Five years ago, Pup Flash was a shy first-timer at a meeting of SEA-PAH (that’s Seattle Pups and Handlers). Now, he’s running the show.
Pup Flash had just moved to Seattle around 2018 when his handler brought him to a mosh at the Cuff. “That was my first time being a puppy,” Flash recalls. Cavorting on the patio with a gaggle of pups in various configurations of masks and gear, he watched as folks casually crouched on all fours, barking and rolling onto their backs, nuzzling and wagging butts at each other. Overall: A good vibe.
There was just something about the energy, Flash says. “I pretty much fell in love, and realized this is the place for me.” But he couldn’t have anticipated that within a few years, he’d help save the organization from nearly dissolving during the pandemic, or that he’d wind up running it.
Like many pups, Flash felt a certain shyness about bounding completely into the Seattle pup scene. He was new to the city, didn't know many people, and felt like he didn't know what he was doing.
But then came the pandemic and, with it, a brush with near-disaster for SEA-PAH. Without in-person events, donations tapered and the organization’s budget started to dwindle. In that particularly volatile time, many people in leadership positions stepped away for a variety of reasons. For a time, it looked like SEA-PAH was about to dissolve.
A handful of folks stepped in to keep the party going, Flash recalls, “and then they entreated the community, 'We need money and we need help.'”
Reading that in the monthly newsletter was the tail-shove that Flash needed.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this thing that I love might be going away,’" he says. "I wanted SEA-PAH to be around so other puppies who are moving here from the middle of nowhere can have that experience for the first time.”
He submitted an application to serve on the board, was welcomed onboard, and got to work. He spent 2021 getting up to speed, then in 2022 ran for the position of Director at Large, and won.
At first, Flash didn’t have much in the way of a plan for keeping the organization afloat. “I just wanted to help where I could,” he said. But soon opportunities presented themselves: With the help of the board, he made sure to continue an event series called the League of Extraordinary Educated Puppies, in which community members volunteer to host educational workshops on topics like chainmail weaving, leather history, and role play. They also managed to keep the regular pup moshes going at the Cuff, as well as fundraisers and kink-tasting events. And in August SEA-PAH will hold their first Camp K9 at Elkamp, a campground in Mineral, WA.
He’s found leadership to be “a very different vibe, instead of being the carefree puppy I once was.” Every meetup requires that he keep an eye out for newcomers who need to be welcomed in, just as he was a few years ago.
In addition, many of Flash’s colleagues on the SEA-PAH board are similarly new to leadership positions in the community, and he's noticed that many of the rank-and-file memberships are fresh faces as well: “People who haven’t done pup play before and a wider variety of not just pups, but pets," he says. "And a big uptick in the ABDL presence."
The proliferation of kitties, scalies, and crinklebutts may be a trend, or it might just be a reflection of people becoming more comfortable enjoying their kinks in the company of others, Flash says. “There’s also that kink is a very fluid thing, just like people’s sexualities,” he says.
As a result, they’re considering changing the name of the group from “Pups and Handlers” to “Pets and Handlers.”
That broadening of the organization’s horizons may be one of Flash’s lingering impacts on the local scene. He’s planning to stick around in a leadership role for another year or two, and then hand it off to whoever comes next. He’s looking forward to enjoying the scene as a participant, rather than a director. But even after stepping back, he says, he’s not planning to disappear anytime soon.
“At this point,” he says, “I think I’ll always have a paw in SEA-PAH.”