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.