I have so much to process on so many fronts, it’s hard to keep updated here. Meanwhile, earlier this week, there was a trip down to central Taiwan to visit relatives when my mom detoured through the island. It was lovely catching up with the aunties, and of course, their latest foster dogs.
Always with the dogs.
The little one, who was just found as a freshly-weaned stray, is at the stage where he demands constant contact with everyone and anything. He’s got the neotenous STARESTARESTARE down pat, though I’d hardly call him vulnerable.
The pretty yellow one is more reserved with her affections, and her warmth becomes evident with observation. She was found a while back having birthed a litter of pups, and has since been spayed.
I guess they’ve got each other figured out.
I suppose I’m on a posting binge this week after having been out of town for a stint. Anyway, I’m backtracking to Monday of this week, which was an excellent day for Taiwan dog-spotting. Not only did we see Ah Su (though they were on the other side of the bridge, so we didn’t get a chance to say hi), we also ran into this lovely little Shiba mix, Holly.
I joke about being a “dog stalker” with my camera, but it’s really only been the last year since I got this DSLR that I started seriously documenting the array of charming canines with whom we share our Bay Area dog parks. Yet, long before I’d started playing pupparazzi, Bowdu and I had met Holly when she was a mangy new rescue fresh off the boat (or plane, as it were) from Taiwan. I remembered her because I had taken pictures of her playing with Bowdu almost three years ago. And though I didn’t do anything with that footage and am not even sure I know where I stowed the digital files, the very act of photo documentation was enough to impress her story in my memory.
There’s no way that Bowdu could have remembered interacting with her, but he did seem to take rather naturally to her, as he does with a few dogs. She is mostly a Shiba with just a hint of something else that’s downright difficult to describe. We’ll call it her unique mystique.
As our red and white gang was hanging out on the crest of the small slope, I noticed another very interesting shape romping across the glade…
A Dutch Shepherd mix? The first Kai Ken I would get to meet in person?
Nope, rather a historical remnant of those colonial regimes. He was a fairly typey example of a Formosan mountain dog.
I guess I was too caught up in the spontaneity of the meeting to get the brindle tugou’s name.
Moments like this, I’m happy to have my camera on hand. These photos make each random encounter into a real event that I’ll be able to relive and recount years down the line.
I take pictures of other people’s dogs and post them on this humble little blog because I want to celebrate all the different ways that our social lives converge, are enriched, and are rendered surprising and marvelous, thanks to our pets. To that end, I vow to only speak well of dogs that are not my own, the dogs I file under Sightings. It’s the least I can do to express my appreciation for their involuntary participation in my cumulative canine education.
I’m currently on a “business” trip visiting our Great Northern Neighbour, so I may as well share some old sightings from the archives. Here’s a tribute to some li’l bits.
I took this picture of Squirt a long time ago, but never got a chance to post him. He’s the smallest member of his pack, but his person reports that he’s got the biggest attitude. And yes, he gets away with a lot because he is so darn cute.
Warning: Brilliant smile and jaunty bat ears may make dog appear larger than he actually is!
This newly adopted puppers isn’t quite sure yet about hanging out on the ground. The world seems a lot safer in a loving human’s arms.
I can probably count the total number of well-matched play pals in Bowdu’s entire life on two hands.
This is one of them.
When we first met Ah Su the Taiwan tugou several months ago, he caught our attention because he looked suspiciously like a Shiba mix. It’s definitely a possibility, given the popularity of Shibas in Taiwan. He has quite a slender build and relatively elongated form, though.
Ah Su was willing to play rough with Bowdu, rising to the challenge of his smack talk. Bowdu is really vocal when he plays, and he gets too intense too quickly for most other dogs who don’t seem to understand his body language.
But, like last time, Ah Su instantly connected with him.
There was a lot of butt-grabbing and mutual body-checking. I thought it was interesting that Bowdu actually let him get away with clutching his rump, but it seemed clear that this was done in the context of play, since Ah Su wasn’t actually humping him. Bowdu kept dropping and rolling to shake or kick him loose, but then he’d reengage by whipping the weight of his back end against Ah Su’s side. They truly made for a strange pair, especially with all of Bowdu’s growling.
Our tough guy was rather easily winded. He seldom gets the chance to exert himself like this with other dogs.
Before they parted ways, Bowdu had to get one final “word” in.
We’ll see you around, Ah Su!
I stared into those mesmerizing orange eyes, and promptly forgot this little guy’s name.
I thought he was a Boston Terrier + Beagle, but someone else called him a Black Pug + Beagle/Puggle.
This dog’s back end caught my eye, perhaps for obvious reasons. We followed the curly tail to meet up with the most curious Shiba-Pug mix. Ha! I see something new almost every time I go to the park…
Her name is Naca. She likes to hump her Golden Retriever friend. She is thick-bodied, snorfly, and got along just fine with Bowdu.
We went to the lake again last Sunday, when it seemed that everyone and their brood had come to enjoy the fantastic spring weather. The area was bristling with activity that day, and the Bows found themselves caught in the midst of it at a couple points. Though there were children everywhere, they behaved themselves wonderfully. For the most part, they just kept their distance. Occasionally they would get impatient and streak ahead past some toddler who was stalled and blocking a narrow path, but both dogs are quite surefooted and nimble, whisking by and barely brushing the kid.
We explored the back trails, where there was more shade and fewer people. It was a mostly pleasant time.
One incident soured the afternoon, and I keep thinking back and wondering how I might have handled it better. There was a woman, her husband, and their son on the main trail with a very young Husky puppy who, estimating from her size and her uncoordinated, clumsy movements, couldn’t have been more than three, maybe four months old max. I would have been surprised if she had all her shots. She was quite a bit smaller than Bowdu, so she didn’t trigger his typical hatred of Huskies.
The puppy took an immediate interest in Bowdu, and as they were merry-go-rounding about, nose to butt in a circle-sniff, the woman pointed to Bowdu and said to her husband, “Look! THAT’S the kind of dog we should breed her with! It’ll make her smaller!”
I immediately prickled when I heard that, and reflexively let out a terse, audible snort. And once I realized I made that sound, I figured I might as well say something, too. But what could I possibly say? I had nothing witty up my sleeve, so I just spit out the first thing I could think of that would not be what she wanted to hear. Instead of agreeing that Yes, yes, a mini Shibsky would be SUPER cute and profitable and you should strike a deal with the next good-looking Shiba you stumble across, no matter their temperament or genetic health status or owner’s ability to find good homes for the puppies!, I just said, “No, no it won’t” in as icy a tone of voice as I could muster.
That was all I said. Apparently it was enough to express my utter disdain. The woman glared at me hard as we got the hell out of there, before she could bother to ask me what kind of dog Bowdu was (if she didn’t already know). For a moment she looked like she wanted to throw me in the lake.
Her puppy kept following us up the hill, and I could hear her screeching after him, as if unleashing her fury on her poor pup who was all too interested in the snobby Asian lady and her pair of runty dogs. “TIMBER! TIMBER!! Get BACK here!!” She even called her bad dog at one point, as if it was the Husky’s fault that she was excited and off-leash in the wild, open woods without having been properly recall-trained. We just moved faster up the steep hill, and since the puppy was still in her wobbly, uncoordinated stage, we soon left her far enough behind that the woman was able to recover her dog and we were able to continue our walk in relative peace.
But I remained disturbed. I wonder if it would have made any difference if I had been just a tad nicer, if I had stopped to chat seriously with this woman who was merely out to enjoy a beautiful day with her dog and her family, if I had tried to explain all the dozens of reasons why she should not be thinking of breeding her pup, least of all to deliberately create a mix that serves no purpose other than miniaturization. Could I have changed her dog’s possible fate in a single afternoon, with a single conversation?
Would it even matter? Because even if this woman wasn’t serious, I know that every single day, many others deliberately entertain the idea that they have to breed their beautiful dog, that it would be great to create a bigger/smaller/cuter/rarer special wolfy mix, and that they’ve got a smart idea even though they have no clue what they’re doing.
This was also a reminder, yet again, that every time they’re out, my dogs advertise themselves and their breeds. With or without my intervention, they’re eventually bound to capture the attention of someone who will covet and acquire one with no clue as to what they’re doing.
As happened to me so many years ago now…
We can all learn at some point. But it takes someone to extend that opportunity and provide a meaningful context. Snark and snap judgments are more likely to make for ego flares and opportunities lost.
Maybe Bowdu gets that from me (and to some extent, the Doggy Daddy as well — though he’s the one who reminded me that nastiness towards strangers is unbecoming of me). Our precious little Sheeb wasn’t perfect at the park that day, either. He tried to boss around a couple dogs who were splashing around after a ball in his favorite corner of the lake, and he got snapped at and shoved into the water for his interference. No harm done, just the shock of cold water and some mud thrown on his face.
He probably deserved it, as I would have if the woman had thought to call me out on my rudeness.