Tomorrow evening large numbers of U.K. viewers are expected to tune into what is being hyped as a startling documentary on Channel 4 called Secret Life of Human Pups. The documentary is about a fascinating subculture of men who have a secret predilection for dressing up as dogs in their spare time, including the donning of special plastic dog outfits, sleeping in cages, eating dog biscuits—they especially adore going out for walks on a leash, or on a “lead” as the British term it.
This morning, on a talk show called This Morning on ITV, British viewers received a sneak preview of the documentary’s content when a fellow named Tom, who likes to dress up as a Dalmatian named Spot, appeared for an interview with a close friend and former fiancée named Rachael. To put it mildly, the program has provided many Britons with a juicy fodder for water cooler conversation.
Tom is a sound and lighting technician in everyday life, and he has spent more than four thousand pounds—that’s nearly $6,000—on his canine accoutrements. Tom has a custom-made rubber suit and a dog crate that he uses for his nighttime slumbers. He says, “It doesn’t look comfortable, but you can curl up in different ways, there is more space than you think.”
According to the documentary, as many as 10,000 “secret pups” live in the United Kingdom. Many of them insist that the practice is not sexual in nature but is rather a response to stress in daily life, a reversion to a simpler state of being. As Tom says, the practice is “an obsession and an escapism. It would be a very boring life if there was no puppy play.”
Baffled viewers took to Twitter to express their befuddlement—and also to register their skepticism that the practice has no sexual component. One woman named Kirsty tweeted: “I’m sorry but him saying it isn’t a sexual thing is lying! It’s extreme bondage gone weird.”
One man quoted only by his puppy name Dynamo, commented, “A lot of them work in high pressure jobs and control a lot of people, they are CEOs and it is a way for them to express themselves in a way they can’t as a human.” Another fellow who becomes a rottweiler named Chip says “When I am not running around on all fours I work in catering.”
After the documentary airs tomorrow night, you can expect a whole new round of office conversation to start up again.
More after the jump…