Everywhere I go, I feel like I have an “I (Heart) Dogs” sign floating above my head.
I dropped offline for a while, as I was busy flying back and forth across the world — specifically, to Denmark, where I spent a little time in Copenhagen before heading over to Aarhus for a four-day conference. Super glad to be back home.
Whenever I travel now, I keep an eye on the local canine landscape. Frankly, I was a little disappointed by how few Nordic dogs I spotted! Sure, I saw a few, but relative to the [also few] number of dogs in passing, not nearly enough for my satisfaction. Perhaps a function of where I was staying.
Meanwhile, it’s little things like this about pet culture that catch my attention, especially when traveling outside of North America:
This was in the window of a veterinary clinic, though I don’t suppose it’s a prescription diet. Nevertheless, it’s a different perspective to have the neutered pet presented as exceptional, problematic, in need of a special diet. In Europe, where intact dogs are the norm, the neutered dog becomes the medicalized condition.
When a possum wandered into the backyard this weekend, I learned something about Bowdu’s prey drive.
Specifically, his prey drive doesn’t kick in if the creature doesn’t dart and just huddles in place, hissing and making ugly faces. The worst that Bowdu did to the hapless opossum was bark and “play” bow, occasionally starting forward — but he did not make physical contact.
After a while of the same expression from an otherwise motionless creature, he lost interest.
Or maybe he was confused, especially when I brought out the camera. He kept staring back at me, as if wondering why I want to take a picture of that ugly ol’ thing?
Better than cleaning up bloody possum shreds!
Bowpi can be a pretty flexible pile of puppydawg when in rest…
… and in action.
The pit bull’s owner was very conscientious about how rough her dog was playing with Bowpi, due to her size. “Is this okay? Can your dog play like this?” she kept asking. I forget sometimes that many people see Basenjis as “small” dogs, because they don’t display the kind of frailty one associates with toys and minis.
Bowpi does get overwhelmed by larger dogs pretty quickly, particularly during chase. She’s good at outrunning them in short bursts, but can’t quite match their stamina when they keep pursuing and eventually catch up and knock her over. This pit bull was just charging in on her terms though, persisting in roughhouse instead of actual chase. Yet, it seemed she was holding back and playing rather loosely, as far as I could tell from watching bullies play before. And to my surprise, Bowpi was actually reciprocating.
Like I told the pit bull’s owner, Bowpi can handle her own until she doesn’t want to anymore, and then she’ll make it clear when she’s had enough.
On that day, I realized that when Bowpi gets overwhelmed, one of her strategies (as a reader once suggested) really is to deliberately lead the overly exuberant pursuer into Bowdu. I used to think his refereeing was obtrusive, that he was being the killjoy to her chase games.
Well, I think Bowpi has figured out Bowdu’s habits, just as he’s learned to relax a bit when she wants to play chase. And they have learned to cover for each other, developing something that might be called effective teamwork.
When Bowpi started to have enough, I could see her breaking away, but this prompted the pit bull to start chasing instead. When she caught up, she’d try to roughhouse again, throwing all her weight into a galloping headbutt. Bowpi wasn’t having that anymore, so she led her straight towards Bowdu, who jumped right in to intercept the pit bull. After a few moments of all sorts of communicative microsignals that I couldn’t fully observe from my angle, Bowpi was able to slink away without being tailed again.
It was some good playing, and a good finale.
So busy lately! Finally here to announce the winners of our last Honest Kitchen giveaway!
Our runners up, receiving sample packets of Perfect Form, are as follows:
- J. in Nevada, with Leo the dog
- Joy H. in Kentucky, with Paisley, Drover, Sookie, Abby, and Cali the dogs
- Kelly M. in California, with Pud — our first feline prizewinner on the House of Two Bows!
Our main prize winner is Mio in California, who will be receiving a two pound trial box of Love, THK’s beef formula!
Mio was lucky number one, the first commenter to jump right on the giveaway. First is just as eligible as last, according to the whims of Random.org. I’m especially pleased to announce Mio as the winner because I know she’s a Taiwan dog, and despite what cranky critics of international street dog rescues might say, is quite fortunate to have the life that she does here in California.
We’ve never met Mio, though she’s apparently a local-ish tugou. We did, however, get a chance to meet several other Taiwan dogs at a meetup last month. Like I said, I’m waaay behind on my blogging… so I’m finally getting around to posting the pictures now.
The park had a very strange layout — relatively narrow in width, a long stretch of unshaded, woodchipped land with most people concentrated right at the gate, near the drinking fountains.
Knowing that this kind of setup gets claustrophobic for Bowdu in particular, I didn’t mingle as much as I would have liked. I was keeping an eye on my dogs to make sure they weren’t getting bored and acting out.
Not that many of the dogs were as thrilled to meet me as I was to meet them. That’s a cool and guarded Formosan dog attitude for ya. They just buzz by with minimal interaction, doing their own thing.
I was fascinated by their body language of hesitance, caution, curiosity, anticipation — some consistent expressions seen amongst the group.
Those are two different brindles similarly craning to get a careful sniff of Bowdu. Maybe it’s something about Bowdu that brings that out in other dogs, no matter the end of approach.
And then there was mighty Bella, petite tuffstuff.
Bella’s person is a reader of this blog, and tipped us off about this meetup which was hosted in honor of Mary, a prolific Taiwan dog rescuer whom I had a chance to meet when I was last there. Like her dogs, she sometimes travels across the Pacific, and was in town for ongoing dog training education. Mary’s commitments are exemplary, and part of why I continue to feel that international dog rescue for Taiwan dogs in particular is justified, critics be damned. Not only does she send her dogs abroad, she shares her knowledge and experience which flows in both directions.
Such international, transnational communities of dogs and their associated dogpeople were on my mind during the presentations at SPARCS 2014 this year. I doubt I’ll get around to a proper recap of the conference though it will continue to filter into future writing. But that’s the point of education — knowledge accumulates, changes, flows. Most importantly though, knowledge belongs to those who continue to feed themselves on steady diets of the new and fresh, whether it be food or information.
This morning, I helped play tour guide to a couple of international visitors who are in town. As eco-activists in their own country who are very much concerned with landfills, land use rights, and ocean ecology, they wanted to check out one of the East Bay construction dumping grounds that is currently a contested site between the local parks and recreation bureaus, public artists, and homeless squatters.
Dogs are part of the landscape here as well, though this is one of the parks on the Bows’ list of parks we don’t go to anymore, because Bowdu started behaving very uneasily off leash, to the point where he was refusing to follow along even with high value food bribes. Consequently, it’s been over a year and a half since we’d been through. I wondered if Bowdu would still be freaky about it.
The answer was yes. After a quick poop off leash, Bowdu was ready to boycott entry again, so I had to reattach him and only then was he willing to follow along. Bowpi, however, enjoyed off leash privileges since she was behaving.
This site changes all the time. Today, I was closer to understanding Bowdu’s unease. The homeless squats had proliferated, while much of the art and color had been depleted. Even the anarchist library had disappeared; after I got home, I found out that it had been vandalized and burned down a little over a month ago. In its place was fresh garbage, not the construction debris that has always been there, and sprawling encampments. At least a couple very territorial dogs charged and gave us all a scare.
Bowdu’s nervousness is completely justified. Something here feels off kilter in a way I fail to describe with words, yet Bowdu clearly knows. I don’t expect to come back anytime soon, unless at the behest of another round of visitors.
Today, Bowpi met Obie, the tallest Basenji we’ve ever encountered. He has Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and is almost completely blind. I wondered if he could tell he was greeting another Basenji — or if he even cared?
And here’s an unedited photo of our tall guy standing next to Peeps, for comparison. Not the best angle, but you get the idea.
There was a pretty good, if rowdy, playgroup at the park today. My measure of its success is that even Bowdu was playbowing, chasing, and engaging other dogs beyond his typical intrusions (humping and bodychecking, which is his idea of “fun”).
When Bowdu gets into the fray, I have to monitor more closely. He tends to snarl and make all kinds of guttural noises when he gets revved up, and not all dogs (or dog owners) know how to interpret his excitement. So I missed a lot of great action shots, but I’m happy just to see him find other dogs he feels he can express himself around, instead of being an antisocial grump all the time.
Bowpi, of course, was keeping up with the crowd. Her silence is such a contrast to Bowdu, even when she’s running with a big, open-mouthed grin on her face. She’s a barkless Basenji, of course, and she doesn’t even pant after her sprints.
Unfortunately, the party was crashed when a streaking Corgi accidentally tripped the tallest, long-legged pup, who collapsed in a shrieking pile, apparently having twisted his paw. The sounds of canine pain are quite effective at immediately scattering a crowd. Maybe someone could package that sound as a mob dispersal tool.
Anyway, that was a quick end to the puppy party on the hill. The injured dog was eventually able to limp off, hopefully to get some rest and return to play another day.