Playing on all fours and chasing balls might seem like an unusual game for adults, but a transgender man who calls himself a dog says doing so has brought him closer to his beloved husband.
30-year-old Tony McGinn also called ‘Tony Bark’ says he refers to himself as a ‘human pup’ and he has been into animal role-play since he was a child.
Tony, who was born female, is supported by his ‘handler’ and husband Andrew who plays with him and accompanies him to contests.
“To me a dog is everything pure in the world. Dogs experience the world through a lens of pure joy that I don’t think other animals have.
A lot of little kids like to play like they’re a dog and most of them grow out of it. I just never grew out of that.
And now in my adult life, in my relationships, it’s a way for me to feel vulnerable and exposed and close to my partner. It’s a very intimate thing.
Imagine if the easiest way to delight your partner is you just throw a ball across the room. Relationships wouldn’t fail anymore if that’s all you had to do.”
His husband, Andrew, said:
“I hang out and I provide him with lots of attention and tell him he is a good boy. That’s basically 90 percent of it.
I think everyone should feel comfortable exploring the limits of their creativity and imagination and most of us have grown up in a culture that strongly discourages you from taking it too far.
I appreciate that I am married to someone who encourages me to explore my imagination and my interests wherever they lead and I try to do the same.
The two have known each other since 2009. They have three dogs of their own, which they call ‘bio dogs’.
Tony confidently states that he identifies himself as a dog and explained:
“Pet play is anytime that a person takes on the role of an animal,’ he explained. ‘They emulate that animal either through their behaviour or their actions.
I do consider myself as a pup at all times every day, but I don’t engage in pet play every day.
We engage in pet play actively a few times a month, and it’s often in a social setting such as a club or an event.
Some people wear costumes, some people try to get into the head space of the animal and think as an animal would.”
The couple joins events such as dog shows, biannual fox and herding events but Tony says he rarely has to deal with judgment or criticisms from others.
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