“Only death and desire have the force that oppresses, that takes one’s breath away. Only the extremism of desire and death enable one to attain the truth.” —Georges Bataille
“Every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience, whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, examining an idea.” —Audre Lorde
“In a word or 2, it’s U I wanna do/No not your body, your mind U fool!” —Prince
Picture it: a room cloaked in blackness, the staccato sound of metal against wood. Eyes grope the darkness but eventually adjust to uncover the sight of me, unclothed and flat against the wall. The sound of metal comes from the shackles around my wrists and ankles, outstretched by my sides as far as they will go. I wear a collar from which a chain descends along the wall behind me. Fatigue causes me to sag against my constraints, which dig into my wrists and ankles and chin. My skin tingles in remorse as I hang from the wall, but it also prickles, goosebumps extending underneath: If I behave, though my limbs are aching and I am thirsty and hungry, my Mistress will care for my sores, rewarding me. I crave her affection and relish her discipline. My knees are bruised and scraped from days before. She approaches, her heels on the hardwood floor reverberating through the closed door. It’s as though the walls hoard her sounds and amplify them in my ears, and I embrace the torturous waiting. Excitement overrules my exhaustion. My arousal increases: a delectable expansion moves through my pelvis, as my muscles clench and tense. I want to be here. I want to please her. I want release. I will wait.
Let this testimonial from one satisfied pet show you, aspiring Mistress—there are many benefits to bringing a pet into your life. The relationship between you and your pet can enrich both your lives and bring you untold fulfillment. Here we provide a few helpful tips for embarking on that journey. These suggestions, by no means exhaustive, are gems from our personal experiences. They may not reflect the experiences of every Mistress/Master as they find and train her/his/hir/zir/their pet.
Is your life missing something?
You go about your day feeling restless, like there’s a power within you that’s bursting below your skin, your body too small to contain it. Passing by a lovely creature on the street, the thought burns in your mind: I want to rip you to shreds. And you just know they’d love every moment of it.
Bringing a pet into your life—whether as an individual, as a couple or as a group—is a huge responsibility. Almost anyone will tell you to get your house ready—to pet-proof your home. What we’re here to tell you is that you also have to prepare your mind. Are you ready to take control? Do you know what you want? In order to fully benefit from a special relationship with a pet, you must always have their best interests at heart. In order to properly discipline, you must be disciplined. In order to restrain, you must know restraint. An unruly Mistress is a danger and a disgrace.
Choosing your pet
How will you find your pet? Maybe you’ll lock eyes at the park or on your daily commute. Maybe that childhood friend will search you out after all these years. Maybe they’ll turn up at your door, looking for someone else, to discover it was really you all along. Yes, some believe in serendipity. For the rest of us, there’s Fetlife.
From the very start, communication is the most important skill in your devilish little toolbox. In order to establish the trust and care that is the foundation of this relationship, you must be direct and steadfast about your intentions. What are your intentions? If you’ve prepared yourself as we advised, you’ll have a few clear ideas about what you want. Do your research and understand your own power—you are capable of anything you can imagine and more. If you don’t know what you like, you won’t find the right pet. Remember this adage: we don’t always get the pets we want, but often we get the pets we deserve. Of course, you’ll discover plenty of new delights and treasures along with your pet. That’s the joy of the journey, but you have to start it yourself.
Did you know? The concept of “consent,” as deployed in radical, feminist and sexpositive cultural contexts, has its roots in queer/BDSM culture? In times when being outed was an even more effective tool of hate, fear, blackmail or revenge, gay lovers who walked on the kinkier side cautiously penned their assent in “consent contracts.”
Pets exist to please you, to give you love and pleasure, to fulfill all your needs. In this way, it could be argued that you depend on them, but in reality, they depend on you. Pets need affection, and they also need firm boundaries. Devoted training is essential, and taming your pet is an ongoing conquest. One day your pet may fall in line and even come to anticipate your needs. Or maybe they will never learn to behave—but that could be its own fun, couldn’t it?
The most important part of training is consistency. You are in charge. You must not waver. Know how to use your toys and tools, if you have them, and give your pet a timeout if you need space to compose yourself or prepare. You may both need a timeout—be prepared for this as well, with a magic word that temporarily releases you each from your formal roles (although the silken vise of your control will caress your pet in every moment of their existence whether or not you are in your role or even present).
To leash or not to leash? This is a personal decision when it comes to the public. Maybe everyone needs to know who is in charge, or maybe it will be your thrilling secret. Maybe just for special occasions or among like-minded company. It is up to every Mistress to decide, with some input from their pet to be taken into consideration.
Rewards and Punishments
In one sense, the pet comes first. In the other, only with permission. Solid rewards and punishments are essential to train your pet. Be creative. Sexual rewards and punishments are obvious and indeed essential, but see that they don’t become hackneyed. Seek to expand your understanding of the erotic to include everything: the crisp corners of a well-folded shirt, the unsoiled surface of a freshly mopped floor, the phonemes that comprise words as they pass through your obedient pet’s lips.
Know your pet’s limits. How long can your pet be safely restrained? Know your own limits. Really, the truth is— you will discover (and revise) your limits together. That’s the fun of it. If you or your pet reaches a limit unexpectedly, it might be time to use the magic word, or to press on. Punishments must be given, both for their own good and for your satisfaction, but after serious discipline, a dose of aftercare doesn’t hurt. A little affection can go a long way—let your pet know they’re still your pet.
The health needs of pets vary greatly between individuals, but we can say two things for sure. A healthy pet is a happy pet, and a wet nose is generally a sign of a happy Mistress as well.
As with health, the grooming needs of each pet varies. A dedicated Mistress will oversee every aspect of her pet’s life, down to the length of their hair and fingernails. Your pet ought to look the way you want in order to satisfy you. Their personal preferences can matter too—you shouldn’t humiliate your pet! Not without their consent, that is.
Our power as Mistresses defines the existence of our pets in the liminal dreamscape of the erotic, but also penetrates their straight life. Some may choose to leave more literal marks on their pets. Tattooing and branding are wonderful (and traditional) ways to merge flesh and will in a permanent bond.
What is Power?
Power is all around us. We are constantly in its flux, subject to it, and exerting it on others. Mostly, though, power involves surrendering: surrendering to ourselves so that, in turn, we may allow ourselves to surrender to others. Accepting our needs and wants and demands, giving ourselves permission to accept. The consensual power exchange at work in the relationship between a Mistress and her pet is a way to both know and own that power, and perhaps also make peace with the parts of ourselves that are capable both of dominating and wanting to be dominated. It is, suffice to say, not for everyone. But maybe it’s for you.