Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Typhoons, Typhoons

That's probably how I'll remember this year. Not as the year we had a new emperor ascend the chrysanthemum throne, or that Japan took 4 wins in the rugby world cup and made it to the semi-finals. No, I'll remember Typhoon 15 and Typhoon 19 (we number them here in Japan).

If I blogged as much as I used to, you would know all about the carnage from Typhoon 15 hitting us smack in the face down here in Tateyama City, the ensuing week (double that for some people) of power outages, water outages, gasoline rationing (when you could find a gas station that was open), all the staples of a proper disaster. But hey, we got on with it and do what people do. We helped each other, got past the nasty bits, and now we're rebuilding. Well we were, and then Typhoon 19 (Hagibis) came through and socked Japan a good one. Luckily for us in Tateyama, it didn't come ashore in our neck of the woods (which was the initial projection). That would have been catastrophic. As it was, there were over 70 people killed all over Japan, with damage spread through multiple prefectures. This time we only lost power for 3 days.

All in all, it's kind of ruined any plans for September/October, and now the NIPPO Grand National (and the hunting season!) approaches, and my dogs and I are in no state of mind or physical shape to really compete. But, I will still go, and since I am going to Okayama I have entered 2 of my dogs. We'll see if I actually take them. I wanted to show Yoshi, but thanks to the typhoons we were unable to attend regional shows that we had sent in entries for, so didn't get a 'yuryo' (excellent) result which means he is ineligible for the national. Sorry, Yoshi. He's actually the most show ready of my dogs, so that was a bit of a bummer.

But hey, we'll keep plodding on. There's always next year. Well there are two more typhoons out there in the Pacific right now. If we're lucky they'll just go away. But you know, this year has been weird.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Nihon Ken Database

I am doing it. Everyone who reads my blog has probably seen my Shikoku pedigree database that tracks health issues in the breed, as well as calculates COI/AVK. Well it needed to be out there for the other Nihon Ken, and I've just been holding back because of the amount of time and costs involved. But hey, I had a beer the other day and said fuck it. Let's do it. So it is happening, and CJ helped me set up a Gofundme to let everyone pitch in and help (I want to be kind to myself this time and not run myself ragged).

Here's my blurb from the Gofundme pitch:

The 6 aboriginal Japanese breeds (the Nihon Ken) are the Akita, Shiba, Kishu, Shikoku, Hokkaido, and the Kai. As most of you are aware, there is no testing for health issues being done on the breeding stock here in Japan. As with all breeds, hereditary health issues exist. The key is to be aware of them, and collect as much data possible to track and reduce/remove these issues from the Nihon Ken. Better breeding, leading to happier dogs and owners.

As more of the Nihon Ken have been exported or born out side of Japan, breeders and dog owners overseas have been discussing and reporting the health issues that have popped up. It is in the best interest of the Nihon Ken for all of us to work to better the health of these breeds. To track the health issues, a pedigree database that has this capability is essential.

As rare breeds with small populations, the Nihon Ken also suffer from a lack of genetic diversity. A 4 or 5 generation pedigree is a very meager tool for a breeder to try and make healthy decisions regarding the direction of their breeding program, what dogs to use, which to remove. We've got modern tools to help us head in the right direction (COI, AVK calculation, DNA diversity testing), but none of the current online breed pedigree databases had the capability to calculate COI/AVK.

I've been involved with the Nihon Ken for over 10 years now, starting with my own interest in hunting with them, then blogging to correct a lot of the online misinformation about the breeds.

My original blog http://tora-inu.blogspot.com/ 
Current blog http://nihonken.blogspot.com/ 

Japanese blog (just started recently to try to increase awareness about the breeds within Japan) https://www.yamainu.co/ 

As time went on I realized with the lack of interest in the Nihon Ken within Japan, and the increasing interest in the breeds overseas, it was important to help get good dogs overseas and establish solid gene pools. So I started helping with exporting the Japanese breeds.

One of these days the overseas gene pools will likely save some of the breeds from extinction. Obviously we want these gene pools to be healthy as possible, so as part of this effort last year I finally got a pedigree database online for the Shikoku Ken that calculates COI, AVK, and collects data on health issues. If you haven't already, please take a look.

This was made possible through the help and advice of a lot of people. Thanks to Nico Reimerink for blazing the path with the first Shikoku database, Tetsuji Ishihara for collecting decades worth of Shikoku pedigree data and making it available, Laura Quadri for her programming expertise, Ann Kim for her advice and knowledge, and the good folks over at https://pedigreedatabaseonline.com/  for setting up the system. It took a lot of my time, work, and cash to get it up and running, and there are also the yearly fees to keep it maintained (and the work to continue adding data). I'm currently tracking issues in the Shikoku like hip dysplasia, entropion, the dreaded lipid storage disorder, and epilepsy etc.

Recently, there has been an uptick in reported issues in the Kai (PRA and other eye issues) and in the Kishu (thyroid and allergy). The Hokkaido also has collie eye anomaly, cataracts, and PRA that need to be tracked. I've known that we need to move quickly to collate the data, and that a copy of the database I set up for the Shikoku would be very useful for everyone. What was holding me back is the amount of work and cash that will go into this project. So here we are. Help me help you and the Nihon Ken and 'Pay Shig To Make a Nihonken Pedigree Database!' Catchy, I know. I will do this regardless of how much everyone donates, and 2000USD is just a number that will pay for databases for the Shikoku, Kai, and Kishu and keep them up for the next 2 years. With any extra time/cash I will set one up for the Hokkaido next, and if I ever feel extremely adventurous I will add the Akita and Shiba.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or advice you may have. I apologize in advance for the fact that I am notoriously slow in replying since I am generally swamped by correspondence regarding the Nihon Ken.