I was asked by a good friend of mine to take some Akita over to Italy for her. I was happy to oblige, and help with the export procedures. I love Italy, and I didn't need to be asked twice.
After a flight from Narita to Rome, I ended up down south in Calabria. It was a beautiful area, and next time I visit, it will have to be in the summer. The ocean was beautiful, the food terrific, the people friendly, and my hosts, gracious.
I'm now working on my Italian. Officially. I plan on making it my 4th language.
The night before day 12, we had a party at my house, complete with inoshishi-nabe (boar stew), and yakiniku. We stayed up till around 3 am talking afterward. My hunting buddy, Tom, stayed over as well. Anyway, this meant the Tom, my brother, and I, ended up only hunting for a few hours in the afternoon. We took Baron and Bishome. This was Bishome's first time out in the mountains.
I decided to hunt tower mountain. We headed in, and halfway up the first ridge, 5 minutes in, Baron moved off to the right toward a spot the boar like to lay up in. I pointed downhill back the way we had climbed up, and Tom headed that direction. I headed uphill and around the boar to cut off their retreat. Unfortunately it was at that moment that Bishome decided to pull a newbie move. Baron was on the edge of the thicket that the boar were in, and he was carefully trying to pick out where the boar were. Bisho saw him, and went charging up to him full speed. This naturally alerted the boar, and they charged out the back before I could get set up to cut them off. Baron tore off after them, and left Bisho at the edge of the thicket. At that moment she realized something fun was going on, so she went in, and rustled up another boar that had been in there. She even barked at it for a while, and followed it after it ran off. She gave up very quickly. Baron on the other hand went after the first boar for around 500 meters.
My brother and I spent the next hour hunting with Baron around the top and opposite side of the mountain, and Tom moved around setting up ambushes. Unluckily the next group of boar we rustled up were just above a row of terraced fields. Baron had been wandering around for a few minutes, and I was talking on my phone. As I hung up, I heard boar around 10 meters below me, and Baron pushing them from the other side. Unfortunately the herd slipped downhill. Baron went after them, and so did we, but they did not stop again.
Since we were running out of time, we hunted our way back toward the truck, running into Tom along the way. We walked together, and at the very end it looked like Baron was picking up scent from somewhere, but we were unable to pinpoint exactly where the boar were.
Later that evening, at home, Baron suddenly pulled up lame in his right back leg. He's been pushing pretty hard when we go out, and he's lost a fair bit of weight. His leg was fine the next day, and it was possibly just cramping up, but to be safe I put him on rest for 3 weeks. I was going to be busy with work and an overseas trip anyway. It's always hard to get enough calories into Baron during the hunting season without causing his stomach to act up. He can't handle too much food, or changes in diet.
Since I've experienced all the Nihon Ken as pups, and all but the Hokkaido as adults, I've got a fairly good feel for what I like/dislike about the different breeds.
Kishu pups: Usually pretty confident, a little stubborn and block headed. They don't usually cause too much trouble, but when their switch kicks in, all hell breaks loose. That goes for puppies and adults. All of a sudden they're strong, focused, and breathing fire. Otherwise, they're pretty happy go lucky, and not too vocal. They like to be with me, but it's not the end of the world if I'm gone.
Shikoku pups: A bit more sensitive to their surroundings, not quite as confident as the Kishu, and they're rude players. They get themselves amped up and don't know how to turn it off. The other pup/dog will be giving off all the stop signals, eventually snarling and snapping, and they'll still be play bowing, nipping, and bumping. They're tenacious, without the Kishu's switch. They make a bit more noise too, most of that coming in the form of alarm barking. The breed does not handle stress that well, especially the females.
Hokkaido pups: Loud, just loud. They play loud, argue loud, whine loud, and they yodel. They also can tend to play like the Shikoku, but they have a Shiba like streak for snark thrown in as well. So they play rude, and when the other dog turns on them, they get all shocked and pissy. They've got tons of energy, and drink tons of water. They're a bit velcro, but not in the extreme.
Shiba pups: They've got the most annoying whine/bark of the Nihon Ken, and the Shiba scream... argh. I find them a bit more aloof toward me than the other pups I usually have. The medium sized breeds are usually a lot more attached, and whine to be close. The Shiba basically do whatever it is they want, whenever they want, but if they don't like something, you'll hear about it. I think the breed's motto should be something along the lines of, "The best defense is an offense." They've got extreme levels of snark. Behaviors from other dogs that may set them off: breathing in their direction, attempting a play bow, bumping, and got forbid eye contact!
Kai pups: All the puppies and dogs here at my place love Kai pups (and in the inverse, everyone takes a while to get over new Shikoku and Shiba pups). They're the Japanese breed that was born with social graces. That being said, there's a shy streak to the breed. They're not go, go, go, like the Shikoku or Hokkaido, but they have their moments. The breed is velcro in the extreme. I'm always prepared for a lot of wailing and screaming during crate training, or when I have to leave. I always have to handle this breed with kid gloves, as they have an insane memory bank for negative experiences. I find the Kai to be the easiest to train (in obedience and that sort of thing).
Akita pups: I haven't had enough of them come through to say. The ones that have, have been pretty easy, thought toilet training is a nightmare. They're kind of like the clumsy kid in class with a good heart. An Akita pup's wail is almost cute, it's so plaintive.
Here's my Kishu, Baron, playing with a 3 month old Shiba, and 2 month old Kai. Everyone hates the Shiba, but the Kai pup takes it all in stride. Baron's the greatest puppy sitter ever. I'll have to write a post about what Baron's like to own. Basically, I won the lottery.
I moved out of the heart of Tokyo in February 2013, and landed here at the bottom of the Boso peninsula, in the middle of the mountains. I rented a little house that was so run down that the bottom 30cm of the supporting beams on the outside of the house had disintegrated. The roof leaked, the floor was rotten, there were (and still are) gaping cracks to the outside world, it was a nightmare. But there was something about this little place. It had character, which is very lacking in houses in Japan. Well a year later, it's still a work in progress, but it's coming together.
We're still clapboarding all the walls, and building a porch. That's our current project. And of course we have to do something about that green door.
We're trying to use recycled wood as much as possible, stuff that was already thrown out. These are old telephone poles that a neighbor gave us. They turned into the beams for our front porch.
Last winter was painful. With a drafty house, there was no way to stay warm. The ceiling is high, with a loft, and there are no walls in the house. It's impossible to keep it heated by any method other than a wood stove. And here it is. Our ghetto creation. It's fabulous. The only thing that would have been more amazing would be the rocket mass heater that I wanted to build, but ran out of time for. We cook on this baby, and it keeps the house nice and toasty.
The yard used to be an over run jungle. We cleared it once, but damn daffodils kept coming up. We've now cemented a puppy area with a nice drainage system built in for easy cleaning. The pups alternate playing in the house, sleeping in their crates, and when they start getting too wild or naughty, I move them out here to play for a bit.
I've built kennels in the back for the Shikoku girls (since they all hate each other), and we've got another fenced area in back as well for the dogs to chill out in. The girls get moved around, sometimes kenneled, sometimes in the back, sometimes with the pups, and then in the house too.
Anyway, this place reeks of DIY guy projects, but we're having fun working on it. I get my brother and friends out here every now and again to get a hand with things.
My brother and I have a tradition of doing crazy stuff on New Year's day. It used to involve going surfing in ice cold water, but for the past few years, we party and drink on New Year's eve, and then drag our asses out of bed at some hour of the day on the 1st, and head to the mountains.
We got out there sometime past noon this year, and from the get go it was an interesting day. We hit the hiking trail side of our hunting area. It was a gusty, clear day, and Baron immediately headed toward a known boar lair. No boar here though. We moved uphill, getting to the ridge with the hiking trail, and walked it back further into the mountains. A little way in, Baron started picking up scent on the right side of the ridge, so we headed in that direction. He silently hunted the area, and I could here things moving around, but no bay.
He ran downhill and into the gully at one point, then came back and started running in circles again. Finally, he darted out just in front of me. I saw something brown and small in front of him and lined up the shot, identified it as a mountain rabbit, and let it pass. I'm not interested in turning Baron into a rabbit dog. He tore off after it, chasing it for a good few minutes. In the end it went to ground in the next ridge, as I could hear Baron baying it up.
While we were waiting for Baron, we moved back to the trail and then I heard something moving on the ridge above us to our right. I thought it was the rabbit Baron was on, but it was darker, and very round. It moved closer and closer to us, and was finally identifiable as a Tanuki or Raccoon Dog. It was a cute little bugger, so we let him pass too. Baron was baying at this point, so I figured we should honor his effort and at least go see what he was up to. This teaches him that if he barks, we'll get to him, but if it's something we don't want, we'll then leave.
Halfway to Baron, he stopped baying, and headed back toward us. Once Baron arrived, I casually mentioned to my brother that I hoped Baron would not pick up the Tanuki's scent. Unfortunately it was a second later that I saw Baron perk up, and dash ahead around 10 meters. In a matter of 2-3 seconds he had the Tanuki, shook it, and dropped it. It was not moving, and I thought that it was an awfully quick kill. Baron was wandering around it, and as we got to it, my brother said that it was still alive, but seemed to be playing dead. I've heard of this sort of behavior, but never seen it.
We leashed up Baron, and moved him to the top of the ridge. I then tried to make sure the Tanuki wasn't too injured or just suffering, but the damn bugger would just not move! I poked and prodded, walked around, talked, video'd, and thought about petting him a bit because he looked so damn adorable. However I had a mental picture of me petting him, and the Tanuki suddenly whipping around to go vampire on my hand.
After 5 minutes or so, I got a bigger stick and pushed him a bit. He didn't need a second invitation to move, and within moments he was barreling downhill at an astonishingly slow rate. I can run faster than that.
Since we didn't have much time this day, we needed to stop heading further back into the mountain, and think about our route back to the truck. As we reached a ridge on our right, I saw some fresh track, so directed Baron onto it. This ridge was used as a natural highway for boar moving from our ridge, and the ridge opposite. As we got down into the gully, Baron picked up scent. He moved uphill on our left, and cautiously started moving forward. I followed him, encouraging him on, till he moved up, and barked. He was in some heavy underbrush, and immediately the boar got up and started grunting his displeasure. The boar would grunt, Baron would half bark back at him, come back to me, and then go back in. I moved along the face of the ridge just below them, but the ground was slippery, and there was a huge fallen tree with millions of vines all over hampering my progress. For a few minutes I hoped the boar would come out after Baron into the clear space ahead, but since he had the high ground it seemed more likely he would just leave on the path that he used to get into his bed.
I decided to gamble and try to get over the tree without making too much noise. My heart was pounding as I tried to scramble over it, and I lost my footing, making about as much noise as it is possible to make for a 70kg human being. The boar left shortly thereafter, and Baron was not interested in going after it without me. I was not going uphill after it, since we were short on time. So, we moved into the gully and started walking through the stream. It was a good 3km back to the truck, but there was a mountain road that we'd hit halfway to civilization. We got to it, and started walking on it, above the stream. Baron picked up scent, and headed across the stream. We followed and spent the better part of 30 minutes laboriously inching after him. He was moving very slowly and quietly, and so did we. Finally we got to where a large herd had been laid up. It was the most impressive lair I've ever seen. There were several large boar in this herd. Baron moved on after them, but kept stopping around 100 meters ahead. I figured the boar were there, so climbed uphill to get above them.
Up above, we hurried along the ridge, and got to the offshoot that Baron was on. I inched downhill toward him, and I could hear a lot of movement in the area. All I wanted was a nice clear shot at one of the boar. Baron was almost at the bottom of the ridge, and then moved to my left. I knew there was a large boar directly below me somewhere but I couldn't see it. There was an outcropping below me, so I moved onto it, and realized there had been a boar directly beneath me. It was in the underbrush in an instant, the whole herd crashing downhill and across the gully into the opposite ridge covered in fallen bamboo. Baron went after them.
As I thought, he came back after 100 meters. Nothing doing against a herd like that, and I wanted to look for any stragglers. As it was, 30 seconds later I heard a boar start grunting. Baron had caught it, but it boar don't squeal until they feel they've lost the fight. I slid down the slope like I was on my snowboard, and grabbed its back leg. One thrust of the knife and the boar was down. It was a small 20kg female. My brother made his way down to us, and we hoisted the boar onto a stick to carry between us, and headed to the truck.
Once we hit the road, we dropped the small boar on the side of it, and started walking toward the truck. Around 300 meters on, I mentioned casually that it would be prudent for us to leash Baron up, just so he didn't go back into the mountain if he picked up scent. The words were no sooner out of my mouth than Baron walked into a spot off the road, with pines in back, and thin bamboo in front, and started baying. There was a herd in there, and he was baying them up very well. They were moving closer and closer to us, and we had nowhere to go. In Japan you are not allowed to shoot from a road, but the bamboo was growing right up to it, and there was no way in. Seconds later Baron came flying out, but the boar took off and uphill to our left. We tried to hurry on the road toward the truck, chuckling about how we just escaped from a sticky situation. It was practically sunset! 50 meters on, Baron ran up an almost vertical incline to a spot around 10 meters above us, and started baying. Argh!
Again, nowhere for us to go since we were on the road, and can't shoot over the road either. We had another hairy experience, as in the twilight light the boar charged, Baron flew downhill almost directly into me, but luckily the boar did not come with him. The boar stopped at the edge of the cliff. Phew! 50 meters on, this time Baron moved into the thick bamboo on the other side of the road. Apparently the herd had started crossing the road now, and we ran into them again. This time we had space to get off the road, but it was a matter of seconds before the lead boar decided she had had enough of this pesky dog and came charging straight at him. Baron flew back toward me, which meant that I had time to load one shot with the boar bearing down on me, and fire at point blank range. She was within 2 meters of me, and the shot entered behind her cheek, destroying the jugular as it moved down through the vital cavity and ended up lodged in her left leg.
It was a close thing, but she dropped immediately. So there it was, our first 2 boar day ever. We took the boars home, and the large one weighed in at 63kg. My brother had guessed it at 80, and I thought 70ish. Goes to show how hunting stories of large mythical beasts are born.
So here we sit. 7 boars on 11 outings. Baron put in solid work this afternoon, and gave us some really nice bays.
Headed out with my brother, and my hunting buddy, Tom. We hunted our usual area, walking the first part of the mountain together. We ran into a boar just as we stepped into the mountains, but Baron's bay didn't hold it, and it was off. Baron gave chase back to deer mountain. We moved forward, regrouping at the bottom of deer mountain. Tom headed to the back entrance to the mountain, and the plan was for Baron, my brother, and I, to hunt one last ridge, and then push from the front of deer mountain, around to the back. Well we hunted the ridge, nothing there, and then headed toward the front door of deer mountain.
That's where things went awry. Baron was ahead of us, and quickly ran along the path to the back entrance. I was a little bit annoyed, as my assumption was that Baron picked up Tom's scent trail, and followed him. Baron was running around in the area that Tom was set up, and was not coming back, so my brother and I trudged on the planned course. After a while though, I noticed that Baron was running patterns on the other side of the mountain. We picked up pace, and headed over to him.
As we got within 100 meters, we descended into a small gully, and saw that Baron was on the ridge in front of us. I heard noise behind Baron, and as I had assumed, it was Tom. He had picked up on Baron's movement, saw him running search patterns, so had hurried to follow him. We all grouped up, and Tom said that Baron had been very tentative picking up scent from the left side of the ridge we were now on. I thought it was suspicious, so led Baron back to that side of the ridge, and moved across the face of the ridge. A few minutes later, Baron began descending the slope, into a bamboo thicket. It was only a few moments before I heard a boar get up and charge him.
Baron didn't bark at all, but I could hear him and the boar moving around, sizing each other up. There were at least two boar in there. I signaled to Tom and my brother to get in position, and that I would move downhill and ahead. I wanted to cut off any escape into the gully. Baron came thundering out of the bamboo, and now the boar were angry and grunting, preparing to chase Baron out of their territory. As Baron saw me, he wheeled back toward the bamboo, body taught, eyes wide, all business. I crept forward with him, and he moved carefully back into the bamboo. The boar took the bait and charged Baron. Out they flew to my left, a white streak, and a black streak behind it. As I raised my shotgun I saw hunter orange out of the corner of my eye and realized that Tom was in direct line of the charge. I left the shot to him, and a split second later he took it. The boar crumpled, got out half a squeal, and died. It was the quickest kill shot I have seen (other than some head shots I've had).
It was a 53kg virgin sow, with some excellent meat on her. I walked ahead and picked a path to carry her out on, and luckily we were able to get her to an unpaved farmer's road 100 meters below us. We gutted her, and put her in the stream to cool. Since we still had a few hours, and the car was a kilometer back on the other side of round mountain, we decided to hunt our way back.
Within minutes Baron picked up the second boar that had been in the bamboo, baying it solidly 60 meters above us. I sent Tom ahead to cut off its escape to round mountain, and I headed straight up. I closed to around 15 meters, but couldn't get a good visual. The boar charged and ran, toward round mountain. Unfortunately Tom wasn't in the position that I had hoped, and the boar slipped past. I moved forward with Baron, and getting to the path at the base of round mountain, Baron ran up and started baying again. The boar charged, and at the top of the ridge I could see its silhouette as it stopped. It was a 40-50kg class. Unfortunately, I couldn't take a shot as it was on the ridge (no backstop if I miss). I climbed, and as I did, the boar slipped through some intense thorny underbrush. Baron moved with me, but the boar opened distance. Baron chased for around 200 meters, and the returned. We headed back toward the truck, hunting along the way, but did not run into any more boar. Our quest for our first 2-boar-1-day hunt did not materialize.
Anyway, if you're going to hunt with your dog, don't send them anywhere you wouldn't go yourself. It gets dangerous, and freaky at times, but dogs get scared, and often the only way Baron will go after an aggressive boar is if he knows I'm there with the thunder. If dogs are hunting in a pack, there's more confidence all around, but personally I think that often leads to more injuries. Dogs get careless, or in each other's way, or they get too close in their over confidence. It often happens that packs will have a couple good hunts where they catch some easy boar, gain confidence, and then run into a nasty male that just slices them up.
So, that's 10 outings, 5 boar. I spent till 11:00pm on New Year's Eve butchering this one.
My brother's boss wanted to tag along on a hunt, along with his 13 year old son. I said yes, and so on a rainy cold morning, the two of them showed up at my house at 8:30. By 9:00 we were out in the mountains along with my brother.
Baron was on something almost immediately, but it was running, and try as I might to cut it off, it wasn't happening. We moved on. Another 20 minutes in and we started seeing fresh boar sign. Baron moved along the path to the right, and then downhill. The barking began, I moved downhill, but there were multiple boar, and they moved downhill into bamboo. Baron came out, I moved in to encourage him forward, and he left me there. Seems there was a straggler that he decided to go after instead, but thanks for leaving me in the middle of a bamboo thicket surrounded by angry boar, Baron. I couldn't get a look at them, but was trying to get a shot for a while. I had left everyone else at the top of the ridge, so they went after Baron, but he was already on his way back by the time they got there.
I enjoy letting people tag along with Baron and I, but at the same time it does cramp our style a bit. More people equals more noise, and pretty much everyone I know is not as fit as we are, so it slows the whole process down.
It was cold, windy, and wet on this day, so I needed to get Baron right on top of the boar in order for him to pick up fresh scent. This meant I needed to walk down to the bottom of all the little fingers of every ridge, and then back up. It's a fucking tiring endeavor dragging one's ass through wet, slippery underbrush.
At the highest point on the trail, there is a clearing with a beautiful ocean view, and some bushes below. From the moment we got to the clearing, Baron was scenting the breezes from below, and being very tentative about it. He moved into a ridge on the left of the clearing, so I thought they were further below. As it turned out, they were in the bushes below the clearing, but Baron was trying to flank them. I ended up on the left ridge, with everyone else still in the clearing, and an angry mob of boar chasing Baron in the bushes. Baron came out of the bushes to find me, but with me not being there, he lost the will to go after them. I could hear them slipping away through the ridge to the right of the clearing. Sounded like the circus was leaving town. If Baron and I had not had company along, we probably would have taken a boar here.
We moved further into along the trail, paying attention to the time since we didn't want to get caught too far back in the mountain with the tourists. We started heading back in the direction of civilization, and picking up the pace to get out of the mountains before dark. I noticed a change in Baron, as he seemed to be scenting on the trail which was a bit odd. Suddenly up ahead on the trail I saw movement. There was a herd feeding on the trail, completely oblivious to us. I quickly and silently eased one shot into my M3. Putting more shots in gets a bit loud. Baron looked like he was about to go charging in, so I had to move fast. They were around 15 meters ahead of me, and I spotted a large boar first, with a medium sized boar following. They disappeared around a bend, but there were three smaller boars quartered away, feeding, and still on the trail. I lined up a shot and popped one of the smaller boars. It rolled, squealed, and took off running. Along with all the other boar. It was getting dark, and I tracked them for a bit before calling it quits since there was no blood trail. Baron went after them for a couple hundred meters and came back.
We got out of the mountain just as it got dark. 4 boar on 9 outings. My marksmanship sucks as hard as ever. The next day we had a great BBQ with everyone, traditional boar stew and bbq all around.
I want my dogs and pups that I am taking care of to be even tempered and fairly social. With Nihon Ken puppies I am almost always working to direct their instinctual wariness about new people and situations. All it takes is time, patience, and extreme awareness of how the dog/pup is reacting to situations. If you don't socialize these dogs, and do it right, you can end up with problem behaviors for life, and that's no fun.
To start with, many Nihon Ken are born in places like this.
If they are lucky, they are owned by a kennel that walks all their dogs, but many don't walk all their dogs. They stick to working with the ones that are for show. So, many dogs don't get any socialization their entire lives. It's interesting to see though that some dogs will come through with terrific temperaments regardless of how they are raised/kept. Then again, there's a flip side to that.
I've got two of these Kishu boys at my house now since their kennel was having trouble placing them. They lived the first 3.5 months in this x-pen. The gentleman who runs the kennel is older, and due to recent health issues was unable to do too much in the way of getting them out much. They are healthy, big, chunky polar bears, and I can see that their base temperament is pretty sound. However because they didn't get out at all, everything is new to them, which means that just going into or out of a crate is a major hurdle. They take their time checking it out, and if anything spooks them, you have to start all over again.
Here's one of them looking at me in the open doorway. It took a few days before they were comfortable going in and out of the house. So, I collared and had them drag leashes at all times. Without this, when they were spooked by something, they'd run away from me. Every time this happens, it's reinforcing an unwanted behavior (if I'm scared, I just run away from everything). It was impossible to catch them and bring them in the house without scaring them by chasing, and I don't have an hour to sit and wait for them to be comfortable.
Anyway, the key for me is to read the dog's behavior. What's bothering them? Why are they reacting in a way that I don't like (barking, shutting down, tail dropping, etc)? Then when the dog is in a good place mentally, I recreate the situation, but set them up to realize that whatever was bothering them (like the post man for instance) is not a threat. Distraction is a great tool, and I use it a lot.
At some point all the pups that are born at, or come through my house, take a trip to the hardware store. In Japan, they have carts for pets, so I carry the puppies around for the first few minutes, go to the pet section and buy some treats, and then they get wheeled around the store 'exploring'. We usually get a few people that want to pet or greet the pups, and if the pup's not comfortable with something, we can move away from it easily, and control distance with the cart. Some pups have had to have several trips to the hardware store before they were really comfortable, but for most, 1 trip does the trick.
I'm going to be looking for homes for the two Kishu boys at some point, but they've got a lot of things to work through first. Once I feel that they're doing well enough to move on, I'll start looking for homes for them.
We're getting out late all the time now, haha. My youngest brother and I headed out past noon, so only had a few hours.
We hunted our usual area since I was quite sure the Kai boys had not done a very thorough job a few days before, but since we've covered a fair bit of ground in here since the season opened, I took us to all the corners of the area that we don't usually cover.
There was not much going on, but started picking up fresh scent. We were around the back of deer mountain, and Baron moved into some bamboo and started baying. It was a good strong bay, and we got to within 10 meters of him, but couldn't see the boar at all. The boar began grunting, and after a good couple minutes, they got wind of us humans trying to get in, and they made a dash for it.
All hell broke loose, since it was a herd. One charged Baron, and I saw glimpses of it flying downhill with Baron in tow. There were a few more flying downhill as well, but in a different direction. There was no point in moving, so we slowly crept downhill and waited. I pulled out my iPhone, and started up iHunt, playing some wild boar noises. There's usually a straggler or two left after herds take off, and sure enough, one started shuffling around in the bamboo, and headed toward us. Unfortunately the wind was against us, the boar caught wind, and started moving away. Funny thing is, it moved in the direction Baron had gone, and Baron was on his way back to us. They ran into each other, and another chase ensued.
After a good 600 meters, Baron came back. He had stopped a few times, but there was no way we were catching up. We headed back in the direction of the truck, and just as we were about to lose sunlight, Baron stiffened above a bamboo spot that we've found boar in before. He was attentive and very tentative moving forward, so together we moved downhill. Since we only had a matter of minutes before I was not allowed to use my firearm, I moved into the bamboo, making a fair bit of noise before Baron had got the boar located. We heard the boar slip out of the bamboo to our left. Baron got on the trail, but came back quickly, and we were happy he did since we had to get out of a dark bamboo covered ridge before we lost all light.
It wasn't an extremely good or bad day. Just a short one.
The art of using a single dog to hunt boar is difficult to master. It's like there's a thread between the boar and the dog, and one between the dog and me. We're all pushing and pulling at different times. If Baron and I can manage to get to that golden space without letting the thread snap at any point, we win. For this, it's paramount that he finds the boar as quick as possible, locates exactly where it is, and gets to his comfortable spacing before the boar moves. I have to pick up the messages in Baron's posture, and stay close enough to see/hear what's going on, not make noise at the wrong times, and then get into the sweet spot at the right distance and position. Baron then has to apply just enough pressure to the boar to keep it in place. Too much pressure and it will charge/run. Too little pressure and distance, and the boar will just move away. I can almost sense what's going on now when we're hunting together, and once we hit a rhythm on any given day, I know we're coming out with a boar.
While we have our 6 spitz type Nihon Ken, there are other breeds that originated in Japan. One of them is the Japanese Terrier.
"It is generally believed that the ancestors of the Japanese Terrier were brought by Dutch merchant ships to Nagasaki, the only Japanese port open to the West in the 17th century. It is unclear whether these dogs were Dutch Boerenfox (a Dutch terrier strain, like the Fox Terrier of England or the German Pinscher of Germany) or whether these were dogs brought along by English sailors. Unlike other descendants of Fox Terriers, the JT seems to have been developed exclusively as a pet. The dogs became very popular as lap dogs in ports such as Nagasaki, Kobe and Yokohama.
According to the Japan Kennel Club (JKC), planned breeding of Japanese Terriers did not begin until around 1920, when fanciers began selective breeding from the progenitor, the Kobe Terrier. The Japanese Terrier was recognized by the JKC in 1930. The Japanese Terrier is recognized by the Japan Kennel Club and the FCI. It is little known outside of Japan, but does have its admirers in Europe."
Almost a year ago I was asked to help find a female to send to Europe. It took some time, and quite a few meetings and phone calls, to find the right pup out of the right lines (and then to get a kennel to give up a nice female!). There were only 63 born last year, making them even rarer than the Shikoku! As such, the breed is definitely in a bit of trouble, and needs a bit of PR.
Well all my efforts paid off, and Mr.Ozaki of Ozaki Kennel kindly put up with all my questions and calls, and sent me this wonderful little girl named 'Fuji'.
I'm quite used to having Nihon Ken around, and am used to all their quirks and chicanery, but when a non spitz breed comes through, it's definitely an experience. I often love the novelty for the first few days, but that usually wears off, haha. I'm a Nihon Ken man through and through.
Fuji is now in Poland with her terrific new owners. Here's their website http://nihonteria.com/
She was sent as a breeding female with the understanding that it would help to promote and preserve the breed overseas.
Someone asked me a while ago for a Kishu male out of working lines. It took a while to find a nice pup, but here he is. Unfortunately it looks like he will not be going to the original home that asked for him, so he is available.
If anyone's interested in this male, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Riri was a Shikoku pup out of the latest Teruhide x Sekihoume litter. She was a beautiful pup, the pick of the litter, born at my friend (and Shikoku mentor) Iwahori-san's kennel. The litter had 2 females, and 1 male, with the 2 females being outstanding. There was talk between Iwahori-san and the NIPPO judge that bred Sekihoume, of keeping both females for show/breeding.
As it was, the black sesame female was placed with another NIPPO member, since Iwahori-san and I chose to keep Riri here. She was a beautiful girl, with strong eyes, great balance and structure, amazing temperament (the best I've seen in a Shikoku pup yet), she was all in all an extremely promising pup.
She was vaccinated immediately after arriving at my kennel (most NIPPO kennels do not vaccinate their dogs), and was settling in well, other than the fact that she was a very picky eater. She lost some weight for the first week, but then her appetite came back as she adjusted to the new menu. In temperament she was confident, so much so that another dog could get in her face, barking or growling, and she would not shy away or drop tail, nor would she growl back or posture at all. She would just ignore the provocation as if it didn't bother her. Baron was like this as a pup, and I could see the same stable temperament in Riri (she was a bit of a whiner like Baron though, haha).
On the morning of the 29th of December, around 10 days after arriving at my kennel, I walked outside to the puppy area. In the morning usually I am mobbed by the pups, but this time only the 2 Shiba came out. This is always a bad sign (it's happened once before). We had a BBQ at my house the night before, and the pups had all been fine, but over night the temps had dropped. I opened the pup's house, and this woke up Riri. She came out, but her eyes were a bit sunken and lifeless, and she seemed a bit wobbly. I immediately brought her in the house and put her in her crate. She ate her food, and slept most of the morning. I left in the afternoon to go hunting, and when I came back in the evening, she started puking as I walked in the door.
It was liquid with no food in it, but quite red with blood. Within 5 minutes we were on our way to the vet. Riri gets very carsick, so did not enjoy the ride at all, but we got to the hospital, and I held her pretty much the entire time we were there. She was weak, but could still walk around. In the morning, and now, she still had a normal temperature. A stool check showed nothing abnormal, other than that bad bacteria were out of balance in her digestive system. Since Riri had been vaccinated just over a week before, any tests for Parvo or Distemper would be skewed. Blood work showed nothing abnormal other than that her platelet count was high. The vet and I decided to keep her at the hospital overnight for observation and to get an IV into her.
The next I called the hospital, and the news was not good. In the morning she had begun having bloody stools, and was not responding well to medication or the IV at all. She was getting weaker. The vet thought she might have HGE like Hime had earlier in the year, or Parvo. The head of the hospital thought Distemper, and I was leaning toward Daffodil poisoning. There are a lot of daffodils growing around my house, and the puppy area used to be a flower bed. All the bulbs were dug up, but every once in a while a stray shoot will pop up.
Over the next few days we ran many tests and treatments on Riri, all to no effect. She was getting steadily weaker, though her symptoms eased. The vomiting and bloody stools stopped, but then she began having convulsions. After 24 hours the convulsions stopped, and all that was left for her to do now was recover. It was the 1st of January. I had been visiting her every day in the hospital. on the 30th I had been told once that I could pick her up and take her home as she was comatose and the vet was sure she would not last the night. I sped down to the hospital, and after some rubbing and talking to her, she came back around. I had been talking about Riri's condition with my friends on the Nihon Ken Forum Facebook page, and everyone was so supportive, it definitely helped with the stress I was feeling.
I saw Riri alive for the last time on the evening of the 1st. She was conscious and still looking at me, but could not move. All that was left for her now was to try to get over the hump of letting her body heal. Unfortunately she had spent all her reserves, and at 10am on the 2nd of January, my vet called to tell me that Riri had taken her final breath. I picked her up at noon, she still looked like she might wake up, and this whole bad dream would be over. But no. She was gone. I called Iwahori-san to let him know that she was gone. From the day she was hospitalized we had been talking about her condition, and we visited her together once.
I don't cry often, but when it comes to my dogs dying, it always gets me. In the parking lot, carrying Riri out, the vet and I broke down. I cried all the way home. All afternoon I tried to decide where to bury her, but with all the wild animals around digging everything up, I decided to cremate her. Dramatic, I know, but I couldn't bear the thought of her getting dug up. I built a large bonfire, and set her coffin on top. Riri is gone. It was a rough night and day, but this is life. Death is as natural as life, and we can't hold on to either. Life goes on, and I choose to look forward.
The puppy area is getting cemented, and hopefully this story will encourage more of the kennels here to vaccinate their dogs. I don't know what got Riri, and that's frustrating, but we can only do what we can.