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The Two Bows have been enjoying the obscene luxury of near-daily dog park adventures for quite a while now, as this decompressing ritual has become an essential part of prepping for my comprehensive exams.

We don’t usually go to our typical hotspots on the weekends for fear of overcrowding. But every now and then, we make a special effort because we know that on Sundays, there be Basenjis…

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16 October 2011

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You can just barely see Bowdu flicking his tongue in the general direction of his skinny, squirmy competitors. He does what he can to maintain the sanctity of his personal space, while getting as close as possible to the Food!Source.

Bowpi is such a non-conformist loner. Too cool to mingle with the rest of the crowd.

But she still lingers for handouts.

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We’re all very concerned about Dannii (above), the eldest of the Three Basenji Amigos who has a mass inside of his colon. As much of a heartache as this is for his momma, and as much as this causes Dannii’s back end to be rather unphotogenic…

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… he’s still a very handsome gentleman from the front. The important thing is that he doesn’t seem to be in constant pain, his appetite remains hearty, and his momma’s doing everything that she can for him.

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Our thoughts are with him and his family, both human and canine.

Sugar hunting

Meanwhile, we also ran into Sugar, our neighbor’s dog. She seemed a bit preoccupied. The ground squirrels have been reckless lately.

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Then there was a German Wirehaired Pointer that caught Bowdu’s fancy…

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I’ll allow the horrible composition in the above shot because it appropriately censors Bowdu’s humping frenzy. You can also see the fascination that all the nearby dogs had for the GWP’s back end… or specifically, his bulging testicles. Yes, he was unneutered, and he was perfectly calm and nonreactive about the extra attention my impudent little Shiba sought to lavish upon him. In this situation, my neutered male was the one being obnoxious…

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Luckily, the GWP’s owner was not offended by Bowdu’s antics. She was actually amused by his clumsy attempts to get a good grip on her significantly taller dog. When navigating the etiquette of dog park humping, I usually look to the owner of the mounted party to determine my next move (Bowdu’s personality dictates that the humpee is always going to be the other dog).

If the human takes immediate offense at the sheer audacity of dogs who dare express themselves in doggy terms, I’ll get Bowdu the hell out of there and move on. I’m sure there are many reasons why some people respond so strongly to these primal displays, but I don’t really care to psychoanalyze it right now. In rare instances, I’ve seen the mounted dog himself “overreact,” causing another defensive response from the other dog which snowballs into a scuffle. Though Bowdu has occasionally fallen into this category when he’s been mounted, it’s been years since he’s been involved in a humping-related argument, so I’d ascribe that more to his socialization pains than the occurrence of humping itself.

The way I see it, the best encounter is when the other party understands it as a normal part of canine interactions, and their dog also has a mature understanding of their limits. If humping does happen, the “ideal” sequence of events as I’ve observed is:

  • Bowdu mounts the other dog, and maybe scores a few vigorous thrusts.
  • Other dog makes clear their disapproval by gruffing or snapping sharply at Bowdu, not making contact, and twisting away.
  • Bowdu snarls indignantly at being rebuffed, but he easily slides off and does not pursue.

Occasionally this sequence needs to be repeated a couple times before Bowdu gets the message.

I call this my “ideal” interaction because the dogs are figuring out their own limits, without human hysterics getting in the way. Unneutered dogs will attract more attention in public, here in the US. Neutered dogs may be inclined to react. Unless the dog indiscriminately humps every dog he sees (this doesn’t describe Bowdu), I let the situation be determined by the dogs’ own social graces.

Assuming they, and their humans, have some to speak of.

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