Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What Happened to the Akita?

I truly wonder about how this breed has changed so much over the years. It started as a medium sized hunting breed (quite similar to the other Nihon Ken), then morphed into a fighting breed, mixed with all sorts of western breeds, proclaimed a national treasure, and morphed back into looking more like a Nihon Ken (like the dog in the picture above).

Then for some reason it took a turn down a road that turned it into a hyper type breed, of a type that was never before seen in the breed. I hear people overseas get all romantic about the Akita, but I have to say that after owning all the Nihon Ken, in my opinion owning a modern Akita is much more like owning a western (non-native) breed. From a NIPPO member's perspective, and just a general fan of the Nihon Ken, I just scratch my head when I look at the Akita today. But hey, if that's your cup of tea...

As for me, if I prefer Akita of the type in this picture. I took it at the house of a gentleman who's been in the breed for decades, and seen it through its evolution. He was once an AKIHO judge, the head of a AKIHO branch, but gave up breeding them years ago after realizing he could not change the direction the breed was headed. He said he's left it to the younger generation of AKIHO to take the breed in the direction that they see fit. He was still in school during the early days of NIPPO, but had pictures of himself in uniform at some of the earliest shows (when Akita were still shown in NIPPO and AKIHO). He told me that there used to be a lot of very high quality Akita in Chiba prefecture because the fisherman would sail up the coast every year chasing their catch, and then end the season up north in Akita. They'd pick up pups as gifts for their families and bring them home to the fishing villages here. It was a status symbol to have a quality Akita. He also said the medium size breeds are the purest of the Nihon Ken (closer to the original native dogs) because they were hunting dogs deep in the mountains whereas the Akita was in the cities as a guard dog/fighting dog, and the Shiba was also brought to the cities fairly early on as a pet.

The geographic isolation of the medium sized breeds is why they are still today, fairly close to what you can see in the original pictures of the Nihon Ken, while the Akita and Shiba have veered away considerably (the Akita more so).

Anyway, now we've got a breed that is nothing like what it originally was, in form and function. It is a show breed now, no longer being bred or used for its original purposes (hunting/fighting/guard dog).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kenzo: 1 Year Old

It's hard to believe a year has passed already. Happy Birthday Kenzo (and Summer and Momo too, but I don't have pictures of them right now)!
I'm really happy with how this guy is turning out, and the terrific home and family that he's got.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Maruto Go Hokkai Komatsu: BIS

I'm really happy to see this little guy is doing well in show.

Everything evens out of course, since I heard yesterday that a different Hokkaido male I sent overseas may have an eye problem. Fingers crossed for him.

"1 day - 2 shows (Hungary)
Ch. Maruto Hokkai Komatsu our "superstar" Hokkaido made big successes!
1st show: Maru won Best of Breed + Best of Group
2nd show: Maru won Best of Breed and res. Best of Group
And a fantastic "happy end": final competition was the Champion BIS for all BOB winner Champion dogs from all breeds and Maru won BEST IN SHOW !!!
No words how proud and happy I'm, we have 2 BIS winner Hokkaidos already :-))) "

-Krisztina Illes (Maruto's owner)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Shikoku Pups

Koharu (Taka x Bisho)

 Akane (Taka x Bisho)

Seki (Koto x Hime)

Goji (Koto x Hime)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kotofusa x Tochimitsuhime: 74 Days

Time sure flies when you've got a bunch of puppies around. These guys are getting big, and I'm finally having to make the hard decisions about where each one goes.

 Here's Seki. Great color as always. She's just a tad bit reserved when compared to Goji.

Here's Goji. She's the most outgoing of the bunch, but can be quite a punk toward other pups.

And then Koma. He's the most mellow of the bunch, gets along with everyone. He's got his eye infection flaring up again. I'm having trouble sorting this one out, so I guess it's another trip to the vet for a look.

 I'm still accepting offers on these 2 litters. I will be looking for a home for Koma as soon as his eyes clear up. I have several requests for the females, but since homes tend to back out at the last minute quite often, I'm still open to other applicants.
I'll post about the other litter when I'm able.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Akita Inu Hozonkai

The Akita Inu Hozonkai (Akita Dog Preservation Society) usually referred to by its acronym AKIHO, is the premier breed registry and club for the Japanese Akita worldwide. Here is the link to their website.

AKIHO holds regional shows, and two national shows known as 'Honbuten'.

AKIHO's contact information:
Telephone: +81-186-42-2502
Fax: +81-186-49-0085

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Breeding Shikoku (and I guess breeding in general)

It's a pain. Really.
I walk/clean kennels/play/feed for 2 hours first thing in the morning, and 2 hours at night. 'First thing in the morning' can mean at 8or9 when I usually get up, or dawn. It depends on the dogs. 'At night' means that sometimes after a long day of work, I get home at 9-10pm, and the walking starts from there. In all things the dogs come first.
Good kibble costs a lot in Japan. I don't even want to add up how much I'm spending on dog food. I did add up all the costs involved with caring for my dogs for last year, versus the amount I made selling a litter of pups, and wonder of wonders, I lost money. Of course I told myself that I probably wouldn't have any more emergency dog hospitalizations, so I'd do better this year, but no, I've had a few of those this year as well, and lost one pup (Riri).

Having an average of 15 dogs around for the last several months I've realized that there's almost always going to be something going on with one of the dogs. I've got 4 Shikoku adults (3 females and 1 male), 1 Kishu adult, 2 adolescent Akita, plus 2 litters of Shikoku, and 1 Hokkaido pup that will be here till August.

None of the Shikoku females can be together, so that's some management issues right there, and neither can either of my males. Even trying to mix puppies from different litters together is troublesome, as is mixing in the Hokkaido, or even the Akitaa (they're just really big and clueless, but hey, life is good).

The Nihon Ken seem to have fairly sensitive stomachs. That's just an observation since I haven't owned large numbers of any other breeds. I have a whole medicine cabinet to nip stuff in the bud quickly, and keep the dogs free of giardia and GI issues. The adults are pretty much fine as long as you don't mess with their food, but managing the health of large amounts of pups is tough. I've had problems with every litter so far.

The first Baron x Hime litter had their stomachs go out of control for a while. I've learned that for NK pups, as soon as I see a loose stool, I go to work. The pup's food is controlled, and they get something for their stomach. It spirals out of control pretty quickly if you're not careful (and then you spend a lot of time at the vet). The Unta x Bishoume litter had their stomach issues too, but that was more due to a lax deworming schedule, and some giardia. The Koto x Hime litter had a pup die on day 2 of unknown causes, and Taka x Bisho had one stillborn (and I almost lost another of them).

Having litters of pups means losing lots of sleep. Having litters of pups means spending a lot of time cleaning up after them. It also means dealing with health issues that crop up, and worrying about genetic issues that may (and do) arise. In the Unta x Bisho litter there is one male with a dysplastic hip. One of the pups in the Koto x Hime litter may have luxating patella, but luckily the other pups seem to be fine, though they are all a bit loose (should firm up with muscle development). All the pups in the Taka x Bisho litter seem to have slightly oddly formed anuses, one part pops out just a little bit. We're not sure if that will be a problem or not, so it's being monitored. The male in the Koto x Hime litter is now secreting large amounts of green ooze out of his eyes since receiving his combination vaccination. We're not sure if it's related, or maybe his eyelashes are inverted (doesn't seem that way). It clears up with some cleaning and antibiotics, but came back today. This sucks a bit since I want to place him sooner rather than later, but now I want to sort this issue out first. The pups in the Taka x Bisho litter seemed small from birth, and seem to have a fairly sensitive GI tract. I've only finally gotten it under control in the past 2 weeks, and they're finally fattening up nicely.

Sakura is another of my Shikoku females. I've had problems breeding her. Yano-san bred her for me once, but no pups. I bred her at the next heat, and she aborted at 6 weeks. Her current heat she refused to be bred (and while forcibly breeding Shikoku is the norm, I wanted to see if she would breed with a male she liked and was walked with every day (Taka), but no.

I have limited space for dogs, so then I need to start making choices about which dogs to keep, which to place, and which ones to retire. I will be retiring Hime, since she'll be 7 this year, so I'd like to rehome her if I can. She'd do best with a family that has another male dog, or no dogs or cats. She's terrific in the house, doesn't destroy things, is toilet trained, walks nicely on leash, and is generally a great dog. Just don't try to break into her house unannounced or deliver mail to her post box. She doesn't like the post man.

Anyway, the point of my post is to give everyone that has never managed a hugely-multi-dog-household an idea of what it's like. Oh, and along with the multiple trips to the vet, there's all the socialization for puppies that needs to be done, which has me carting them off to the hardware store, my neighbor's houses etc etc
And then of course you also have to deal with finding GOOD homes for all of your dogs (pups and retirees). That's an experience in itself.

While there are a lot of people interested in the Shikoku's well being, the vast majority are not capable or (or willing to) own more than 2 or 3 dogs. It's pretty difficult to breed better dogs (health, temperament, type) with 2 or 3 dogs, since the odds that all (or any!) of your dogs will pan out is fairly low. I am blessed to have 4 very nice female pups in the two litters I just produced. I want to keep them all for different reasons. 4 out of 7 pups is not bad at all. But, keeping all 4 will  be an issue. And then, I assume that not all of them will end up being breeding material. But, if I don't keep all 4, I lose something with each of these females that I let go. One has the eyes I want to keep, one has the ears, another has the temperament, color, structure and so on and so on.

I don't have much time to edit this post and try to make it all have a point, but I just wanted to random dump this information out there for anyone with even an inkling of getting into breeding Shikoku.

Today I had an emergency trip to the vet first thing in the morning since Goji was puking out both ends and very listless. Again, same as Riri, dead sunken eyes, and very weak, and again, no diagnosis. I know what that looks like now, so straight into the car and off to get a shot and an IV. She looks like she's feeling a lot better now.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Been Busy Building Doors, Fighting Typhoons

 So my front door of my cabin used to look like this. Half sheet metal half wood, it was rotten, the handle was broken, it needed to be rebuilt at some point. There's so many projects with this house, necessity is the mother of getting things done. There was a typhoon coming and the door needed to be functional!

 We've got a deck in the front of the house now, more on that later, but here's the new door frame. We try to use recycled materials as much as possible, and by recycled, I mean we collect materials from the beach, the mountains, and garbage dumps. The door frame is made of driftwood.
James over at Hartwood found this beauty at the dump, and when I saw it last year I told him I wanted it for my future front door. Everyone thought it was hilarious that I wanted to use this for a door... but I'm a little nuts that way. 

Luckily my brother is a professional carpenter. We trade off in skills, I take him hunting, he helps me with the house. The door was not too complex. My friend Mark had collected a stack of 24millimeter plywood out of the dump at a job he was on, so we used one of those as the base, planed a stack of rotten 1x4's to a nice finish, and tacked them on top.

Removing years of silicone, grease, and rust off this porthole was a bit of a bitch, but somehow I finished it up and got a coat of surfacer on it. I ended up painting it at night between walking and feeding the dogs.

Again we used a couple 2x4's off the scrap heap, grooved and angled them, and wrapped the door with them. We cut the whole for the window as well, and you can see the driftwood piece for the top of the door frame standing beside the door. I found this one on the beach while surfing a few months ago.

 Here it is, the window bolted in, frame up, everything stained. The handle I made out of hot water piping. It was remarkably cheap, and looks very industrial which matches up well with the porthole. All in all this took around 3 days of work since we had to remove the old door, frame, and wall, but it was absolutely worth it. The typhoon rolled around and huffed and puffed, but this door is solid as. It's a heavy door, and probably one of the most beautiful pieces of work that my brother and I have crafted yet.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai

The Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai (official name is 'Tennenkinenbutsu Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai' aka DOKENPO) is the premier registry for the Hokkaido breed. They organize shows, hunting ability tests, and a registry. This registry is recognized by the Japan Kennel Club, so you can switch an HKH pedigree for a JKC pedigree quite easily. Here is their website
Here's their telephone and fax number: 011-261-9910
Their office is in Sapporo city, Hokkaido. I must say this is probably the best designed site out of the Nihon Ken breed club sites.

There is also a site run by a good friend of mine, Mr.Sato, that helps HKH members find homes for their pups. A link to the site can be found on the right hand side of the HKH website.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Unta x Bishoume: 10 Months

The first litter born at my kennel was from a breeding put together by Mr.Yano of Izumo Yano Sou. They were out of Unta and Bishoume

There were four pups in the litter, 3 males, and 1 female. 1 male stayed in Japan in a pet home, the female went to Italy, and the two males to the US. Of the 3 pups that went overseas, the red sesame male turned out to be cryptorchid (1 descended testicle) even though at 2 months both could be felt in the scrotum. This male also looks to have mild dysplasia in 1 hip.

This is the red sesame male 'Kurama'

And an update from his owner:
"So, as promised, here is the update to Kurama's surgery. The 1st 2 pictures are his prelim x-rays as a refresher at 8 months of age (he was born 8/31/2013). Three weeks later after consultation and a lot of discussion with my spouse, he underwent the Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO). Remember that the prognosis and efficacy of such a surgery is at its highest when the dog is between 5-11 months old. You can see the after pictures immediately following the pre-op x-rays. Personally I don't think they did a great job shooting the post-op x-rays. However, time will be my judge whether I made the right decision or not. But I am encouraged that the mere posting of my dog's x-rays sparked a necessary discussion about the breed health and touched a bit on dog ownership."

Here is the black sesame male 'Kiyoshi'
His health checks will be done at some point in the near future. He has both his testicles.

And from his owner:
"Kiyoshi is very well behaved, sleeps until noon normally. Very calm demeanor, has a bit of a stubborn streak.  Extremely high prey drive and great nose.  He has his first barn hunt end of this month.  We're also training for SAR, he has potential although it will take years of training and fine tuning, I'm hopeful that he'll one day be the first SAR shikoku in the US. (I've always wanted to do it and it just so happens Kiyoshi has the drive to make it happen). He plays good with the ladies and has learned to take 'no' for an answer, although he still plays really rough. He's not at all shy towards people, very outgoing and will walk up to anyone for attention.  He has the BEST personality and you couldnt have found a more perfect match. He'll get his therapy dog certification in September. He's everything we could have hoped for and then some."

Here is the pup that stayed in Japan 'Jaq'
Jaq's got both his testicles as well.
He is loved by his owners, and seems to be doing very well despite not being the strongest or largest pup of the bunch. Hopefully I'll be able to see him soon.

Lastly, there is 'Kazumi', the black sesame female that went to Italy

She's got a terrific home and terrific owners (just like all the pups out of this litter!). Her health checks are pending, At the moment she's quite high in the rear (like her dam), but I'm hoping she'll even out a bit as she matures. She's got a beautiful face (like her dam). I had the chance to see her once while I was in Italy, and was happy to see that she remembered me.

Breeding Shikoku is fraught with risk due to the complete lack of testing on the breed here in Japan. I'll be blogging more about this soon. For now, fingers crossed that the health checks on these other pups come back with positive results!

Game Camera

So this is what happens when the game camera is not quite set in the right spot. I think the tree was a bit far from the game trail.

 The path I set it up in is really wide, and the tree was a bit far from where everything passes I guess. I got a lot of shots like the one below.