Metro Weekly

Spotlight: Puppy Park XII at MAL

Now in its 12th year, the annual MAL event provides a space dedicated to fun and frivolity for those into puppy play

puppy, play, mal, leather
MAL hotel: Puppy Mosh — Photo: Randy Shulman

“A decade ago, a lot of people couldn’t find outlets for being a pup,” says Alpha-Wolf Ursus. “These days, there are more pup-centered events around the country and the world because of events like Puppy Park at MAL.” Ursus is a member of Luna Grove, a bicoastal pack of human pups with members on the West Coast and in the greater Philadelphia area.

“There are moshes popping up all around the country,” Ursus continues. “The more people see the fun that pups are having and the welcoming energy of the events, the more people get interested in trying it out, if they’re curious about exploring that part of their kinks or fetishes.”

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend’s annual Puppy Park, which transforms one of the Hyatt Regency’s ballrooms into a space where human pups can scamper about, play with toys, nuzzle and sniff each other, and frolic without a care in the world, began about 12 years ago as a small group of pup play enthusiasts, says Tom Buckley, operator of the Puppy Park and a member of Centaur MC, which organizes MAL Weekend.

Once MAL moved to the Hyatt Regency in 2011, and the Centaurs were able to find more space for the pups to frolic, interest in the Puppy Park peaked. Attendance grew each year.

At some point during the middle of the two-hour-long pup mosh, Buckley typically introduces a gimmick or special “guests” — it may be a mailman, a dog catcher, a cat, Cruella de Vil, even a human-sized squirrel — to roust the pups.

“I like to keep it moving, keep it flowing, and keep the energy going,” says Buckley. “After an hour or so, I’ve noticed that the energy starts to die down. So about halfway through, I introduce some kind of chaos to pick that energy back up and keep the excitement going.”

Buckley is tight-lipped about what this year’s puppy pick-me-up will be, though he alludes to a single clue: Ball

“I have something special set for this year that I’ve never done before,” he says. “I’m not a hundred percent sure how it’s going to work, but I’m hoping it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Puppy Park XII is Saturday, Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, in Regency Ballroom B, C, and D. For more information on Puppy Park or Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, visit

Check the our Nightlife Calendar for more Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend events:

Nightlife Calendar: Drink Specials

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!