Furvey - Pyesetz the Dog

 (March, 2004)


0. What is your name?

Names fail to attach to the quintessence. Like collars, they merely identify an instantiation.

1. No really! What is your name?

Anonymous Coward.  Please excuse the paper bag over my head.

2. What is your email address? [Use * instead of @ to avoid spam]


3. Are you male or female?

<Checks groin> I appear to be male.

4. How old are you? / What is your date of birth?

I'm old. I'm really old. While I can't say from personal experience whether Tyrannosaurus rex walked upright or with its backside held flat, I can say that I am actually older than some hills.

5. Where do you live?

South Jersey, USA.

6. What are your interests/hobbies?

I'm a computer geek. If it doesn't involve a computer, it's just something to pass the time until I can get back into cyberspace.

7. What do you do for a living?

I'm a software engineer. No, that's not (just) a computer programmer with delusions of grandeur! Software engineers write firmware. We do it on time, in spec, and under budget. I'm starting to get bored with it.

8. How would you describe your personality?

Actually, I was hoping you furs could help me with that. I've been called "abrasive" and "silly" and "helpful". How do these fit together?

9. Do you believe in ESP? Do you consider yourself to be psychic?

The sense of humor is just a reanalysis of data from other senses. It's all software -- there's no dedicated organ for it -- therefore it's extrasensory!

Occasionally I "know" things that turn out to be true, although I can't point to any sense-data that this knowledge could have been derived from.

10. Are you a meat eater?

Beef. It's what's for dinner.

Furry media

11. Who are your favourite furry characters? I used to like Kimba the Lion, but haven't seen the show in many years.

I like Walt Disney (founder, not conglomerate), Jim Henson (ditto), Mel Blanc, and Genndy Tartakovsky (is he furry?).

12. What type of furry artwork do you enjoy viewing?

Furs' home pages. I like trying to match up the self-portraits with the autobiographies.

13. What type of furry literature do you enjoy reading?

Parodies. If it's too serious, the talking animals are just pretentious.

14. What types of furry media do you create?

Words, words, words!

15. What types of animal/furry themed decorations adorn your living space?

Nothing. I'm sitting here next to a bookcase filled mostly with science fiction, and a painting of rolling waves on a seashore.

16. Describe your ideal plushie.

I still have a dog with a ridiculously-large head and a very short tail that I got when I was four.

Costumes and collars

17. Do you enjoy wearing fursuits and/or furry accessories?  [collars, tails, ears etc]

I don't like collars. Never worn a tail. Ears are cute. Never worn a full fursuit, but would like to someday.

18. Do you feel 'furrier' when wearing a fursuit/collar/tail etc?


19. Describe your favourite/ideal 'furry' appearance.

See question 34.


20. What are your phenotype(s)?

Dog: I am exactly what I am. No standardized pigeonhole can describe me.  For the purposes of participating in the furry community, I have elected to take on the fursona of "Pyesetz the dog". Imagine a Russian wolfhound, but of course I look nothing like that.

Bird: What I look like doesn't matter much. I live in a world of sound. If you like, you can think of a purple martin, with the voice of a parrot.

Ape: Imagine the hindbrain of a Homo erectus, anthropomorphized with a modern cortex and similar accoutrements, though of course I look nothing like that. Or do I?

21. How/when did you discover the identity/species of your phenotype?

Dog: My mother insisted that all her children had to be dogs, but I'm the black sheep of the litter. Some people thought I must be kidding. "Surely you're a cat?" they would say (this was in the old times, when cat and dog were the only phenotypes that could be mentioned in polite company). No, I'm a left-handed dog with feline characteristics.
     Recently I came across a fur's homepage with a picture of a cat who says, "Woof!" That author self-identifies as a fox. Pyesetz means "arctic fox" in Russian. So yes, I am «The Dog Named "Fox"»!

Bird: In grad school I used to whistle a lot while the dog ran the software debugger. After a while I got really good at it! Once, I did a three-part harmony with Kermit the frog (in throat), banjo (mid-tongue) and violin (tongue-tip). It got applause from my office-mates!

Ape: When my daughter was born, my phenotype had to shift. Human babies have no pretense. They're happy to be just the animals they are. If you're an ape's daddy, what does that make you?

22. What conditions help you to enjoy/express your furriness?

Dog: cold weather, insane deadlines, loneliness, failure, a need to communicate with animals.

Bird: warm weather, plenty of time, friends, success, music.

Ape: family, co-religionists, civic duties, abstract dangers.

23. How and when was your furriness first evident?

What is furriness? Is it when your inner child has an inner animal? I've always had that.

24. How much of your furriness is 'instinct' vs 'learnt'?

Dog: It's a gift/curse from God.

Bird: Dunno. You want a percentage? I hate numbers!

Ape: I think it's all a learned response to the difference between the world my body expected to live in and the one I actually experience. I believe I was born to be a shellfish-catching shore-dwelling ape, but that habitat is gone and my ethnic group hasn't eaten clams for millennia. Anyway, computers are much more fun than making stuff out of vines and rocks.

25. How does your furriness influence your thoughts and emotions?

Dog: I remember feeling resistance to putting on a necklace my girlfriend got for me — IT'S A COLLAR! I DON'T WEAR THOSE! But I put it on and trotted down the path towards domestication. Now the old wild days seem hard to remember...

Bird: This question gives me a headache.

Ape: Furry feelings receded during the '90s, when things were going well for me. I had a job that was probably better than any other job I could get, the family was growing, and terrorism was not a "domestic" problem. Now I feel like I need to jump out of my skin and become someone else. Call me "Gregor Samsa". No, better not.

26. Has your furriness improved the quality of your life?

Dog: I have more patience than the ape. When the going gets tough, the dog leads the way.

Bird: Jokes! Furries are fun!

Ape: In an advertising-dominated age, I try to stay real. What would Homo erectus do?

27. What do you think caused your furriness?

Inherited genetic anomaly. We're all furs where I come from.

Acting furry

28. How does your furriness manifest itself externally?

Dog: I've been known to bark when people meow at me. I walk digitigrade sometimes.

Bird: Avian reproductive metaphors. (Hey! Look at the big words!)  Example (said to mate): "I'll make the nest, you lay the eggs."

Ape: When my son was three weeks old, we had a -- let's call it a naming party. He couldn't even hold his head up yet. I put him up on my shoulders and laid his head on mine. He grabbed my hair in his fists (his only coordinated movement at that age). To appease the mundanes present, I held my hands behind my neck as I walked around the room, to catch him if he let go, but of course he didn't let go. Until recent times, babies who let go did not survive.

29. Do you act furry in public?

Not in recent decades. It was easier in school, surrounded by other furries or proto-furries.

For the last two Hallowe'ens, I've been wearing a mouse nose & ears while taking the kids around the neighborhood. (It's a safer place now than in the old days, despite what the fear-mongers say.) I make a few mouse-noises, but it's not a phenotype I'm very familiar with. I bought the rat-face because it was on deep discount.

30. How does your furriness influence the way you interact with people?

Not as much as I would like. I signed up for International Furry Meetup day, but April 6 '04 is an ethnic holiday, so I can't possibly attend until the May meetup. Is there anything else in South Jersey/Philadelphia? I'm not ready for Anthrocon yet.

A long time ago, I was passing through the student center at college and discovered that there was an SF-con going on. I didn't feel like paying for it, but they told me attendance was lousy and they weren't checking badges anymore, so I stayed awhile. The "Hardware Wars" movie was amusing, but the discussion group was lame. I kept hearing this word "mundane". I wanted to shout at them, "Your pitiful attempts to escape the normalcy of your existence barely move the weirdness meter off its zero pin!" (At this time analog displays were still common.) "I could try my hardest to be normal and *still* be weirder than you'll ever be!" But I didn't want to ruin it for them. I've never attended another SF-con.
     The next day I was walking through the student center again, accompanied by another doggie. The SF-con had become a FurCon (they were not held separately until 1986). There were folks in face-paint and others in fursuits. I was talking to my friend and accidentally bumped into someone whose face had had whiskers attached to it. "Mrraow!" <Watch where the Hell you're going!> said the cat. "Grruwlf!" <Sorry, but what's the big deal?> I replied. The cat stood there for a moment, as if parsing my bark, then its face brightened. My doggie friend grabbed my arm and started dragging me away, saying "You don't want to talk to those people! They're *WEIRD*!" -- "Oh, and what are you, ¿NORMAL?" But I went with him, because the cat was female and therefore scary.
     I now believe this was a mistake. If I had attended that FurCon, by now I could have become a big old frog in the small pond of furry fandom. I could be telling stories of the old times, like when -- wait, isn't this supposed to be a furvey?

31. How much control do you have over your furriness?

When things are not going my way, the dog is hard to turn off. Also, the barking at meowers happens too fast to be consciously controlled.

I've been told my whistling sounds much better if I don't try to guide it.

The ape is very set in his beliefs and sometimes doesn't want to be confused by facts.

Furry thoughts

32. Would you become an animal/furry, if you -couldn't- change back?

I like having a big brain. Becoming a normal dog doesn't sound very appealing. If an evil magic curse forced my body to take a canine shape, but I stayed the same inside, I suppose that wouldn't be too bad, although it could make computer programming very laborious and painful.

33. Describe your ideal physical form.

Dog: Who cares about physical form? Maybe it would be interesting to live as a disembodied software entity.

Bird: Can't say anything PG-rated about this.

Ape: My body isn't so bad as it is, considering that I don't exercise it much. Sometimes I wish it had thicker fur on the forelegs. The few dark hairs on the thorax seem like afterthoughts, but this is the way males in my germline are supposed to look.

34. What kind of furry fantasies do you have?

Recently I came across an article on somethingawful.com about an abomination called "furries". The article kept repeating "Dry humping in fursuits!", as if this were the worst thing furries ever did. "How sweet," I thought, "a bunch of repressed people putting on animal costumes to get over themselves and find friends." I started searching the web for more info on furries and, well, here I am. Actually, I've been obsessed with it for weeks. Stuff I haven't thought about in years keeps insisting that I reanalyze it now. The animal within is interested! In hacker jargon, I have entered "the larval stage" of furriness.

So here's how the current fantasy shapes up. I'm wearing a fursuit, either a not-so-friendly dog or maybe a blue fox (but *not* cerulean blue!). I'm using a fake Russian accent that I've been practising recently for no good reason. (Don't ask me why I spent so much time last century studying Russian. It's been of little practical use to me.) I'm at a con, maybe PenguiCon, which apparently isn't the fursuit-friendliest place. There's resistance to letting me in with a suit on, so I say, "My day job -- make proprietary soft-uvare with DRM. Khere at cohn, am free softuvare dohg. I am -- khow you say -- in-cog-ni-too." Once inside, I engage the people in discussions of open-source philosophy, and everybody loves the fursuited dog for no reason. Of course, they're all relatively mundane, but I'm wearing a silly suit and speaking in a silly accent, so what do I care?
     Eventually I come across Eric Raymond (who was at PenguiCon 2003 and therefore unlikely to attend again for quite some time) but he's surrounded by a mob of supplicants and cannot see me. Despite the fact that I'm horribly out of practice and couldn't possibly pull it off, I start whistling the theme from "Star Wars" to attract the old goat's attention. (Star Wars was the first polyphonic piece I ever whistled, back before it was renamed "Episode 4"). Conversation stops, a wind from nowhere blows eddies around my feet, and Eric is reminded of similar situations he has created with his flute.
     I'm not sure what I talk to him about, but apparently it has something to do with succession issues at the Free Software Foundation (I'm an associate member, he's an old-timer). "Stallman is not well," I say, but the rest of the conversation is unclear...


35. Is your furriness compatible with your religion?

Dog: I think God wants me to be a prophet. There's some message I'm supposed to prophesy, as soon as I figure out what it is. Apparently it has to do with free software, or free programmers, or something.

Bird: "Introspection" is a very long word. Maybe Billy Joel could make a rhyme out of it, but I can't.

Ape: I don't see a problem. The religion of my ancestors does not require denying the animal nature of humanity.

36. Has your furriness led you to reconsider your religious beliefs?

I reconsidered the beliefs of my ancestors when I received them, but I can't think of any beliefs I actually adopted but then dropped due to furry incompatibility.

37. Have you ever communicated with an animal spirit?


38. Do you believe that you were an animal in a former life?

If so, it must have been a horse -- of course! Are any "Mr. Ed" fans still alive?

39. Do you believe that you have an animal soul?

Is there any other kind?


40. What animals are you most/least comfortable with?

I'm best with carnivores. I can't seem to make any contact with the squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits who live in my backyard, but I did manage to get through to the possum once, although the message I was trying to send -- "You are welcome here" -- was not one that made the rabbits very happy!

41. Do you believe that animals have ESP?

I think the need for ESP was one of the main driving forces for the development of the neocortex.

I don't believe wild animals have supernatural ESP. They pay a lot of attention to their sense organs (because their lives depend on it) and try to get maximum knowledge out of whatever sense-data they obtain.

42. Do you think it is acceptable to hunt/raise animals for food?

Hunting to feed yourself and your clan seems reasonable. The prey animals have evolved under the assumption that there would be predators. Getting rid of the wolves leads to mass starvation among the deer.

Farm raising is okay as long as the animals get a better life than they would have had in the wild -- but it has to be better "from the animal's point of view", as near as we can determine what that is.

43. Do you think it is acceptable to hunt/raise animals for fur/leather?

Hunting for fur while throwing away the meat seems disrespectful.

Fur farming = okay if the animal gets a perceived better life out of it.

Premarin (a drug produced from the urine of pregnant mares) is not acceptable, but I'll spare you the sordid details.

44. Do you think it is acceptable to hunt/raise animals for sport?

Dog: Sounds like fun! But I've never done it. Well, maybe once, but I suppose it's too "gross" to describe in this forum.

Bird: I prefer salad.

Ape: Hunting for sport (i.e., when you're not hungry) is incompatible with the traditions of my people, who prefer farm-raised food when available. But I think it could be okay if
  1. you eat what you catch, and kill what you maim.
  2. your hunting method is unsuccessful on at least 90% of attempts.
  3. unsuccessful attempts have a low liklihood of leaving the animal alive but in pain for an extended period.
I don't understand catch/release fishing. Doesn't that hurt the fish's mouth?


45. What are your favourite websites?

http://google.com (Duh!)

Oh, you mean furry sites? Furtopia, I guess, because it has so many furry homepages. LiveJournal is good, although 90% of it is crap.

46. What are your favourite furry mailing lists?

I'm not on any. Can anyfur suggest some for me?

47. How did you discover alt.lifestyle.furry?

Mentioned on fur homepages.

48. What were your very first impressions of alt.lifestyle.furry?

Ick! No smarts here, just posturing and grumbling. But then I read some more posts.

49. What do you like the most/least about alt.lifestyle.furry?

As a vain dog, I'm very happy with the set of responses to my first post. What a friendly group! <wags tail while panting> Things *could* have gone quite badly.

50. What would you like to see more/less of in alt.lifestyle.furry?

More discourse on furry philosophies of life.

-- Pyesetz the dog
   "More than a little over the top"