Monday, July 31, 2017

Picky Eater Shikoku

I hear it a lot, 'My Shikoku is a picky eater and I can't get any weight on him/her!' I've experienced this and other digestive issues in the Japanese breeds, so I'm going to share how I deal with it. So far the results have been 100 percent management success.


So what are you feeding your dog? I guess we've got the kibble feeders, cooked food feeders, and the raw food feeders. I find that most of the time, picky eaters will eat more readily eat cooked or raw food. At least at first. But, a lot of dogs will get bored of eating the same thing every day for every meal.

Since I have a lot of dogs, and a lot of dogs that I kennel for varying lengths of time, I feed my dogs a grain free salmon/sweet potato kibble. Mixed with this I will throw in varying meat topping, and they get cooked boar bones on occasion as well. When I boil the meat scraps and bones for the dogs after butchering a boar, I keep the soup. This soup is gold for dogs that temporarily lose their appetite, or to mix with rice when dogs are not feeling well.

My dogs are fed twice a day, individually, a set amount which varies by season. Dogs don't need to eat quite as much in the summer. Whatever they don't eat in 15 minutes is put away. The kibble is mixed with a bit of topping, and some warm water. Not all the dogs need topping or water, some will eat straight up dry kibble from the bag, but the majority will not do that unless they are starving. So, I could keep trying to force different types of dry dry dry food down them till they are skin and bones, or I can create a system that helps them maintain proper weight. This is especially important for working/show dogs if you're trying to keep them in optimum condition.

If a dog starts leaving food a few meals in a row, I will reduce the amount by a third. If their stool is looking a bit soft, I'll reduce by half. If they have diarrhea they skip a meal. This happens more often during the summer months. Dogs lose their appetite, get a bit more lethargic, and are more prone to digestive upsets.

One important thing to remember when dealing with dogs with appetite loss or upset stomachs is to not go switching their food suddenly. This is generally a bad idea unless you like dealing with poo explosion. Any change in diet or food should be in small amounts and gradual.

I believe there is a train of thought that kibble and cooked food digest at different rates so should not be fed together, but I have not found that to be the case. I read a good study on it somewhere that showed that when fed together they were digested at the same rate. Anyway, I mix. Blocks of meat, rice, pumpkin, these are all things that make it into the mix. Just be careful with keeping the meat you feed low fat. Anything too fatty or oily will often give a dog diarrhea.

And just to throw this in, get your dog's stool checked by your vet every once in a while. Parasites and bacteria can cause loss of appetite and poor stools. Dogs that have a habit of eating random things may also have a blockage in their digestive system (where's mom's other red sock?). Maybe your dogs eating issues have a more serious cause? If you get a new dog or pup, the first thing to do is to get their stool checked. Always. Some parasitic issues can cause permanent damage to the digestive tract.

Where do your dogs eat? Shikoku tend to be pretty reactive to their environment, everything is interesting. So, if you want your dog to relax and eat, set a routine. Mine is that after going for our twice daily walk, everyone goes into their kennels/crates, then it's time to eat. Once they're done eating, the rest of the day begins.

So to sum up my system...
1. Feed them quality food that they will eat (just don't suddenly add new things to their diet)
2. Feed them in a quiet, safe place
3. Always keep an eye (and your vet's eye) on your dog's stool
4. Add toppings - meat, fish, rice, pumpkin (just no fatty stuff, and make sure you check before adding any other exotic stuff) and warm water
5. Skipping meals every now and again is good for dogs. It can help their digestive systems catch a break, and help them regain their appetite.

Lastly, dog's that are burning calories (ie getting enough exercise!) will have more of an appetite, and of course will be happier. Get out for walks/runs/play with your dogs as much as possible!





Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sesame in the Shiba

Sesame is an officially recognized color in the breed, but it's not without it's controversy. Some say it wasn't originally in the breed (at least not the type of sesame we have today), and some say the current coloration was created by adding Shikoku to the mix. Who knows these things.

All that is certain is that there is sesame in the breed, but generally just in one line that originally comes from Shikoku.

It's a very difficult color to select for in the Shiba, so there's plenty of people that have purchased a sesame Shiba pup only to have it turn out like this.





We were sure that one was going to be a sesame...
So why am I blogging this? Rare color always seems to equal a large amount of requests. So here's the answer. The odds of you getting a sesame pup is low. It will take time. And then, it's a crapshoot whether it will end up being a proper sesame (with even coloration over it's entire body).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Available Shiba Puppies

A friend has some Shiba puppies available for sale.
DOB June 16th, white male, white female, and 2 red females.
Anyone interested is welcome to contact me at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com so we can discuss details.







Saturday, July 8, 2017

Heats

This should be interesting. My 3 Shikoku females and 1 Kishu female all came into heat this week. 3 of the girls started on the same day. I refuse to have 4 litters born at the same time!

In other news, my brother just moved in with me the other day. Getting some help around here (and another surfing buddy) will be fun! He had his girls down here with him over the weekend, so bbq and beach was on. The girls got to surf and had heaps of fun. At least it looked that way to me.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)がシェアした投稿 -
Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)がシェアした投稿 -

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Daruma Stove

I use a type of 'Daruma Stove' in the cabin. And by type, I mean the cheapest one available. The daruma stove was developed and used widely in Japan from the early 1900's and was originally designed to burn coal, though you can burn just about anything in them. They've been used for heating everything from houses to trains.

When I started renovating the cabin I was cash strapped and needed heating for the second winter. I moved in at the end of winter, so just gutted through the first one. With cracks to let everything from snakes to the cold directly into the house, it was an icebox. Anyway, come November it was time for quick thinking, and instead of spending a huge amount of money buying a traditional cast iron fireplace, I picked up a cheap daruma stove at the hardware shop for around 50 bucks. It has worked beautifully.

I originally just used brick on the wall around it, and laid sand out in a tray under it as fireproofing, but errant puppies were wont to make their way into the sand to do their business (yes, Trey, they must be cats). Tired of having to sort that out, I've just rebuilt the area, and did the end of season chimney clean.



The stove's I use are made of extremely thin metal, so do burn out after a few seasons of use. So far I had the top of one rust out a bit after 2 seasons, but I think that was because I always had a kettle of water sitting on top of it. The first one is now serving as a flowerpot outside, and number 2 is still in use (and I've been here for 4 years 4 months now).
Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)がシェアした投稿 -

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Can You Call This Breeder For Me?



So as you would imagine, I get this request a lot. Someone overseas sees a picture of a dog they like online, grabs the name of the breeder, and then asks if I can track them down. A variation of this is people that want to hire me to go to a dog show with them and hit up the breeders there for dogs to import.

I understand what's going on. If you could talk to them yourself, you would (many try... hello google translate). Why do I generally say no to requests like this? I wanted it down in writing, so here goes.

I do help people import/export dogs. I even set up a dedicated website and business for it because it morphed into something that the tax office required me to register www.japandogexport.com I'm a translator, it's one of the many things I do so it would seem I'd be happy to accept more work, right?

Well dogs to me are something else. They are not a money making venture. I've always felt it's important to keep it this way because I don't like what I've seen happen when selling dogs is the way a person makes a living. Dogs are living creatures, no two are the same, and it's not like selling TVs where you have them all sitting on a shelf. There's a much more personal exchange going on between a breeder and potential owner, and each exchange is a custom fit, trying to match up the right dog with the right people. I started sending Nihon Ken overseas to help with their preservation and promotion, and to help people that I felt really appreciated the breeds to find the best possible pup for them. If anything I'm doing doesn't quite add up to this initial goal, I'm not really keen to get involved. When dogs are how you make a living, I feel that it's very easy for money to invade your decision making process. When you're thinking about the bottom line, even if it's only a slight consideration, it can affect the studs you use, the breedings you choose to do, the dogs you keep, the shows you go to, the people you hang out with. The list is endless really.

So for starters, this is the reason I'm not sending oodles of other breeds all over the world. I've had requests for poodles, Japanese spitz, chihuahuas, corgis etc.
Once I start getting into that, this is just a business, I am just a broker. It doesn't have anything to do with preserving the Nihon Ken.

I also generally don't cold call breeders for people. Why not? Because no matter how the conversation or relationship goes with that breeder, to them I am a broker. I'm sure it's important all over the world, but especially here in Japan in the world of dogs, personal relationships and introductions are extremely important. If you've bred dogs, you know how difficult it is to produce quality dogs, and are only going to give them up to the right people. If I just call a breeder out of the blue, they don't know me from Jack Sprat. I usually only work with breeders that I've met personally through some event, or are introduced to by a mutual friend. It's not just being able to get a better quality dog, there is a lot more information that you'd give a person that you're friendly with as opposed to a broker that you only have a business relationship with. Why would you tell someone that is just a dollar sign about how their might be a health issue in your line, or that you didn't like the temperament of a dog you bred in this or that pedigree. I want to have the best, deepest, and most positive relationship I can with everyone I work with. Doesn't mean I always do, but that's what I'm aiming for.

This all translates into why I don't walk around dogs shows translating for people trying to buy dogs. Because then to everyone that doesn't know me at the show, I will again forever be just a broker. I am a dollar sign outsider as opposed to being an insider.

The Nihon Ken clubs here in Japan are all about amateurism in a sort of Olympic manner. Yes, there are people who make a living breeding Akita and Shiba, but for the most part we're a bunch of amateur dog fanciers having fun preserving/working/showing our dogs. The clubs are non-profits, and try to keep that amateur vibe going. I like it that way as I am not a fan of shows that feel like a big garage sale.

If you want me to translate for you and a breeder in Japan, I'm happy to do it if you've already spoken to them, or tried to speak to them. You've already gotten the ball rolling, and maybe just need some help with the language barrier and export procedures. You're also taking responsibility for importing a dog from this breeder (health/temperament/ethics etc etc). If you just ask me to look for a pup, because there's a limited number of kennels I work with, it usually takes some time.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shikoku Book Part 7

The following chapters go into how to raise puppies and care for adult dogs.