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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bow is Becoming More Independent

Not a lot has happened lately for me and Bow. I published Vacuum County, and it's gotten some excellent reviews. Leo and Brownie have become good friends, but we still have to keep Leo separated from Teyman, so the dogs go out into the back yard  in shifts. Sometimes Brownie and Leo are out back together, sometimes Teyman and Brownie, but never, never Leo and Teyman.  We are afraid that Teyman would kill Leo if left alone with him.

Teyman is the first dog we had here, and she is very aggressive. She thinks she owns the place. She just barely tolerates Brownie, even though he towers over her. But Brownie is a gentle soul, and he somehow manages to keep the peace.

Not every two dogs are compatible. The same goes for humans or chimpanzees. And sometimes two people who do just fine with each other alone cannot behave well together when a third person is introduced into the room. I've seen this with humans, with dogs, and with chimps. Social dynamics are a complicated thing.

One of the things we learned early on at Project Bow when we started having interns is that Bow could do just fine with a new volunteer when it was one-on-one, but then he might be violent with that same person, once another person with a more dominant rank was introduced into the room. For this reason, one of our rules is that Bow gets to choose who to invite, and we go in one at a time, never in groups.

Now that Brownie and the frisky little puppy are out together a good part of the day, Bow is more interested in observing what is going on in the back yard, and he often asks to go out. Before, every time Bow went out, I had to go out, too. So if it was not convenient for me, because I wanted to work on my laptop and I needed to set it down on a table, or the sunlight was too harsh to work outside, Bow had to stay in, too, or I had to give up on working. We had to negotiate about that.

But the biggest recent development with Bow is this: he's suddenly started asking me to go outside into the outer pens alone, and he lets me go back into the inner pen by myself, while he stays out by himself to watch the puppy and the older dog play. When he needs to use the potty, he uses the one outside. He doesn't leave a mess for me to clean up.

Today, he asked to go out by himself again. I went out with him. We watched the interaction between  Leo and Brownie for a while together, and then Bow kind of tickled me in a reassuring way and indicated that he was not mad at me, but I was free to go. He's becoming more independent!


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