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What I love the most about that hilarious Hyperbole and a Half blog post that’s been making the rounds is how the author draws canine postures. Some of her depictions of her Simple Dog remind me of Bowpi in her ganglier freeze frames, though this Basenji is anything but simple.

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Photo taken 25 November 2010

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Photo taken 2 September 2010

I have learned to read her differently from Bowdu, however. Bowdu conveys a lot of information with his whole face, particularly his eyes and the stiffness of his lips. He has very legible 眼神 — emotional countenance conveyed primarily by ocular signals.

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Photo taken 19 June 2007

Here, his face says I love you daddy I love your cookie daddy I’m a good boy give me a cookie please daddy please please please. Okay, the melty body posture helps convey the message, too.

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Photo taken 10 January 2008

Here his face says I stole this Sharpie fair and square and I’ll mess up your hand if you try to take this away without trading up.

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Photo taken 25 November 2010

And here, Bowdu is obviously happy and looking forward to going to the dog park!

Bowpi, on the other hand, is more expressive with her body. Notice her posture in the last picture above — she’s sidled up to Bowdu with her ears flat and her tail wagging low. When she does this on our way out the door, she usually manages to elicit a kiss or two out of him. Under normal circumstances, Bowpi does not seek attention from Bowdu. I think she manages to stay in his good graces by being obsequious when proximity calls for it. She’s very quick to turn her head too, expressing a complete disinterest in conflict.

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We regularly practice “Look at me!” exercises when we’re just hanging out on the futon, so she’s getting better about making eye contact with humans. But I still find it hard to read her facial expressions, since her wrinkled forehead gives her a perpetually anxious look. Instead, I usually look to other body cues to see how comfortable or nervous she’s feeling. She expresses a good range of emotion with her ears and her tail. She’s also becoming more vocal these days, though she has yet to emit a full-on yodel or reach anything close to Bowdu’s lusty Aroo-roo-rooos.

Serious mooching
Photo taken 26 October 2010

Over time, I expect I’ll learn to read her whole range of body signals with a greater degree of subtlety and accuracy than I can now.

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