Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Just had one of those moments of realization after a third Christmas dinner and the attached alcoholic binge, plus the mandatory late night dog walk that followed. Dogs and people are pretty similar.

Dogs love to look for patterns, as in after x comes y. When they hear me get up in the morning and start peeing in the toilet, walk time is next, so they start to get excited and riled up. My Kishu Tenko goes into nervous energy mode and paces (she was kennel raised and never walked, so pacing is what she does when she goes over her stress threshold).

People love to look for patterns and rules in life too. It feels so good to know that if we do x, y will follow. It's everywhere. We try to control outcomes, and in their own way, dogs are trying to control outcomes too.

But where it gets really eye opening is when we realize that we're not controlling a lot of the outcomes we're looking for, no more than Tenko is when she paces. Of course there are some things that we can control, but the vast majority of things that happen everyday are actually influenced by too many outside factors to be truly under our control.

People that can't deal with this end up stressing, and dogs do too. This is why I don't let my dogs pace or go into neurotic behavioral patterns. I don't like habits like that, they annoy me, and they're not good for the dog either (no more than they are good for people). It's pretty easy to teach dogs that the toilet flushing in the morning doesn't equal walk time. Just mix up the order of things, and don't move onto walk time until the dog has calmed down. If the dog's not calming down, distract and stop the behavior, then move on to walk time.

This is why I don't have too many patterns with my dogs. I don't walk them at set times every day, and there's no specific order that everyone is walked, or that things are done. Anyway, I learn a lot about behavior hanging with my dogs. It's better for them to be flexible, aware, with higher stress tolerance, less need for controlling their environment, and to be able to handle change. Goes the same way with people.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

More Shikoku Pups

EDIT: These pups have been homed. Thanks!

DOB: 2015/10/06

The top picture is of the male, and the bottom of the female. These pictures were taken at 1 month old.
I already have a few requests for the male out of this litter, so I'll be deciding where he goes after I've picked up the pups later this month.

Available Shikoku Pups

Edit: The black sesame male has been homed. Thanks!

There are three males looking for homes. Might not be everyone's cup of tea since they're out of a half sibling breeding. I did take a look at them yesterday, and they were quite friendly. Their grandfather on both sides is out of Kotofusa.

DOB: 2015/10/04

As usual, message me at if you are interested.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Dropped by AKIHO Today

Made the trip down through the night to get to Okayama for the AKIHO Honbuten (national show) today. Stumbled in tired, but it was fun to see all the friendly faces. I prefer the atmosphere at NIPPO shows personally, but it's always a learning experience to see how the other associations judge their breeds, and what they emphasize.

I'm sure there will be pictures up all over the web, so I didn't bother bringing my camera. I was happy to chill and spectate. There were 4 Meiyosho given out this show.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Seriously slacking on the blog. I do it all the time, with a lot of things. I forget to record them. So caught up in the doing. I'm going to try to play catch up now, but everything's going to be in the wrong order. Sorry.

For starters the hunting season started on the 15th. It doesn't mean as much to us as it used to since we hunt all year now, but that's just within the confines of Tateyama city, and only by request of the city or landowners. I've been busy, busy, busy, and with the 14th/15th being the NIPPO Grand National in Hiroshima (which Mark and I drove down to!), the first day I could actually make it out was the 19th.

I think the typical hunter gets all worked up for his one day a week he can go out. He's planned the day, all the gear is prepped, and he's up and out there at the crack of dawn. Here you can see Baron and I getting into the truck at 11:45 haha. We're like that. I'm not a fan of wasting time (quality over quantity yo!), so we try to get in, get a boar, and get out. Efficiency. It ties into everything, including hunting with 1 dog over a whole pack, and then hunting style too. I just don't want a quality hunting dog I've put years of work into getting injured. Our hunting style has evolved to fit this ethos, though it may appear strange to some. We don't do it the 'right' way haha.

So 11:45 we head out, and by 12:45 we head into the mountain. I pick the ridge, we move up, Baron goes off to the right to a known boar nesting area. He runs a little loop in there, so I move around on the high ground, and out pops a little boar. I yell to Baron that it's up here, the boar runs downhill, Baron catches, I dispatch with knife. All of 15minutes and we have our first boar of the season. Nice start, so I decide to go for one more. First we get the 15kg boar to the truck, and gut it. I pop it in the river to cool it, and realize I dropped my jacket somewhere on the trek down. We head back up, I grab the jacket, and notice that Baron is ahead with tail high and twitching. He starts barking into a bunch of gnarly undergrowth, so I load up the shotgun as the boar bolt out the back. Baron gives chase for a bit, then comes back to get me. I move downhill with him and see the boar around 50m away. Not a good shot though. We move forward, Baron lures the boar toward us, and they charge, but Baron's in between me and them so no shot. We give chase for a bit more before calling it.

We move across the stream at the bottom and over onto the facing ridge. As we climb through the bamboo there's plenty of fresh track. We get in under some orange trees, and I notice Baron's picked up fresh scent, and the boar are close. It's 14:15. Baron moves into a complete tangle of undergrowth, and I hear him growling, low and quiet. The boar's in there. I'm not crawling straight down after him, so I move to on the high ground to the right to cut off one escape route. As I'm wondering how to get in there, Baron and the boar make contact for a second and I hear the scramble and growl of Baron in close quarters. I have to get in there before Baron has a chance to get hurt. I crawl in.

I'm gonna throw the video in here as well, but that's the running commentary. I'm sliding in on my ass, the undergrowth is too low for me to stand, and it's a bit dangerous since I can't really move to get away from a charging boar. I pick the only 2 thin trees in there, and make eye contact with Baron. He knows what's up, and moves to the right and downhill to push the boar back up toward us. He moves around a bit to make sure he knows exactly where the boar is, and I go back to pick up my pack that I took off when crawling in. I just want to make sure I'm ready for a chase. Baron goes to my left to lure the boar into charging, and I set up my position. I hear the boar take the bait, Baron comes flying through, the boar right behind, and at 3 meters I drop the boar. 58kg and a nice female. 3 slugs through the head, pretty much instant death.

We bleed the boar, and then drag it out of the mountain. It's just past 14:20, but that's enough for today. We run into a few farmers down at the bottom of the mountain, everyone thanking us for keeping the boar in check. It was a good day and a good hunt.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


So I got a few questions and mail about my last post. To answer them all here...

Nothing really has changed in the overall amount or type of requests I get from overseas, or what I'm seeing through the internet, pictures, and in dog shows. THIS is exactly what I'm a bit worried about. When the only feedback people getting interested in the breed, owner, and even breeders, are getting is from people who know nothing about the breed this will create a problem. I think even unconsciously it will affect what breeders breed toward. In the worst scenario I think people breeding for profit or solely to produce pets will produce what the majority of their customers want. It's been a few years now, but other than getting some diversity overseas, it just seems to me that with a few exceptions, the quality of pups produced drops off after a generation or two.

People generally seem to love the wolf-like appearance of the breed (the black sesame coloration), and while saying they've done their research, still want a dog that does well with other dogs, can go everywhere with them, is super friendly etc.

We can have the argument here that a breed that is difficult for the average person to own will have trouble being 'preserved'. I get that. I also understand that a lot of breeders will want to produce dogs that are easy to sell. With my post I'm just trying to tip the scale in the other direction a bit. Hopefully the people that are interested in keeping type, understanding more about the different lines in the breed, and the different type they have, the history and temperament of the breed etc, will read this and move in a different direction. Let the others create a pet version of the breed that comes with a list of BIS BOB CH HDA.

That's something I guess, but there's more to the breed than that. NIPPO members are actually preserving a piece of the past, possibly a breed that no longer really fits into the average person's lifestyle, but that's what they've chosen to do. There doesn't seem to be too many overseas that understand that.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Shikoku is Not a Wolfdog

If most will not admit it, I usually get the feeling that people overseas who find the breed and are attracted to it, well they find it 'wolfy', and they like that. It's funny because in Japan if you tell breeders the breed looks like a wolf, they generally tend to give you a funny look, half smile, and an ohhhhkay sort of a nod.

It really is okay. I have no judgement for pet owners who love the 'look' of a breed. If that's what draws you to it, that's okay. If that's why 90% of requests from people overseas are for black sesame Shikoku, that's okay too.

But I beg and implore anyone getting into the breed as a breeder to remove the 'wolf' attraction from your brain. The reason why I'm saying this is that it will affect the 'type' you breed toward. Even if it's subconsciously, you'll be breeding toward an incorrect image of the breed. Learn what the breed is in its entirety, if possible come to Japan to see it over here, and learn from NIPPO members that have been breeding them since the early days of the breed.

There is a stereotype image that is prevalent here in Japan that says that the Japanese breeds turn into something else once they are exported. Breeders overseas breed toward their idea of what the breed should be, and give it a few generations and it's a different dog. Hey, if the dogs are healthy and going to good homes I guess that's not the end of the world. But the totality of the breed that attracted you to it, that bit of Japanese culture, wouldn't it be cool if you were actually preserving that correctly?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Dogs

Had a few minutes before walking the dogs, so ran in and grabbed the camera to snap a few pics. Some of the dogs are mine, some are just pups I'm taking care of.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bear Dogs?

I visited a friend the other day, and he happened to have a fresh bearskin hanging. He kindly gave me a piece and a foot so I could see what my dogs would think about it. Here are the 45 day old pups on their first bear

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Zen Collection

Just a little shout out to the Zen Collection. A good friend of mine, Angela Ortiz, is their brand ambassador. We've had some fun conversations over drinks about the project, and about the stories behind these amazing little bits of Japanese culture they are digging up for their collection.

All this stuff is made by traditional Japanese craftsmen, and as with the Nihon Ken, these beautiful pieces of Japanese culture are dying out with the artists crafting them. It behooves us to support the ones that are left.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015


I use a wood stove to heat the cabin. I could buy a solid cast iron stove for 100,000 yen (maybe I'll make one at some point), but I use a flimsy thin burner known in Japan as a daruma stove. It only lasts a few years, but costs around 5000 yen. Theoretically I could keep burning through them for 20 years and I would finally have paid as much as I would have for a cast iron behemoth.

Anyway, I've used my current stove for 2 years, and rather than burning through, the top actually rusted out since I left a tea kettle on it constantly. So, since autumn's settling in it was time to clean the chimney and switch in a new stove.

What do we do with the old one? Recycle it into the coolest fern pot.

Don't throw it out, recycle lalalala

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Baron x Tenko: 27 days old

So here are the girls. Everyone's growing nicely, and everyone is healthy. They're very mobile, coming out to do their business, and very eager to eat. Yesterday I saw Tenko regurgitate food for them for the first time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kuromasa x Chacha: 18 days old

The first three pictures are the larger female. Looks like she'll be a sesame, and the smaller female a red sesame.

More Monkeys

Woke up to the sound of monkey alarm chirps. This is the first time they've been on my property since I put in the loft windows.

YouTube Video

I love it. Lying in bed and watching monkeys feeding and at play. If you look at the tails on these monkeys you may notice they are rather long. They're hybrids with Taiwanese monkeys that were released into the wild by some idiot. Why do people do things like that?

Monday, October 12, 2015

3.5 Weeks

I think my Shikoku pups are now larger than the Kishu pups. It could be a breed thing, or the fact that there's 5 Kishu pups and only 2 Shikoku, or they'll just be smaller dogs. Tenko is at @47cm and Chacha is 49cm and noticeably larger. Guess we'll see. Maybe I'll move one of the Kishu over with Chacha and see how that goes.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


The pups are growing so fast. Keeping on top of keeping all the dogs healthy, socialized, keeping up on training for others, and then all the daily maintenance for so many dogs... fun, fun. But hey, that's what it takes to make the next generation, and the process is fun and worth the effort.

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hokkaido Puppies

Congratulations to the Hokkaido Association of North America on the first litter of Hokkaido pups born in North America.

Out of a brindle male and Black and Tan female they got a nice variety of color.

Monkey Business

When you're going after boar and run into a super troop of monkeys.

YouTube Video

Rumor has it there are over 100 in this troop, and I counted over 60. I literally sat under the tree there for over 10 minutes watching them pass. Of course Baron and Masa had set them on the move. We were out looking for boar, and getting some hunt training (and a work out) for Masa.

This is the second time Masa's been out with me. The first time was a complete joke since he would only go uphill, and refused to go downhill. You can imagine how that went. Ahhh the joys of training new hunting dogs.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eyes Open

Eyes are opening, and they're getting mobile. Today was moving day, and now pups and mom are out front in the puppy area.

Nihon Ken Artwork

A good friend of mine here in Japan is an artist who draws the Japanese breeds. She also finds fun little items sometimes that she will ship overseas, so I thought I give her a bit of promotion in case anyone thinks it would be fun to get something done. Here she is on Facebook

I really like what she does on wood like this one below.

Monday, September 28, 2015

NIPPO Saitama Branch Fall 2015

Entered Mei (Kotomi Go Yamabiko) in the Saitama branch show. It takes a lot of work to get a dog ready, and a lot of breeding beforehand. Then on the day you make sure you get there in time, and then there's the whole process of easing the dog into a comfortable place before and after it gets into the ring. Most Shikoku get carsick, so that's another layer of conditioning you have to deal with (and clean up). Some dogs are high energy, some low energy, and you have to adjust your process.

Here we are in the ring, in a typical NIPPO stance with the dog out front, and the lead at approximately 45 degrees. Mei was terribly out of coat, but it's a lot funner to show a dog than just hang around a show, and it's great practice for me as a handler. Thanks to the Yajima's as always for the picture of Mei and I. Here's their blog

We were happy to get 2nd place in class. Mei is a nice dog, and more than anyone I know what her faults are. She's got great ring manners and temperament, and just great temperament in general which I really like about her. Here she is from this spring when she was almost in coat.

Here's a short video from the female wakainu 1 group. There were a lot of nice dogs in this group, with first place going to a friend's Kishu female, Sara. She's over on the far right in the video. That's three first places in a row for her now.

Shows are definitely not the end all for me, which is probably why I'm not that excited about the results. It's a place to see everyone, see the new dogs coming up, and then a fun game to battle the environment and your opponents. There are so many intricacies in dog behavior, and human behavior, that you get to see at shows. It's looking more like I wont have a dog to show at the national, but I guess we'll deal with that bridge when we get to it. It would make the long trip easier to travel without any dogs haha.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Kuromasa x Chacha

Chacha was bred to Kuromasa, and while we got two ties in, she didn't start looking pregnant for quite a while. It's always a tricky thing catching the start of a female Shikoku's heat. I really was lucky in that I saw the tiniest drop of blood smeared on her back leg. Other than that nothing. No drops on the kennel floor or anywhere else for days after that, but it looks like I got it right.

This is Chacha at 3 years.

Her sisters, Meme and Nana, have been tearing up the show ring as usual, but Chacha was retired after losing the tip of her ear. Lucky for me, because that injury brought her to my house. I really wanted Chacha as part of my program because she's got a fantastic temperament, and great color. I wish her hips were better, but luckily they're not terrible.

We had tried to get a litter out of Kuromasa x Chacha 2 years ago, and actually drove 2000km round trip to attempt it, but while there was a tie, we got no pups out of it. Here's a picture of Kuromasa from that trip.

He's got a really friendly temperament as well, and good structure. I checked his hips, and while not fantastic, they're decent.

Well here we are 2 years later with 2 female red sesame pups. I'm excited to see how they turn out.