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Meet The Man Who Walks His Fiancé On A Leash

Photo: Getty Images
SAY WHAT? Meet The Man Who Walks His Fiance On A Leash

Nathan Riely and his fiancée Xena love dogs. I mean really, really love dogs. 

They love them so much that Xena likes to act as one. Not only does Riely like to take his dog Scout out for walks, but he also enjoys having his human-puppy — with a collar and leash, mind you — come along, too.

Sure, they get some stares, as not many people are used to seeing a human pet being led around by a leash in public, but they're getting used to it.

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When pictures of Nathan and Xena at the Staten Island Mall went viral in 2015, people started becoming curious. You may see dog owners walking their pups, but you never usually see someone taking their fiancée for a walk every day!

However, mall employees seemed rather unfazed by them. One store employee said, "They're here all the time. They're normal people." While another said, "This is the only time I've seen the girl with a leash on like that. She shops here about once a month. She's a nice customer."

Photo: Instagram.com/victorkingnyc

A human pup is someone who identifies closely with real puppy/dogs, likes to let go of their human inhibitions, and embraces their animal instincts. They enjoy acting like a dog, which includes walking on all fours, chasing a ball, wagging their tail, and licking their owner's hand.

There's also puppy play, which is related to BDSM and its use of restraints and discipline. Riely and Xena aren't into that, as he calls their sex life normal and leash-free, and says, "there really is no sexual appeal to it."

For many people involved in this canine-roleplay lifestyle, they enjoy being, or having a human-puppy with no sexual fetish aspect to it at all. Sometimes, a sleepy puppy just wants to curl up in a ball and sleep on the floor. 

What should you do if you come across Riely and Xena, or another couple with a human puppy while on your morning run or getting ice cream?

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First, approach a human/pup/dog the same way you'd approach a real canine. If the pup/dog has their human with them, you should ask their person if it's okay to pet their pup/dog.

Never reach out your hand without permission, or you may get bitten or growled at. Never grab the dog/puppy's collar or leash, as some owners will think you're showing them disrespect. A pup/dog will let you know that it's okay to pet them by moving toward you, or they may lick your hand, or sniff at you.

If you are a human pup/dog and see another human pup/dog, use common sense; don't run up and pounce on them without introducing yourself first, using the dog language of barks or whispers. It's also perfectly okay to speak human language and just say, "Hi."

For Riely and Xena, the leash and the collar are symbols of their bond to one another. Some couples use rings, but they have a collar. 

Pretending to be a puppy/dog may not be your thing, but for these real dog-lovers, it's just another way to express themselves and stay in shape. It takes a lot of energy acting like a dog, let alone going on all those walks.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or and her Instagram.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on June 15, 2015 and was updated with the latest information.