A ‘human pup’ who says he has never felt like a man eats his meals out of a dog bowl, wears a dog mask and often barks at, licks and bites friends.
Kaz James, 37, claims he’s felt like a dog since childhood and says he always felt ‘weird’ and unable to relate to others before finally allowing his pup persona to shine through in his late teens.
The store manager, from Salford, Greater Manchetster, has had help from an online ‘pup play’ community and open-minded friends to transition from part-time pooch to confident canine.
The self-professed ‘full-time orange, brown and camo K9’ unleashes his doggy personality by barking at friends, carrying items with his teeth and snacking on Bonios.
Outside of work he can be found in customised rubber outfits, masks, dog leads, harnesses and even a bespoke £2,000 fur suit.
“I didn’t ever feel like a human, I always felt like a dog that was really out of place,” he said.
“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 saying hello to them by 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.
“Through him, I knew other pups and learned a whole new language of this other world that I didn’t know about with a whole bunch of other people who were like me.
“It was a liberating moment knowing there were other people like me, having felt properly weird for the longest time.”
Kaz says he always felt like there was something not right with other people when he was around them.
“It was really nice to meet other people, chat to them and feel on the same wavelength,” he continued.
It was only when the internet was installed at home when he was 17 that Kaz discovered other like-minded pup pals online.
Single Kaz said: “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.
“It wasn’t until the internet arrived in our house that I started chatting to people online – mostly through groups and message boards.
“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 would hold a pillow over the 56k modem so you couldn’t hear the modem noise.
“I was worried that If I ever spoke to anyone about it, they would be like ‘you’re a nut job’.
“It’s an experience that a lot of pups I know have had – feeling really weird and strange about how they are and then finding other people and feeling a lot better about it.”
When he moved into a house-share with friends at the age of 18, Kaz unleashed his playful pup side at home.
Kaz, who is 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.”
The 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 said: “My whole lifestyle is about being a pup.
“For me it’s an everything, I go about and live my day-to-day life relatively normally, that includes things like putting collars on at 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 and though he appreciates the positive comments he dresses that way to express his inner animal.
Kaz said: “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 continued: “I feel a sense of peace being a human pup.
“Little things make me feel happy like eating my dinner out of a bowl using a knife and fork.
“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.
“I get ones that are a cereal and sugar glucose mix, a really basic dog biscuit, which taste like a vanilla-flavoured digestive biscuit.”
Hanging in his wardrobe alongside his two bespoke £400 rubber suits and dog leads Kaz also owns a £2,000 custom-made fur suit shipped over from Canada.
Kaz said: “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.
“Having an entire fur or rubber suit of your character is a really great experience.
“It gives me the chance to be the best version of myself when I go out.”
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.
Kaz said: “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.
“We thought it was big before but after the documentary came out it just became insanely big and became a whole new other monster,” he said.
“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.”