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In the documentary The Natural History of the Chicken there’s a segment about Midwestern rural homeowners who rally together to sue a neighbor “game cock” breeder. They go on at length about noise pollution, which seemed to be the polarizing kernel of the issue, even moreso than the “redneck” sport of cockfighting itself (to quote one of the plaintiffs out of context).

This scene came to mind when I attended the 2011 Shiba Party in Novato last Saturday.

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Photos taken 4 June 2011

HUH? Non sequitir much? What do fighting cocks have to do with Shiba Inu?

Not a whole lot, I admit. I don’t mean to offend or confuse with my random connections. The doc was fresh on my mind from a recent viewing. Just as I found it funny that the sound of a hundred crowing roosters could be perceived as either “normal” country ambiance or riotous noise, depending on which side of the issue one stood, so too did I note with some amusement how the occasional eruptions of spatting Shibas on the sidelines were lightly brushed off by attendees — “Eh, it’s normal!” they might say before resuming conversation. One wonders if the average visitor to the park or the neighboring residents would agree!

Worlds collide

We arrived in the afternoon, missing the rainshowers that had flushed out earlier Shiba bloggers like Taro and Sinjin and Sienna. But by coincidence (or as evidence of the density of bloggers amongst Shiba folks), we immediately recognized the young pup that was on “stage” at the moment performing tricks for one round of the contests. It was the little strawberry, Ichigo! … And he does indeed know an impressive array of tricks.

Sibling play - with tongue

Ichigo’s sister Suki was there too, and they got some on-leash romping, moderated by Dad, whose snarl can be seen on the right side, below.

Whatever, dad.

Ichigo’s stance here signals to me that he was more than ready to defy his Old Man’s authority.

And then there were the soft and pliable ones…

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Here is a “Shibaholic” taking a potent huff of Beni-bara, one of the Shiba Cam royalty who made an appearance. Another Shibaholic, who surprised me by recognizing the Bows, was very nice and took me around to point out one of the B-team creams, Bento.

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I’m quite impressed by how the Shibaholics (the devotees of the Shiba Inu Puppycam) turned their online network into an annual pilgrimage. People had come from as far away as New York and the Caribbean to be at this event, and it was as much about their shared adoration for this breed-specific phenomenon as it was about meeting each other.

Uncertain ears

I’m afraid I don’t spend much time on the Puppycam boards, nor did there seem to be many other Shiba Inu Forum members present (I’m more familiar with the latter). So if I kind of felt out of place with my Taiwanese-bred Shiba and “Fake Shiba” Basenji, the two Bows were feeling it too.

We started to gravitate towards the rescue tent, where we knew there were other Taiwanese Shiba.

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Little R2 is one of NorCal Shiba rescuer Red Young’s pack. He came from TUAPA in Taichung, Taiwan (an organization I’ve blogged about before). It was nice to catch up with Red, and hear about some of his recent work. Between happily-rehomed Shibas that were in attendance and the potential adoptions that were waiting, ever so patiently, to happen, I was feeling a lot of love for the rescues. Jack and Abby from Northern Nevada Shiba Rescue were there, as well.

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Bowpi, the “out of coat Shiba,” huddles amongst the rescue Sheebs as the air starts to get chilly again.

Catnap
I forgot this catnapping sweetie’s name…

Pooped Penny puppy
Penny the puppy failed her temperament testing (she bit the rubber hand), but I have no doubt that she’ll find a loving home soon.

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“Creamy” came from Taiwan too, and now has a new name and a loving family!

Red joked about how Bowdu was probably the only Taiwanese Shiba in attendance whom he wasn’t responsible for bringing over. On one hand, I get a kick imagining the invisible thread that links all the local Taiwanese Shibas, blended amongst the crowd. On the other hand, it’s a pervasive reminder that the average pet owner is ill-equipped to do justice to the popularity of Shibas in Taiwan, both in terms of the practical knowledge to handle their breed “difficulties” and the social infrastructure to help keep them from failing. I know we had a hell of a time raising Bowdu in urban Taipei, and I sometimes wonder what might have happened if we hadn’t had the opportunity to bring him here, where it is infinitely more dog-friendly.

It's getting towards naptime...

So after all these years of living in the California Bay Area, and in all of Bowdu’s six years, this was our very first Shiba Party. Since we’ve subjected Bowdu to many a Basenji meetup, I thought it was only fair to turn the tables and see how it’s done on the “other” side. I’m honestly shocked at how well we pulled through. I had been braced for tangled leashes and hurt feelings and the possibility that I might be footing vet bills for some well-meaning but overenthusiastic pup’s muzzle meeting Grumpy Old Man Bowdu’s teeth. But he proved me wrong by behaving really well for this event, despite (or because?) being on leash the whole time.

Last one for the day

Bowdu rose to the occasion simply by being himself. Sometimes, that’s all I really need to ask of him.

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