like when I was around other people there was something that was not right with them.”
Single Kaz continued: “I realised that my behaviours were quite dog-like in childhood, probably from the age of six. No-one ever talked about it, it was never mentioned. My parents took early retirement and we moved to a farm in Norfolk.
“I was incredibly nervous when I first started talking to people online. I was living with my parents and I would sneak downstairs at three in the morning to get on the internet to look for this stuff.
“I was worried that If I ever spoke to anyone about it, they would be like ‘you’re a nut job’.”
When he moved into a house-share with friends at the age of 18, Kaz unleashed his playful pup side at home. The co-founder of Kennel Klub, said: “During that time, as I was finding out I was a pup, I met my first owner and he ended up living in that house with us.
“It was quite a steep learning curve for my friends who had gone to school with me and seen me be relatively normal and then learn all these interesting things about me.”
Kaz, author of ‘How to train a human pup’, moved up to Greater Manchester in 2005 and embodies the mantra ‘be dog’ in all aspects of his life. He added: “My whole lifestyle is about being a pup.
“I go about and live my day-to-day life relatively normally, that includes things like putting collars on and barking at people I know in the street. If I see pups out in the Village I will bark at them, I get funny reactions from passersby all the time.”
Himself an owner of two human pups, Kaz said he gets great reactions when out and about in his pup gear as he explained: “It’s very much a form of self expression, what I choose to wear depends on what I’m doing.
“If I’m going to work I’m picking things that are fairly mild like a t-shirt that says ‘pup’ on the front. It’s an extension of myself and dressing how I feel.
“It makes me feel really great when people walk up to me and say I look really good, and it’s great that people get a kick out of it, but it’s not specifically done for other people.”
After a long day’s work or going out socialising Kaz loves nothing more than relaxing at home and eating meals out of his dog bowl.
He said: “I don’t eat at people’s tables when I go to friends’ houses. I can be a normal person in a restaurant, I’m trained and can deal with humans, but I don’t like it, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
“I don’t eat dog food, I eat regular food like a normal person but I do eat Bonios they’re quite nice. There are loads of dog treats you can get that are human friendly which are actually quite good for you.”
Hanging in his wardrobe alongside his two bespoke £400 ($526) rubber suits and dog leads Kaz also owns a £2,000 ($2,630) custom-made fur suit shipped over from Canada.
But these items do have them downfalls as Kaz pointed out: “It does get hot in there, it’s pretty much like walking around wearing a carpet. It’s great for winter, if you’re going to wear it in summer – invest in air conditioning. Those who make the custom rubber suits and fur suits are artists – you’re paying for a piece of custom artwork.”
Kaz said although people from outside the community can mistake human pup purely as a fetish, the movement focuses largely on reconnecting with childhood fun and even romance. He explained: “For me being a human pup is an all-encompassing thing.
“A lot of pups gets into the play side of it very easily, but for me it’s my whole life. Some parts of pup play can be really romantic, for example being collared is very romantic, it’s easy to fall madly in love with someone who does all these fun things with you.”
Kaz said the human pup scene exploded following the Channel 4 documentary Secret Life of the Human Pups. He said: “We thought it was big before but after the documentary came out it just became insanely big and became a whole new other monster.
“The best advice I could give to anyone interested in becoming a human pup just give it a try. Hanging out online is fine but the best and most fun way you can do that is meet other people who are into it and chat to them about their experiences at Kennel Klub.
“We do get people who just show up because they’re interested in it, have a few drinks with everyone and chat about stuff. By the end of the night they’ll be on the floor with tennis balls in their mouths.”