alsatians, borzoi, chow chows, dachshunds, english bulldogs, german shepherds, great pyrenees, greyhounds, japanese chin, liangyou, old english sheepdog, pekingese, pugs, samoyed, scottish terrier, shanghai, sino-japanese war, skye terrier, young companion
Here is a neat pull-out spread of the global “Community of Dogs 走狗展覽” that appeared in the Shanghai-based pictorial magazine, The Young Companion (Liangyou 良友), no. 78 (1933), pp. 25-6. Pardon the seam; the reprint volumes are too large to fit on the scanner at once. Vintage photos are always nice, but the setup and captions here are what make this article for me, particularly in the occasional differences between the Chinese and the English.
I should start by mentioning that the title translates more literally as “Exhibition of Running Dogs.” The term zǒu gǒu 走狗 is usually highly pejorative, meaning a lackey or a stooge. In modern context, it’s a politically loaded term to label someone who toadies to foreign interests. In semicolonial Shanghai, where public expression was policed under the official KMT policy of appeasement (especially the Japanese, who had the military wherewithal to bomb the hell out of the port city as indeed they had, barely a year prior), the term could be loosely slung at anyone who indulged in the cosmopolitan allures of the city without minding the dire national situation.
This context might affect how you view this article, and what kind of details ruffle the surface.
Original text transcribed below in bold, a few revealing discrepancies retranslated in italics, and commentary in normal font.
The English [sheep]dog, white and tousled.
The Greyhound noted for its smooth elegance.
The obscure old character for this type of dog doesn’t even show up in any of my dictionaries??
Long-haired dachshunds are the elegant cavaliers among dogs.
Head of a young Chow Chow.
小犬餓矣！ The puppy is hungry!
The Borzoi with its aristocratic charm.
A little symphony in white.
Can anyone tell what kind of dog this is? A Pyrenees or Samoyed pup?
The hairy and lively Skye Terrier.
The Chinese points out the hair all over the dog’s body and says nothing of its liveliness.
Three Duchshunds [sic] are listening to something.
Three more long-bodied, short-legged “hunting dogs.” The term for hounds or any terrier is an XX liè quán 獵犬, or literally “hunting dog,” of which there were several different types native to China — most of them not shaped like these guys.
Gazing in a sad amazement at a world in which so much is forbidden.
兩狆犬之愁苦眼光，瞻望這不自由的世界。 The sad and melancholic expressions of two Zhongquan, gazing at this unfree world.
These dogs which are basically what we’d call pugs are named in Chinese as zhòng quán 狆犬. Apparently, usage of this term changes over time, so any Pekingese type which was called a zhong dog back then is now strictly known as a Japanese Chin, whereas the international “Pekingese” has been reinserted into the standard lexicon as the Beijing dog (北京狗). I need to confirm this with further research.
At any rate, it’s not clear to me which “community” these zhong dogs are supposed to represent, especially when coupled with that cryptic caption — just what is forbidden to whom? Or more literally, what keeps them from being truly “free”?
Ready, aye, ready! The Alsatian.
Get ready for… what?
Young but with serious eyes.
Again, why the focus on the youth and the silent gaze of the Chinese-typed dog?
The aristocratic Pekingese dog from the Chinese palaces.
See my note above about the zhongquan. I do find this nice-looking Peke to be very unlike the mop that dusted off the Crufts Best in Show trophy in 2003.
The English Bulldog, the national symbol, is all concentrated, massive, steady power.
The hairy Bobtail.
The Old English Sheepdog.
The Scotch Terrier is a jolly fellow.
蘇格蘭獵犬，蠢蠢欲勭。 The Scottish Terrier, wriggling and feisty.
Another hairy Skye Terrier.
This final caption sticks out to me the most.
Two Japanese Chins.
兩日本小犬，瞧牠的小器的陰險的神氣！ (Chinese text found on first page)
Two little Japanese dogs. Check out their mean, treacherous demeanor!
It seems obvious from the selectively truncated English translation that someone didn’t feel like going where the Chinese caption went. However, what is also notable to me is this: outside of Japan, nobody else saw the Nihon ken as distinctively Japanese dogs — yet. What gets codified here as a “Japanese” dog is the toy of dubiously foreign origin, whose fragile, bug-eyed, brachycephalic visage is almost the complete opposite of what would later become enshrined as the native, more lupine “ideal.”
In fact, the concept of canine primitiveness doesn’t even seem to factor into the construction of this layout at all. It’s less important that the Chow Chow looks the most wolf-life of any of these featured breeds than it is that the Chow is described as a hungry puppy. The most wild-looking creature is meant to evoke instant pity, even as it seems incredibly out of place with the rest of the gallery. Contrast this to the Chin pups, who are labeled as inherently suspicious (and also opposed to the “young but serious” Peke puppy), and the editors’ agenda is as exposed as Chiang Kai-shek’s forehead.
Sometimes mere frivolity is the only way to let off steam.
Yesterday, we went to the smaller, fenced-in dog park where we ran into two of my favorite local greyhounds, Bobby and Dexter. They are alumni of Greyhound Friends for Life, adopted by a kind, older woman who only takes in senior greys. I’ve known two predecessors of this pair, who also had the sweetest temperaments — she really knows how to pick them, as they’ve all been marvelous ambassadors of their breed. Collectively, this silver-haired woman and her golden years greyhounds have really turned me onto this breed, and I hope someday to be in a position to rescue one or two.
I didn’t always appreciate the sighthound skinniness though, and for that matter, neither did Bowdu. One of her first that we met (about five years ago) was so incredibly frail and dessicated in appearance, even Bowdu had a hard time recognizing her as a dog. When he marched up to this greyhound all tough-like, the greyhound froze. Didn’t move, didn’t acknowledge Bowdu’s “greeting,” and just stood there as stiff as a barren bush.
Bowdu sniffed the stick-figure dog all over, and when there was still no movement, he did what he would do to any other shrub.
Bowdu lifted his leg and peed on the old greyhound.
That poor old greyhound (whose name escapes me at the moment) didn’t make it through the winter, but there was another to replace her, and then another after a few well-spent years. I’ve noticed that Bowdu is willing to be close and to hang out with them all (he grew out of the habit of marking other dogs, thank goodness), despite his usual prejudice against tall, leggy dogs. The latest one, brindle Bobby, is so tall that Bowdu has walked right under him in the past, as casually as walking under a picnic table.
For me, Bobby and Dexter are just highlights of a dog park that the Two Bows usually find boring and, frankly, a little too small for their taste. Bowpi’s tail started drooping after twenty minutes, and Bowdu decided to lie down in the shade, which was my cue that they’d had enough. So we left pretty soon afterward… but it was nice to see the greyhounds and their person!
If I can’t shop local, I at least try to shop indie.
Of course I don’t buy everything from local retailers. Even I sometimes find it more expedient to go online and have stuff shipped to me. That’s just the reality of commerce these days.
So once I figured out how doggy coats are supposed to fit, and realized what Bowpi needed to protect her from the local elements, I went in search of something more appropriate to her sighthound frame. For specialized canine apparel, I think it made sense to go online.
After some thought, I ordered a simple “Cozy Fleece” from Montana Dogware. Their coats are primarily designed for greyhounds. For other breeds, they offer some design features that I like, namely the turtleneck for long, thin necks, and this…
That’s a tail notch made specifically with curly-tailed Basenjis in mind. YES, I’M A SUCKER. But it really does work out perfectly, and I like that I didn’t have to provide my own measurements for a nice hand-sewn coat since I’m not sure exactly where to measure anyway. I just ordered an XXXS Tail Notch Basenji-sized fleece, requested a color, and a week later, Bowpi had a lovely new coat to show off.
So even though the temperatures don’t get as cold here as they do in Montana, I’m sure Bowpi appreciates her coat nonetheless!
The Mighty Hunter by Cori Solomon, available here
Cori Solomon draws lovely sighthounds, mostly with pastels. While I am, of course, drawn to her Basenji portraits, like The Mighty Hunter depicted above, I think some of her most arresting portraits are of Salukis, such as this majestic creature here:
Feathered Scrutiny, available here
Attitude, available here
She lives with Salukis, and has obviously studied them well to be able to render them with elegance and personality. Salukis were on my personal list of breeds to consider when we were searching for our second dog. However, STOLA (the Saluki Tree of Life Alliance) never had any listings in our area, and they weren’t really popping up elsewhere. Sadly, I’ve yet to meet one in person. I was also looking at rescue greyhounds and whippets, but in the end, I think it’s fitting that we start our sighthound experiences with the Basenji — what Cori calls “Small and Mighty.” When we’re ready, there’s a whole lifetime to work our way up to bigger, or rather, taller dogs… Shiba Inu and Basenji compensate for their relatively small stature with “big” personalities, you know.
Howling for Joy, monotype print listed here
Please check out Cori’s Pawtraits at either her art blog or her website. Note that The Mighty Hunter (the Basenji portrait pictured at the top of this entry) is still available for sale, and part of the proceeds go to STOLA. Cori also offers notecards and envelopes in packages of 6, including a set that includes both “The Mighty Hunter” and “Small and Mighty”. Contact her via her website to find out more.