What is a "pack" of human pups?
The word pack is most often used in reference to an assembly or grouping of animals, particularly dogs or wolves. It can be derogatory when applied to humans; naming a band of people a pack of animals is usually a slur to their reputation. Of course, outsiders can often take a term with bad associations and own it with pride, such as a motorcycle gang being called a pack of bikers too. So it's no surprise that groups of people working together or living together in human pup play adopt the term "pack" with pride. It seems a natural perfect fit.
If a pack is a group of people behaving like animals, who are on the fringe of acceptable behaviour, then it is a perfect a fit. However, in ignorance, many take the definition further. Seeking to emulate a pack of wolves or wild dogs, there are those in the pup community who go further and describe pup roles in general and within a group in "wolf pack" terms - using terms like Alpha, Omega, Beta etc. There is a lot wrong with this line of thinking, but the simplest dismissal of it can come to this - let wolves be wolves and human pups be human pups. It is absurdly cruel to try and make a wolf live a human life, and the reverse should apply. A human pup is still a human being and most of all a wolfs lifestyle is not conducive to humanity. A romantic view of the natural world, a fantasist approach to emulating a wolf pack for human pups can lead to dysfunctional pups and people. Yet, the term pack is an accurate label for a group of human pups. The defining of how the group, the pack operates, is the area of contention and potential misunderstanding.
The Pack is Alive!
On a very basic level the human pup pack is a living thing. Each pup, each member of the pack is a different part, yet together they all form a functional whole. And like a living thing, the pack operates in an environment - whether it's online or in person, and that environment can be a community of pups or non pups. The pack relates and adapts to changes in the environment much like all living things do. In fact, sometimes the pack needs to take actions in response to the environment for the health and safety of the pack. The metaphor of the pack as a living thing helps explain how all the pups are part of a greater whole and they are forced to function in an environment wherever they are.
By thinking of the pack as a living thing we can accept that the pack needs to function healthily and safely perform in its environments. Some examples are how protocols can be followed to minimise chances of sexually transmitted infections, rules established on how pups interact with the partners of other pack members, and ways to communicate to each other within the pack so that everyone's needs are being met.
The Pack has Agendas!
Another important dimension of a pack is that it is a place where everyone involved has come together with a mutual interest in pup play. That is a good thing, as we all like to have a peer group to share ideas. However, it is highly likely that is one of the few things in common pack members will have. It is likely that many humans may enjoy being pups together but would not be likely to associate with the humans behind the pup hood otherwise.
So at the heart of the pack is a politic, a recognition that while everyone here is interested in pup play, they also have different desires of what they want to get out of it. Whether those differences are slight or huge, each pup, and Owner, seek to get some things out of being in the pack. Whether you seek to be a submissive pup or a dominant Owner, you want things out of pup play and being in the pack; you want a return on all the time, money and effort you put into the pack and pup play.
It's very important to not deny that personal politics exist in a pack. At times they can be very obvious as members manifest competing interests - which pup gets to spend more time with master for example. Consensus, working together, cooperation and compromise to the common interest of pup play will happen - just not all the time. Differences reflect diversity which is a good thing as it helps the living pack adapt to changes better. It is important that members avoid personalising differences, and recalling that politics will happen and the pack needs different thinking to thrive is the path ahead to a healthy functioning pack.
The Pack is what you Believe It is!
Ultimately a human pup play pack has a soul, a spirit, that brings the pack together. You don't need a holy symbol or a shaman to discern it though. It is the shared beliefs, the practices from training and their meanings - which all in the pack understand - and the values the Owner has instilled to members through instruction. That is what the spirit of the pack is. That mutual understanding of practices and their meanings and the values embodied by members from understanding are what makes a pack more than just a group of guys in leather gear fucking about.
In fact, the rituals and practices of the pack help make it special, and together add up to the collective meaning of what it "is" to be a member of the pack. The degree to which the pack treats equipment with reverence, the level of respect for authority or familiarity with the Owner, and the motifs and nomenclature the pack choose are all examples of the pack defining itself culturally as something that can be believed in.
Though members of the pack can and will do different roles, have different desires, they will still come together to deal with their environment - in their personal lives, in their community, in the world. That coming together becomes more than just mutual play, it comes to mean something to be together in the pack as the pup and Owner share experiences. What start as simple practices, such as treating pup hoods a certain way, become ritualised and meaningful, and the pack starts to stand for something.
So a pack is not simply a mob of human pups who act like unruly dogs unless dominated into submission by a BDSM master. Nor is it a replication of a wolf pack or wild dog pack. The human pup play pack is a dynamic group of humans who have practices that have meaning to them, who come together and work out how to engage in their desire for human pup play together, and form a pack - something special.