Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hunting Season 2013: Day 7

It's hunting season, but this year I've just been far too busy to get out as much as I'd like. We're eating meat faster than I can fill up the freezer! After getting back from Poland, I had one day to get some work in, then had some guests from Italy arrive. They stayed next door for a few days, during which we got some sightseeing and some dogseeing in. Since they love the Shikoku, we visited Nidai Iwahori Sou, and Futomi Sou. Of course they got to see my dogs as well, and I had some of my Kai buddies over, Tenro Kensha and Gotenyama Kensha, for a bit of hunting and conversation.

We hunted two Kai males, San and Kuma, for a few hours. They did get on a boar at one point, and bayed it for a few seconds, but were unable to hold it. It ran, and they lost it after 100 meters. They just need more practice in mountains with more boar. You could see their energy level rise after this experience though, as they began connecting smells with prey. They started being more thorough with their search as well.

For round 2 we brought Baron out for an hour and a half. As soon as we got into the mountain, he climbed an extremely steep ridge on our left, and dropped over the other side. It was not somewhere for the inexperienced to climb, so I went after him myself. This ended up turning into a 1 hour solo jaunt (my apologies to everyone who was left behind, but this is how hunting goes). On the other side of the ridge, there was a large boar, but it swam across the stream below, and Baron didn't know where he wanted to cross from. Short story, the boar got away. Baron then began moving further back into the mountain on another track, but that brought up nothing. We were around 30 minutes in, so once he got back I decided to descend toward the waiting hunting party. I started seeing fresh boar sign, so picked a spot to head down, and 50 meters later Baron was on a boar. He bayed, it charged, they tustled, Baron came out, took a look at me, and went back in. The boar came back after him, and stopped his charge just past a tree. He was 10 meters away from me, with half his head visible to me, so I lined up my shot and took it. Then the boar disappeared. Literally. I expected to see it roll, or run, but nothing. So, we looked for a bit, then headed back to where everyone was waiting.

On the way back we dropped by Nidai Iwahori Sou to look at the dogs.

Kotofusa Go

Then it was back to my house for some Inoshishi-nabe left over from the night before (the Italians and I had dinner with Mr.Iwahori and his son). Some drinks, and a lot of interesting conversation about dogs.

These are the two pups that are now in Italy. Kazumi Go (from my litter), and Fuuunryu Go from Yuda Hakushin Sou.

So it wasn't anything close to a full day, but I guess we're still sitting on 4 boar for 7 outings.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Akira Yano: The Giant Among Us

Choushunme Go Izumo Yano Sou

This morning Mr.Akira Yano, a giant in NIPPO and the Shikoku Ken breed, passed away after a long fight with cancer. This man's line of Shikoku has had an indelible impact on the breed for the past few decades. I don't know of anyone who has shown and bred as many NIPPO National BOB & BIS Shikoku. It is hard to find a Shikoku pedigree today that does not include at least some of his bloodline. His legacy will live on in the breed, and his name will be remembered.

I spoke with him 2 days ago. I received a call from him, and as always we discussed the Shikoku. He asked how the females he had sent me were doing, about my last litter, and about another pup he had just sent over. He sounded weaker than usual, but I had gotten used to hearing the changes in his voice depending on whether he was in hospital, or doing better at home. Yesterday, after a day in the mountains, I turned on my phone to realize I had missed a call from him. I have grown used to the pleasant surprise of seeing his name come up as my phone rang, and it saddens me to realize that we have spoken for the last time. 

Rest in peace Mr.Yano. You were a giant among us. As one of the new generation of NIPPO members, I will aspire to do even half as much for the Nihon Ken, as you have.

All of us are only on this earth for a limited visit. I'm thankful for everyone I have had the honor of meeting through the Nihon Ken, I'm thankful for all of you. Tonight, I toast Mr.Yano and his legacy.

Ungaku Go Izumo Yano Sou

Daigaku Go Izumo Yano Sou

Gakushoume Go Izumo Yano Sou

Mr.Yano in his younger years, with some of the dogs from his line.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wandering Warsaw

I had the pleasure of visiting some friends in Poland. Thanks to them I had a great time, really getting to enjoy the country, the food, and the alcohol! I loved old Warsaw. The fact that I got to run into beautiful women all along the trip from Tokyo, to Moscow, to Warsaw, just made the trip that much better.
I've decided to start snapping Instagram videos when I travel. I like the short snippet shots that are born.

Wandering the streets of old Warsaw...

At one point we went to a supermarket to buy dog food...

I took an Akita, Kishu, and a Japanese Terrier on this trip. They've all gone to great homes, and I look forward to seeing how they all mature. They were all special (and beautiful!) dogs, and I hope they do well.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hunting Season 2013: Day 6

Day 6 began as a thought at around noon. I had finished up work quickly, so thought to hit the mountains for a few hours before another appointment in the evening. I quickly put together the gear, and hit the road with Baron at around 12:30. It was a beautiful day, but cool, and we got to our spot close to 13:30. I had decided to hunt tower mountain from the spot where the boar herd had run a few days before.

10 minutes in and I could see my hunch had been right. Baron was crisscrossing the entire area, picking up scents that were leading to the low palms. Immediately I heard the bay start, and keep going, and going, and going. He wasn't more than 15 meters in the palms, but it's damn dangerous to crawl in there after a boar, and I couldn't get close. He was holding it there for around 10 minutes while I tried to go in from every direction on the compass.

Finally, as if to break the stalemate, I heard Baron close, a short scuffle, and the boar flew out right at me. I popped off 1 shot that missed at around 3 meters, and then lined up the second shot as the boar flew past me, and my gun jammed. Again. I also thought I was filming, but apparently I also do not know how to push two buttons on a GoPro. The boar flew past, Baron in tow, and he went after it for a good 600 meters, stopping every now and again. It was a 40-50kg class boar.

I contemplated giving chase, but there wasn't really much point with the boar moving like that. Baron came back after around 20 minutes, and we moved on. We covered a couple hundred meters, hunting likely areas in a bit of ridge heading back toward deer mountain. At just before 15:00 I heard Baron's bark. He bayed for a bit, as I closed the 100 meters to him. As I reached peaked over the ridge, I saw a charge, and Baron backed up to come get me. This time I had remembered to push the record button (even if I did have to check to make sure).

The encounter lasted around 4 minutes. Baron comes to get me in the beginning of the video, and we go after the boar. I climb the ridge, and wait till Baron begins baying again before going over it. I move carefully to get an angle, the boar sees me, but is still figuring out what to do with the annoying white dog on the high ground, I let Baron know I'm about to shoot with my 'yoshi yoshi yoshi', and take the shot. The boar rolls, Baron holds it, and the GoPro runs out of memory. 

She was a 50kg sow, with excellent meat. I hung her for a day, and then spent several hours butchering her till around 4am. It was a quick and rewarding hunting trip, even if I did have to carry/drag the boar through a marsh for 500 meters (1 hour) to get to the truck.

Day 6, and we're at 4 boar.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shiba Male Puppy

I have a Shiba male available. He's a very nice pup, 2 months old. His sire is a nice show dog that took 9th place at the NIPPO National this year.
The pup has an excellent temperament. He's friendly, very smart, and I have already crate trained him. His one slight fault is that the red on his left front leg is not perfectly gradiated at the moment. This may change as he grows.

Just before 2 months.

Now at 2 and a half months.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Available Adult Akita Male

DOB 2012/2/8 Name: Tougyoku Sire: Daizen Dam: Yuuki

His owner is retiring from show, so this nice young male is available. Send me a message if you are interested. I hear he's got a nice even temperament.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hunting Season 2013: Day 5

Went out with my brother, and just Baron. There's been a few situations where Hime has gotten in the way, especially on larger boar. We had a late start, as usual, getting to the mountains around 11:30.

I decided to hunt 'tower mountain' since we hadn't been in the area yet this season. Tower mountain is back beyond 'deer mountain' and it's the area deer run to when chased by the dogs. The mountain is close to a perfect circle with its base ridges surrounded by tiered fields, summer houses on the ocean side, and a marshy gully on the other.

This area is full of boar, evidenced by the numerous box traps in the area. We walked by three in the gully walking toward the ridge we would climb. 5 minutes in, Baron moved forward and to the right. He swung out to the 2nd closest ridge moving downhill, and I assumed the boar was nested up toward the bottom of the ridge, so us humans started cutting across the face of the ridge toward him. Halfway there, Baron doubled back toward us, meeting up with, and then passing us. He moved to our left around 10 meters, and out popped a medium sized boar. Baron dodged the charge, and in that moment the boar wheeled by, flying in the direction that Baron had just come back from. The boar, with Baron in pursuit, reached the bottom of the ridge, and crossed the farming road and stream.

Baron came back at that point. He's not one to cross roads too often. Moving on around the mountain, there was obviously plenty of fresh scent in the area. Another 30 minutes on, we reached a point just above the highest tiered field. There are low lying palms planted here, and the boar love sleeping in them as it's practically impossible for anyone to get in there. Baron went in, I heard the boar get up and start grunting warnings. Baron came flying out to me (he still hadn't barked at all today), and I had to encourage him back in. The boar was grunting the whole time, not willing to come out. But of course Baron is the perfect dog for this sort of engagement. He's doesn't push the boar, so they don't feel very threatened, in fact they want to drive him off.

So Baron went in after I practically walked in there with him, and the boar came after him, and practically ran into me. I was loaded this time, with two shots in the M3. The boar was coming straight at me, and I lined up the shot in that split second, but the boar wheeled to the right, and I fired one shot that missed or grazed the boar. I lined up the second, and my gun jammed with the boar passing within 3 meters of me. The boar went back in the palms, and grunted for a while. By the time Baron went back in there after him, he was running. We got on his track, and we went after him for around 600 meters before losing him. Since we were low on time, we moved back toward the truck, running into at least one boar, a runner.

200 meters above the truck, in the first ridge we didn't hunt when entering the mountain, Baron started baying for the first time that day. I moved in, getting 20 meters above him, but he was not putting nearly enough pressure on the 30kg boar that I could see playing cat and mouse with him. I just needed him to close distance a little more to hold the boar, but as it was I didn't have an angle. Baron was being extremely cautious for being on such a small boar. I had told my brother to wait on the ridge above us. As Baron moved back toward me, the boar made his get away, down the gully and into the next ridge. Baron started moving away from the boar, and tried to pass me, so I grabbed his collar and threw him back on track. Baron moved forward, but was again being very tentative, peeking around the corner, but not daring to move in.

I finally had to move ahead of him, just in time to hear him moving to the top of the ridge and moving toward my brother. At this point Baron picked up speed and went after it, wheeling around the other side of the ridge, to the gully, and started a close quarter bay. I got to within 50 meters before the boar moved off at speed with Baron in tow. They ran toward another low palm area, with Baron returning before he got there. We were out of time, so called it a day.

Meeting up with my brother, he had seen a large female with three piglets in tow moving slowly below him, and then one medium sized boar with Baron in tow. I guess that was why Baron was being so careful, he knew there were more boar around. But all in all, he had a very off day. It seemed that perhaps he wasn't feeling too well.

Ah, when Baron was on the second boar, I gave the GoPro to my brother with simple instructions on how to take video (it involves pushing two buttons). Unfortunately, he managed to screw that up, haha. He managed to take time lapse photos instead. These shots courtesy of the little brother.

So day 5, still 3 boars.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hunting Season 2013: Day 4

A busy week passed before I was able to get back out into the mountains, and since it was a Sunday one of my hunting buddies from the week before wanted to come with. We started at around 11am, and we had barely walked into the ravine that we were going to start our hunt from when Baron moved 50 meters ahead and started baying a boar low on the right slope. I sent my buddy in after him, and I climbed to get above, but almost immediately the bay turned into a chase, and Hime and Baron were off after the boar.

They ran it in a circular pattern, down into a marshy area, and over the mountain road. Baron stopped there and came back, but Hime stuck near the road. I wasn't sure what was going on since Hime and I don't have the same relationship that Baron and I have. I figured it would be a good idea to go see what she was up to. Maybe she was on a boar? As I got to around 150 meters, I heard a strange barking sort of a noise. I thought maybe Hime was on a boar, so charged in her direction. At the top of the ridge looking down on the marsh I heard voices. So there were people there. As I climbed down, they called up to me, a little upset about the dogs. I saw they had a Shiba with them off leash. So that's where the strange barking came from.

Baron will leave other people and dogs alone when we're hunting, but Hime I've seen will actually start fights on occasion. The only people in Japan who can legally have their dogs off lead are hunters (and some other working dogs). Once these people saw I was a hunter, they kind of shut up. They were digging up mountain potatoes (probably poaching, as they are rare and expensive). I leashed up the dogs, and headed back into the mountain where we finally met up with my buddy.

From there we walked to deer mountain, and on a hunch he said he'd go to the 'side exit' of the mountain, and the dogs and I would roll in the front door. I was fine with this. I walk faster and quieter alone anyways. I climbed up the ridge to the top, and immediately saw a deer take off. Baron yodeled and chased for around 50 meters and came back. I was happy to see that he has learned that deer are a bore to chase... until we walked another 50 meters and ran into a small herd of them running. That set the dogs off, and they both ran for a good distance. Baron close to 1km, and Hime around 300 meters.

I've learned to just wait stuff like this out, as Baron will come back fairly quickly, though tired. I moved in the direction of the 'side exit' as the plan had been to try to wheel any prey in that direction. If I didn't get it, maybe they'd run through my buddy's ambush. As Baron got back, we walked along the side of the ridge through some pines and undergrowth. Around 200 meters from the 'side exit', suddenly 2 large boar popped up to my right. Baron was immediately after the large one, probably around 80kg, while a second boar around 50kg was a little late to the party and started running behind Baron. So boar, Baron, and boar. It was a slightly worrying sight to see them take off like that, but they were running straight for my buddy's ambush! Seconds later I heard the gunshots ring out. Baron stopped for a little bit, then started moving forward and baying.

I wasn't sure what had happened, but decided to get to Baron. I to a ridge, with only 60 meters and a ravine between us. Baron was baying, but not long enough. They began moving away. I contemplated which direction to go. It's always a tough decision to climb down. It just means you'll have to climb up the other side. It's often faster and takes less energy to go around. This time however, I remembered the week before in 'hell valley' and decided to go straight to him. As I moved down, I almost stepped on top of my buddy. He'd been down lower trying to get to Baron as well. We talked for a bit, he had gotten a boar. I asked which one, the big one or the medium sized one. He answered that it was a baby.

Apparently 3 small boar were running in front of the other two boar. My friend took out the lead piglet, missed the second, and as he fired his last shot, saw the large female last in line, with Baron behind. Since it was a small boar, I asked if he could handle it alone, which he agreed to. I told him Hime was still around somewhere, probably chewing on his boar, and I took off after Baron. The only reason I actually went after him on a long distance run was because I saw the boar were running a route directly behind lots of houses. When I say directly behind, I mean 10 meters away from people's backyards at some points. I never want there to be any trouble involving my dogs, so off I went. Of course after running through a few ridges and some gardens, I caught up to Baron who was already on his way back to me.

We walked back toward my buddy and Hime, and just as we got below them, started to climb up to the path we had been on. Halfway up, I nearly stepped on the 50kg boar. It bolted from its hiding place and off to the right. Baron came running toward the noise, saw me, and looked very confused. He heard and smelt boar, but there I was. Those boar are interesting critters. Sometimes they are extremely timid, and then sometimes they have nerves of steel. That boar had been sitting there while we talked, dragged a boar uphill, all for a good 20 minutes or so.

Anyway, we gutted the boar, put it in a stream, and headed out to try to get another. In the last waning minutes before sunset, Baron was on a boar and baying, but unfortunately time was not on our side, and Baron gave up quite quickly as well. We had one 20kg female boar for our trouble, and she was excellent eating.

So, 4 days out with the dogs, and 3 boar in the freezer.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hunting Season 2013: Day 3

I went out with a couple of hunting buddies, so 3 guns, Baron, and Hime. They set ambushes on game trails, and the dogs and I went in. In 5 minutes Baron had climbed a the ridge on the left and was baying a boar on the other side in a bamboo thicket. Below was the valley I call 'jigokudani' (hell valley). It's a ravine between two ridges filled with bamboo and swamp, almost impassable for humans, and the boar sleep on either side of the ravine. I've had to go in there before to get to Baron and boar.

As I got just above Baron and the boar he had bayed up, I realized he had the low ground, which meant I was 10 meters above the sandwiched boar. I could see the bamboo shaking and snapping, but couldn't get a clear look at the boar. Mind you I'd been out duck hunting the day before with a friend (we got 2 each), and then randomly drove the 100km to Tokyo at night to attend a friend's bar's 1 year anniversary. Getting home at around 3am, and heading out to hunt in the morn is not the first thing on one's mind.

Anyway, the boar realized I was there before I could line up a shot, and he charged down at Baron. At this point I lost sight of both of them in the bamboo, and Baron began baying again 200m away. I couldn't go through the blasted valley, so I went around. Baron held the bay for the 20 minutes it took to get to him, but he gave up just before I got to him.

We pushed through the rest of the mountain till we got to the ambushers. They had heard Baron, but there was a bit of distance between them. Beyond was 'deer mountain', and Baron and Hime both headed in while we were discussing our next move. Baron got on some deer, came back, and then went after something else, and Hime was with me. At that point Hime bolted 20meters to the right, and out popped a deer. She was off after him for a while. The deer had been sleeping directly above one of my buddies' ambush spot.

Once the dogs had returned, we started to head back toward the truck, and decided to walk together. It's funner that way. A few hundred meters in, Baron moved forward with Hime in tow. Hime came back, and one of my friends started talking to her and feeding her. I told him to shut up, haha. When Baron moves off like that, there are boar nearby. Within seconds, we heard the telltale squeal of a boar caught by Baron. I flew through the 100 meters in record time, and Hime flew ahead of me to help catch. Baron had the front, Hime the back, and we had a small boar.

Here are the ducks. I don't have a pic of the boar since I can't seem to get it off of my friend's instagram. At this point I still hadn't fired a single shot at a boar this season. At this point.

So 2013, 3 days out with the dogs =  2 boar.

Friday, December 6, 2013


If you are importing (or have imported!) a dog from Japan, heartworm is something you need to be aware of. It is widespread in Japan, and unfortunately many (most?) NIPPO members do not give their dogs preventative medication. I've heard of one dog that was imported to the US as a pup that was diagnosed with heartworm a year later, and recently an adult female that I sent to the US was also diagnosed with heartworm. This female was being given medication this year, but I'm not sure if it was continuous from when she was a pup.

Moral of the story? If you import from Japan, discuss with your vet about getting your dogs on heartworm medication. Even if the dogs were being given meds (like for instance the pups that were born at my kennel), they could get infected after receiving their monthly dose. Be aware, and beware the worm!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Game Cam 2013 Nov/Dec

I set up the game cam on the 15th of November next to a rub. This is a tree that is frequented by every boar in the area. In 2 weeks I got 267 photos! It's telling that pretty much all of them were taken at night. Rather than any special prowess that Baron and I have, I think it's the sheer numbers of S. scrofa leucomystax in this area that we hunt, that leads to our success. Why are the numbers high? Because no one else can hunt here, it's too close to houses, livestock, pets, and hikers. This is the main reason I've spent years of time and energy to raise him as a 'safe' hunting dog.

They're not camera shy either


They rub the rub

NIPPO Grand National 2013

So after hunting for the morning of the 15th, I came home, walked and fed the dogs, and packed my brother's van for the 8 hour drive down to Osaka for the NIPPO national. It's just over 600km, and since I had to drive through some major metropolitan areas (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka) to get to the venue, as usual I left after dark.

The 16th this year was the Shiba day, and the 17th for the other Nihon Ken breeds (plus the final judging for best in show etc). I arrived in the morning, tired after a long drive sprinkled with a few naps. I had Kotofusa with me, a 4 year old red sesame Shikoku male that I would be showing in the 'seiken osu' (adult male) ring. This ring is probably the most exciting ring at the national. Kotofusa and I had been working for the past month to get to know each other, and came to Osaka on a high note after taking his sixth 'honbusho' (best in show) at the NIPPO All Kanto regional. This makes him a 'kansei ken' or finished dog. He can no longer be shown at regionals.

Kotofusa took 3rd in class as a 'waka' in his first trip to the nationals, and took 2nd the next year in the 'so ken' class. Last year he tired in the afternoon and dropped to a 5th place finish in the 'sei ken' class. Many people approached me to tell me that we would do well, that he was a dog capable of placing in the top 3 at the show. Indeed, he's a beautiful dog, but I was a novice handler showing a dog that he had only just started building a relationship with.

I had a great time looking at all the Shiba entrants on the 16th, as even though I'm not that fond of the breed, I'm trying to learn more about the standard. In the afternoon, I noticed other Shikoku owners arriving and setting up camp around the venue. The Shiba BOB was entry number 613, Meinan no Hana Go. Her owner's blog can be found here I saw her go up against one more female, and two males for BOB, and it was quite obvious that while imperfect, she had a sparkle to her that the other dogs lacked. She stacked beautifully as well.

As all the Shiba left once the BOB was announced, I spent the rest of the afternoon with a group of Shikoku owners from Shikoku island. I had planned to stay at a hotel nearby, but apparently it's tradition to sleep at the venue with your dogs. Of course, that's what I ended up doing as well. We drank and ate into the night, talking dogs and history, and then slept for a few cold hours before the sun crept up. 

After the opening ceremony at 9am, things moved rather quickly. Koto had been walked and brushed much earlier, and from here on out it was a matter of getting into the ring at the right time for the 'kotai shinsa' or conformation judging. With 27 adult males entered, the trick is to get into the ring just a little bit before it is your turn to have your dogs teeth and testicles checked, and then to have the judge look over your dog and its movement. If you get into the ring too soon, the dog may tire before the judge gets to you. The judge for the ring was Mr.Fukutaki.

Getting Koto into the ring was not a problem, but once there he wouldn't settle. I had to move him out of the ring several times to try to walk it off, but nothing doing. Luckily I managed to get him to stack while it was our turn to be judged, but it was quite obvious that we needed to do better in the afternoon. I was given pointers by many of my friends and mentors, and was hoping for a repeat of the All Kanto show where Koto was terrible in the morning, but cranked it up in the afternoon.

Unfortunately the afternoon did not see us do much better. Koto was bouncing around for much of the time, and though I did get him to stack every time the judge was coming toward us, overall his performance as an adult male Shikoku left much to be desired. We were called to the first group, but as luck would have it we were left alone on the far end of a very large ring. By the time we were placed, we were 6th, a position we held to the end. One of Kotofusa's progeny placed 3rd in our ring, a bittersweet moment for myself and for Koto's breeder.

First place in the adult male ring went to entry number 791, Gyokuryuhou Go. He ended up losing to the adult female for BOB. As the day wound down we all gathered at the main ring to see who would take BIS. The top Shiba, Kishu, and Shikoku were gathered, and in the end Meinan no Hana, the Shiba, took top honors.

Apparently there were some good pictures taken of Koto and I in the ring, so if and when I get my hands on them I'll post them. We did the best we could, so while I was disappointed, I have no regrets. It was a terrific experience, and I look forward to the NIPPO spring shows. I wonder who I'll be showing then...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Flying With Your Dog? Think Twice

There been a lot in the news recently about dogs getting injured, or dying while in the care of airline companies. Fortunately I have not yet had a single problem with the dogs I've shipped over the past several years, and I arrange shipping for over 50 dogs a year.

This year a Chihuahua died in Japan while being flown on a domestic flight which prompted Japanese airlines to stop accepting dogs during the summer months. I was contacted here on the blog recently by a lady who's dog nearly died while being transported via PetSafe (which I use regularly), and more dog owners are coming forward with stories of how their dogs were treated by airline companies

There's definitely a risk to your dog the moment you place it in the care of another individual, and many of the horror stories I've read over the past few days could have happened at any airline or airport. It's something to be aware of if you plan to ship a dog, or have one shipped to you.