Lucy is a recent addition to the growing stable of stellar Home Treat Home canine talent, and we could not be happier about it. Shar Peis are not especially common, and especially not shar peis of Lucy's pedigree (she is related to a top show dog but I have been sworn to secrecy and cannot say any more about that ever). Now I should say that we don't treat our dogs like Pokémon and we love and value them all equally—but it is pretty cool to see a rare breed every once in a while. And I mean, they're undenialby cool looking. Foldy faces. Eyes hidden behind said voluminous folds. Billowing lips. Curiously flapping nose. What do the Shar Peis hide under all that extra dermis? Secrets? McGuffins? Mysterium tremendum et fascinans.
Back to reality. I actually walked Lucy several months ago when she was a puppy, but since she was literally a quarter of the size she is now, I did not recognize her when I was reacquainted last week. For hardcore Doggy Blog followers, I walked Lucy with HTH social media stalwart Captain, but before you ask I DON'T HAVE A PICTURE OF THIS BLESSED OCCASION FOR SOME REASON. Needless to say, if you can perform a mental age regression program on the picture at the top, Lucy was extremely cute as a puppy. She's still cute, but the Platonic "puppiness" has matured into that wise, all-knowing radiance that exudes from all corners of her many wrinkles.
Related to this, I have been stopped more on the street in regards to Lucy than I have with any other dog. Actually, likely every other dog I've been walking combined—if you take out Cooper from the equation. And bear in mind, I've only been walking her for a week. It's definitely the rarity and resplendence of the Shar Pei mythos that caused this spike in street questioning, but it's been fun. Here's a typical exchange:
Passerby: Hey! What kinda dog is that?
Me: A Shar Pei!
P: A sharpie? Don't smell like no sharpie...
M: No, a SHAR PEI.
P: Oh, you mean the traditional Chinese breed, whose name comes from the British translation of a Cantonese word meaning "sand skin" and whose fierce loyalty and fighting ability made them a particular favorite of Chinese emperors in the Han Dynasty?
P: Yeah yeah, that's the one. Did you know that the Western Shar Pei looks quite different than the traditional Eastern breed? And in fact, denizens of Southern China, Hong-Kong, and Macau call the Western breed "meat mouth" or "bone mouth" to differentiate the two?
M: Please don't talk to me or my large adult canine daughter Lucy ever again.
That for sure happened. Actually a lot of that came from the extensive research (Wikipedia and Wikipedia adjacent websites) that I do on these Doggy Blogs. I also learned this fact about shar peis:
The Shar Pei's loose skin and extremely prickly coat were originally developed to help the dogs fend off wild boar, as they were used to hunt...These enhanced traits made the Shar Pei difficult to grab and hold on to, and so that if a boar did manage to hold on, the Shar Pei would still have room to maneuver and bite back; when grabbed by any loose wrinkle, a Shar Pei can actually twist in their skin and face in their opponent's direction...they would twist in their skin to bite the assailant back.
That's amazing. Arguments about selective dog breeding aside (and there are many, many points to be made on that topic), developing excess neck and head skin to increase manuverability in an altercation is banana nuts crazy. It would be like if a boxer got really very obese, then had liposuction without any skin removal surgery in an attempt to accrue enough extra skin to be able to "twist in his skin" to counterpunch his opponent. It would be like fighting the drapes. Or a man draped in fleshy beach towels.
Well that's just too many weird words there, Sean.
In closing, one additional fact about Shar Peis that isn't going to rapidly devolve into analogies about morbidly obese and surgically naive boxers. Their tongues are blackish blue. Yes, like giraffes. This is the go to fact I give to passersby when they ask any question past "What kind of dog is that?" One last scenario—featuring a notably different passerby than the earlier example—before I let you go:
Passerby: So now that I've asked you what kind of dog that is, is there anything else you'd like to tell me about this incredible creature that I might not know?
Me: They have blackish blue tongues.
P: WHAT? THAT IS AMAZING.
M: I KNOW RIGHT. Apparently the Chinese believed that the fearsome hue of the tongue was enough to scare off evil spirits. Although I'm sure that that simple explanation has been watered down over the years and forced through the filter of cultural differences. What's ultimately more interesting is why a black-blue tongue would exist in the first place, genetically speaking of course. Although, why do tongues have to be pink? I guess the entire inside of the mouth is pink. Is it the high concentration of blood in the tissues of the head paired with the generally thinner/moister skin? Or maybe...
P: (walked away several minutes before)
Me to Lucy: Hmm. That genial old man must have been INFESTED with evil djinn magic. He left so early into that riveting conversation. Good work shooing him away, Luce.
I think we've achieved the perfect balance of lunacy and dog backstory in this entry! Good work everyone! All praise be to Lucy, First of Her Name, the Unironed, Queen of the Wrinkled and the Draped Men, Pupleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Leashes, and Mother of Drooling!
I am so sorry for that last one.