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So Bowdu wasn’t always a jerkface around other dogs. However, I can count the number of times he’s really played well with another dog in the single digits.

Photo taken 18 September 2005

The wild child in this photo is 妞妞 (pronounced “Nyo-nyo”), my aunt’s four-month-old tugou puppy. Bowdu was about eight months old in this picture. We’d gone down south to central Taiwan to visit family. Not only was it the first time that Bowdu was able to play with another puppy, it was also the first time that he had gotten an opportunity to roll around in more than four square feet of grass.


Nyo-nyo was extremely fearful at first, hunkering down into a urinating ball and screaming if Bowdu so much as looked in her direction. She pinned those big, floppy ears back so hard and so fast that they kept flipping inside out, but she still wanted to get closer. She was curious. She wanted to interact.

And that’s why my aunt saw potential in her, I guess. Nyo-nyo had been dumped as a young puppy, owing to local superstition that regards black dogs with white-tipped paws as cursed creatures — dogs that appeared to have waded through the rivers of Hell (white being the color of death in local religious iconography). My aunt is as rural as they come, born and raised in that little Taiwanese village. But if there was one thing that set her apart, it was her refusal to buy into that strain of folk nonsense; all of her rescued street dogs bore those “unlucky” markings.


Once Bowdu and Nyo-nyo got over their initial shyness, they played like a perfectly matched pair.

For once, Bowdu was on the receiving end of puppy teeth!


We could have let them go all afternoon. But auntie came to collect Nyo-nyo and return her to her crate after barely forty-five minutes worth of playing. As much as I pleaded, she wouldn’t let her back out for another extended play session for the rest of the weekend.

Auntie had plans for Nyo-nyo. That is, she intended to exploit the tugou’s natural tendency towards territoriality, and raise her to guard the house. If she was going to do her pre-ordained job effectively, it would not do for her to get too friendly with strange dogs.


So that little friendship ended before it ever really got anywhere.

When we returned months later for Chinese New Year 2006, Nyo-nyo was no longer interested in playing with Bowdu.

Last photo taken 23 July 2006