When you’ve got nice-looking dogs, you’ve got to be prepared to answer questions about them because they will inevitably advertise themselves just by being out in public. This weekend, Bowdu managed to take care of the answers all by himself.
We were walking along a new dog-friendly trail I had scoped out, which turned out to be multi-use (for bikers, hikers, and horse riders too). A high energy terrier streaked up from behind, tagged Bowdu, and zipped ahead. Bowdu, of course, took issue with the terrier’s audacity and dashed off in pursuit, snarling with a mind to correct the youngster for his horrible breach of etiquette.
I called Bowdu because I didn’t want him bullying the other dog, but he ignored me and went off at a full gallop down the trail. The terrier was easily outrunning the Grumpy Ol’ Man though, so instead of following, I slowed down and hung back.
A Chinese couple who had witnessed the provocation approached. “He don’t listen to you?” asked the woman.
“No, he has a mind of his own,” I said, and trailed off. Something about her tone of voice made me pause to consider my response, because I wanted to explain. It’s not exactly that he never listens. We actually understand each other pretty well, but we communicate via other cues. For instance, I knew that calling after him when he was already so far away would do very little other than to remind him, Hey! I’m here! Running after him would be just as pointless because I’d never catch him, and he’d be back to find me soon enough. To save himself the ultimate indignity of losing, Bowdu tends to quit as soon as he senses that he has no chance. And at this point, the terrier was likely several horse-lengths ahead of Bowdu, which meant he was due to turn back at any time.
“My daughter really wants. So pretty. But she say they don’t listen!”
I smirked knowingly, and was quietly grateful that her daughter had at least done some research into the breed.
Then the next question. “How expensive? Very much money?”
This one always throws me off. As fixated as I am on personal finances, I’m not accustomed to thinking about the Bows themselves in monetary terms. And I have to admit, I usually think less of people who make this their first or second priority when considering a dog.
“Well, I got him in Taiwan, so it’s hard to compare…” I started. That really wasn’t very useful and wasn’t what I meant to say, but at that point, the conversation suddenly switched to Chinese when they realized I could speak Mandarin. So that made things easier. I explained that the initial cost was a negligible fraction of what I’ve spent on him, what with everything we’ve gone through over the years. I tried to impress upon the couple that he was a “bargain priced” Shiba at the outset, but he’s actually relatively high maintenance with his dietary, grooming, and chronic health needs. And I tried to hint that if cost was a concern, but they still HAD to have a purebred, there are a number available in rescue…
But all of this seemed to be falling on deaf ears as the woman watched Bowdu with an utter look of enchantment. Maybe I wasn’t being explicit enough. As Bowdu came trotting back, she started going off again about what a pretty dog he was, and how she really thought he was the perfect size and he looked so smart and was so clean.
And as if on cue, Bowdu lowered his snout into a pile of fresh horse poop on the trail, inhaled deeply, and then plunged in for a dip.
NOOOOoOOOoOo I yelled, lurching after him with arms extended, even though experience has taught me that it was already too late. He jumped up and snorted in defiance, then moved to another fresh pile further on up the road to do more of the same thing.
Meanwhile, Bowpi was hovering way too curiously over the scattered remains of Bowdu’s first pile. Though she didn’t follow suit with a scent roll, she decided to take a dainty nibble of the horse poop instead.
Yechkkkk!! I snapped back, temporarily immobilizing her as my shriek of disgust shot down the trail towards the Chinese couple, both of them grimacing at the actions of the Two Bows. Nothing stops a conversation short like canine coprophilia, I guess. At least Bowpi was willing to step away from the funny-tasting meal and tiptoe to my side. Bowdu, however, was in a world of his own. “See? You’re right. He doesn’t listen.” And I stomped away, knowing the only way I could get him to quit was to move out of range.
I swear, dogs can be such nasty things. I was mad at the horses and their riders too, because it doesn’t seem fair that dog owners are required to pick up poop, but horses can just deposit massive piles of shit in the middle of a trail, and NOT have to do anything about it. I understand the impracticality of dismounting for cleanup, but I’m surprised that more of these aren’t mandated, or, I dunno… Can’t you train a horse to kick their own poop over to the side? (No, I don’t know much about horses.)
Besides, for a creature that’s strictly vegetarian, horse poop still has a stench. The flies that swarmed freely all along the trail can attest to that, as well as the stinkfest that partied all the way home in the passenger’s seat.
Suffice to say, I will be avoiding all horse-friendly trails in future outings with the dogs, no matter how excited I am to try a new hiking route. It’s probably just as well that I keep the Bows away from horses (we haven’t run into one yet!). A half hour lost in the bathtub is going to seem like nothing compared to what would happen if either of the Bows were to get kicked or stomped.
If any “good” came out of that day’s adventure, I take comfort in knowing that Bowdu probably deterred an ill-prepared family from making the mistake of getting a Shiba, simply by being himself.