Puppy Pride founder on role-play, kink and GB News: ‘There is a sexual and social side to most things’

The founder of Puppy Pride has spoke to PinkNews to dispel some misconceptions about puppy-play.

The founder of Puppy Pride is keen to dispel some of the misconceptions about puppy play. 

And Kye Etherton brims with the same infectious energy we have come to associate with our four-legged friends.

But when it comes to the world of role-play, his is that of a “handler” rather than a pup, meaning he’s the one with the leash in his hand. He is known by his 12,000-plus group members as the “chief pup wrangler”. 

He gives his pups treats such as chocolate buttons, or grapes (for those who are vegan), he jokes.

Speaking to PinkNews about the group, which he founded 10 years ago, Etherton describes it as a “free-to-use social network for people who are into animal role-play”, and a “form of escapism”. 

Kye Etherton
Founder of Puppy Pride, Kye Etherton, with a pup. (Foxypaws)

Puppy Pride, he says, puts no obligation on members to purchase gear, with only a small number choosing to be in their roles 24/7, while others only present as such for special events. 

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The role-play isn’t just limited to pups, people also dress up as cats and ponies, which Etherton describes as being “slightly more graceful”. 

He says: “It’s whatever you best relate with yourself. Anyone’s welcome to turn up, as long as it’s something they’re in to.” 

‘You’re not going to be judged for who you are’ 

He insists there is no sexual side to Puppy Pride, although some people do enjoy having sex as a pup, with many events permitting this in the UK. 

“That’s not what pup play is about. Most events are held in pubs, bars and clubs and are a way of socialising and getting to know other people and hopefully not having to stress so much about every-day life,” Etherton says.

The most fun part of the kink for him is the socialising and meeting like-minded people. 

The group offers a space where “you’re not going to be judged for who you are”, which is “becoming increasingly rare”, he says. 

Puppy Pride allows members who also enjoy roleplaying as other animals to join.
Puppy Pride allows members to roleplay as other animals. (Elio Zhang)

Responding to claims that animal role-play is inherently sexual, he stresses: “It’s no more correct to say it has a sexual side than compared to anything else. It happens, but not at the events we run.

“There is a sexual and social side to most things.”

Rules apply to Puppy Prides events including “always [having to ask before] touching somebody”. 

Puppy role-play isn’t an explicitly queer pastime, as some people may assume, with most members identifying as trans or gender-non-confirming.   

“We’ve got everybody there from all walks of life, different ages and all different genders, not just male or female, its everything in-between,” Etherton points out. 

Other rumours he’s keen to banish relate to anti-LGBTQ+ chatter around “kink at Pride”, which all too often pedals a narrative about pups being too sexual for public events that children might attend.

“It’s in public. Why would there be a sexual side in public? That’s just stupid,” he says.

“We’re all fully clothed and who doesn’t like to pretend to have a dog? People we meet always love the pups and even the parents love it. We’ve never had a parent say: ‘Get away from my child’.” 

The founder of Puppy Pride has said the group march at Pride completely clothed and have never received complaints.
The founder of Puppy Pride said no one has ever complained about the group march at Pride. (Elio Zhang)

Usually, Etherton says, the reaction to pups being in public is “very positive”, with tourists wanting to take photos with the group in their costumes.

His comments come after animal role-play was attacked by GB News pundit Adam Brooks, who called for a group of people who enjoy puppy play to be “put down”. His comment followed a video of hundreds of human pups at a meet-up in Berlin being aired on the right-wing channel.

“I don’t understand it. It was a bunch of people outside a train station having fun and being themselves,” Etherton said, after seeing the GB News clip.

“They weren’t hurting anybody and didn’t cause any problems. It’s none of his business and he should keep his opinions to himself.

“If Adam is having these sorts of issues with people being pups, maybe he needs to get a life, because he’s obviously stressed.”

The GB News pundit has since claimed he isn’t homophobic and will sue anyone who alleges his comment was hateful. 

PinkNews asked Adam Brooks to comment further on his claims, but he did not respond.

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