A pup recently quoted his master online, telling of their conversation at gym.
"Pups should be arrogant and muscular. Not arrogant with their nose up in the air but determined to try harder, become better and want more. Not muscular as an aesthetic but routined and self disicplined into taking good care of themselves"
It's not how I would describe the admirable quality a pup can have which is "perseverance".
Unfortunately the language of the quote reeks of gay body focused elitism, but to be fair it was a conversation in a gym and very much in proper context. What the quote and discussion that followed brought to my mind was that perseverance and hard work are often undervalued or not mentioned in BDSM and pup play. There is a natural emphasis on the fun of being a pup, yet little focus on how to actually get to be a good pup.
Perseverance is also known as the personal quality of persistence, when a pup willingly continues in acting towards his goals despite obstacles, problems, even discouragement. It is a trait integral to pup training. It may seem less valuable to those who simply wish to put a hood on and play at being a pup. And that is fair enough. However, attaining a pup headspace, the pupzone, is not done easily and almost always requires training and practice. Which in turn requires perseverance.
Learning to be a good pup substantially differs from playing at being a pup in that in the playing you can spend hours just having fun, There is no learning curve to wearing some gear and barking and being intimate and pretending to be a pup. Learning requires perseverance to endure and overcome setbacks as you learn new things as a pup and develop new skills. It is by working at pup play to develop oneself that a pup develops a pup headspace truly, and acquires a framework of knowledge that puts all his pup play experience into a more meaningful perspective.
Choosing to only "play" as a pup and not train and learn can be self handicapping. By not making an effort at all at training, a pup can preserve, and even increase his self-esteem temporarily. It works as failing to practice and learn pup training can be used as an excuse for itself.
If a pup practices and doesn't do well at a pup training activity, he faces the possibility he might not be talented at it. Of course, it's obvious the need for more practice could be to blame but self handicappers usually don't cite that. Either way, he feels and looks bad. If a pup doesn't persevere and make effort at all, and then does well, he can claim he has natural talent. So not persisting and working at training, self handicapping, can seem to have an emotional pay off. If you spend a moment to think about it you can see that any emotional reward is short term, as the pup still has not developed and will probably abandon the activity.
It can be daunting to do pup training and learn new things. Self handicapping robs a pup of developing and possessing that trait of persistence. The self handicapper just doesn't develop perseverance in the face of difficulty. And the truth is that everywhere in life a pup will face setbacks. By persevering with pup training, a pup learns new skills, develops new approaches to problems, and acquires new outlooks and techniques and ways to solve a dilemma in more than just pup play. It is a fantastic outcome for a person from pup training to be able to tackle life with a fresh and adaptive outlook.
And this is where the role of a Trainer can be crucial. The quote above fails in a major way for me as it does not imply how important the mentor and Trainer is. We all know persistence can be futile. No amount of perseverance will overcome some odds. A Trainer helps a pup apply his effort sensibly, so that pup doesn't work hard inappropriately of purposelessly. The emotional support of a Trainer also helps a pup take pride in his accomplishments as they happen, accepting his Owner and Trainers positive feedback.
Persistence, perseverance, sheer hard work, effort - call it what you will. It is worth having in a pup.