I don't normally think of Chows as being black; my experience has mostly been with red ones like Harlan. In fact, the only black Chow I've ever had any prolonged dealings with was a much-less-than-friendly neighborhood bully who lived downstairs from me many years ago. Shasta, probably a Chow/Border Collie or Shepherd mix of some type, falls about as far from that as a dog can.
When we first met, I wasn't sure what to make of her. She was frightened and uncertain, and wrinkled her nose oddly when she sniffed my hand (I later realized that her nose just does that). I had to pick Shasta up and carry her outside because she was so afraid; but after getting the feel of grass under her feet, she did a complete turn-around. Inquisitive, adventurous and affectionate - a far cry from the shivering, cowering bundle of fur in her kennel.
Shasta's a girl who knows just what she wants, too. When I had to run out to my car to look for some kitten-feeding supplies, she vaulted up into the car, hopped over to the passenger seat, and curled up in anticipation of a road-trip adventure. And when it was time to go back to her kennel, she sprawled on the floor in protest. I picked her up, and she wrapped her front paws around my neck, licking my cheek imploringly. She hammed her way dramatically all the way to her door, where she calmly hopped down for a drink of water. I half expected her to take a bow.
UPDATE: Shasta got to take that road-trip today when she was reunited with her owner. We're so very glad that she found her way back home!