Cuckoo in a nest of warblers
29 May 2011

We’ve been to several of these Basenji meetups now, and I still find it amusing to watch how Bowdu and Bowpi respond to the circumstances. Bowdu is learning that the swarm of all these not-Bowpis means that there are often treats to be had. He muscles into the crowd of curly tails like a cuckoo among warblers, while Bowpi usually waits on the sidelines for her share (that’s her in the foreground, above).

Poor ‘Du got pegged as a fighter because he snapped a few times at the other Basenjis when they got between his face and the food. While I do wish he was less reactive sometimes, I can see where he’s coming from. When he’s got his mooch on, he plants his butt down, as he’s been taught to do…

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… and waits to get his piece. He can’t abide by pushy dogs or others who accidentally invade his space when FOOD is at stake. From his perspective, they’re the ones that need a correction. At home, Bowpi quickly learned to stay back and wait her turn. But with so many other dogs at once, it’s impossible to account for their impulse control… not that Bowdu is great at that game, either. Which is why I usually prefer that he doesn’t get into the thick of it.


Photo taken by Chris

On the other hand, it doesn’t seem fair that he can sit so pretty and be denied his fair share of treats.

Over the years, he’s become more restrained, though I know he’s not perfect. I still have to keep an eye on him. Unless I’m running after Bowpi, who had a panicky moment at this event when she lost sight of me and started galloping towards the park exit. Luckily she wasn’t going at full speed, and she kept pausing to sniff other dogs, appearing a bit lost and forlorn. I followed, calling her name, but the park is so big that she couldn’t hear me until I had caught up much closer. Once I saw that she knew where I was, I stopped running and just let her come to me. She was more than happy to return. Bowdu even abandoned his mooching post (or maybe he got kicked out for his bad attitude) to help fetch her.

Close quarters

Some guy who watched me chase her down jokingly called her a “bad dog” as we walked back to the main group, and I just grimaced. Bowpi came back as soon as she saw me — how is that bad? That’s one phrase that we never use in this house. There’s usually a good explanation for undesired behavior, and it seldom has anything to do with the dog’s “defects” but the situation or our own, human mistakes. In this case, she was not accustomed to the stationary crowd, especially since she tends to linger on the periphery and she gets distracted by other passing dogs and people. She wasn’t escaping — I had let her drift so far away that she became disoriented, so she was running down the only path she knew, the way we always take to head back to the car.

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I can’t tell sometimes if her vision is weak or she just doesn’t look and scan very carefully. I’m inclined to think it’s more the latter, as her eyes are clear and she’s always checked out fine at the vet. She does have a mild condition as a result of previous eye trauma (which happened before we got her — a post for later), but I don’t think that was relevant here… Recall is not a problem any other day. And if she should lose her coordinates once in a hundred walks, well, we’re quick to put her back on track.

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