The Source

I got Shassi in 1993 from Sunojo Kennels.  In 2007, I got Tierce from Anautuk Kennels, bred out of two Sunojo parents.  In 2017, I got Shimi from Sunojo Kennels.

Of course, both breeders did the requisite testing and showing and evaluation before breeding, but I got more than just dogs with excellent antecedents.

Both breeders have always been there for me.  If I have a problem, if I have questions, if I need emergency dog care – they are there.  If I and my husband both died, I know that Shassi and Tierce will never be without a home and would never be cast into an uncertain future.

I didn’t just buy a dog when I bought these three dogs; I bought lifetime support for myself and my dog.  Not only are these people friends; they are also a part of a network of Shiba people who will never, ever let one of their dogs be subject to the whims of fate if there was any way to prevent it.

“Well, get one from a rescue,” you might say.  Problem is, rescue can be a lucrative business when done poorly.  Just as puppymills sacrifice the well-being of the dog and owner for profit, ‘retail rescue’ or ‘McRescues’ play on the emotions of well-meaning people to sell dogs for hundreds of dollars – dogs that may have been given scant medical examinations and insufficient temperament evaluation before being placed in homes.

The best rescues – and they do exist – take their responsibility seriously.  They vet their dogs carefully, foster for extended periods, and evaluate the dog’s reactions to the stimuli of normal life in the society where they have come to live.  Like good breeders, they do take their dogs back.  They give generous support to owners – who may be dealing with behavioural problems from past mishandling, temperament and health problems from irresponsible breeding practices, and other vagaries caused by the luck of the draw.

If you want a dog, from whatever source, ask yourself about the kind of people you’re getting your dog from.  What kind of actions do you want to support?  What kind of future do you want to help build with your money?

What is your dog source doing for you?  What are they doing for the community?  If dogs are an important part of society, what is your dog source doing to promote a healthy attitude towards dog ownership?


Don’t Worry

Don’t worry, he’s friendly. He’s really a big love bug. Can you please stop your dog from snarling? He’s really just trying to make friends. Oh, your dog doesn’t like other dogs? You should keep your dog off the sidewalk. I don’t want to risk my friendly dog with a vicious animal who is going to attack him just for saying hi. No, he’s off-leash because he’s harmless, really. He barrels into you because he likes you. I don’t understand why you’re so anti-social; they’re just clothes. That looks like just a scratch; he’s a big puppy, really.

Well, you should have managed your toddler better; he just loves children. Some children just can’t handle a big, friendly dog. You should tell your kid the difference between a friendly dog and a vicious one. It’s not like he bit him. Yeah, well, claw marks aren’t a bite. He shouldn’t have panicked with my big love bug galloped right for him, barking. He barks and lunges because he’s excited. Oh, it’s worse when he’s on leash; that’s why we didn’t leash him up. I’m sorry about the blood.

He just wants to say hi. Well, if you don’t like dogs, there’s something wrong with you. Oh, you like dogs, just not irresponsibly owned ones? Well, in your face. Are you perfect? I’m sure the world would be SO much better if we were all perfect like you. My big fluffums doesn’t need your judgment. I bet you’re not even afraid of dogs; you’re just mean. Why would I leash him? He’s fine. Well, if you don’t want a dog jumping on you, maybe you should stop walking in the park.

Besides, I don’t have time to take him for an on-leash walk; I have to be at a meeting. Yes, it’s more important than whatever you were doing. Would you stop going on about your dog and your clothes, your crying child, and your bleeding hand, please? You know, you’re really too much. This whole encounter isn’t about you; it’s about me. Me and what I want. And now you’ve made me late for the meeting, so thanks for that.

What was I doing that was so important? I’m presenting a report on how to teach children the concept of consent.


Today, January 28th at around 9:07am, our baby boy Darko passed away in our arms. It was at home with the family on his…

Posted by Bonnie Hussell on Sunday, 28 January 2018


I met Darko when I started working at Dog ‘n Suds in 2011.  Darko was one of the dogs that Tierce would tolerate and even play with, if the mood struck him right.  He could run circles around Tierce and would occasionally speed up and pull away from him like the Shiba was running in mud.  Darko would then circle around and see if he could poke at Tierce from behind and then speed away again, laughing like mad.

Darko loved running, loved the water, loved adventure, but what he really loved was his person, Bonnie.  He would tolerate time in the daycare when she had to be elsewhere, but he wasn’t happy until she was back where she belonged – with him.

He was passionately devoted to the rest of his family – Lee, Bonnie’s human counterpart; Harlem, his fellow canine partner in shenanigans; and the cats, Frenzy, Deunan, and Ravage.  Fortunately for Darko, from the beginning to the end of his life, he had what he loved best close by.

Cancer isn’t fair.  It can’t necessarily be predicted or guarded against; it sometimes can’t even be fought.  Darko did fight a wearying battle with it over the last year, along with his people who scrimped, saved, and sacrificed to get him the treatment and medications he needed.  Just when the last chemo treatment had been administered and it seemed that hope wasn’t too much of a luxury, Darko succumbed to complications.

The last time I saw Darko was when we met him and Bonnie while out on a walk.  He was a little scraggly from the cancer treatments, but in spirit, and took Shimi’s over-enthusiastic greeting with good grace.  Tierce, of course, was happy to see him.  Bonnie and I chatted and parted.  The last memory I have of him was him trotting along at Bonnie’s side, not caring where they went as long as he was with her.  From all reports, that was how he left this world – surrounded by those he loved best, not caring where he went as long as they were with him.

We are glad that you were loved, Darko, and that we knew you.  Our condolences to your family.

Julie, Mischa, Tierce, and Shimi




If you wish to help with the final medical bills, Darko’s GoFundMe is here.

Explore Darko’s life and adventures at his website or his Facebook page.

The Shiba Fitness Regime

We don’t care if it hurts. We don’t care if you don’t want to.  We don’t care if you’re sick.  We don’t care if you’re injured.  We don’t care if you’re dying.

You are going to do this.

You are going to haul your lazy ass out of bed and pull on your clothes.  Then you’re getting that same ass outside – whether it’s sunny, rainy, windy, snowy, hailing, tornado…

You made a commitment and we’re going to see that you stick to it.  We’re simultaneously the cheapest and most expensive personal trainers you could have hired.

You’re pathetic and out-of-shape, but we’re going to fix that.  You’re going to walk until you die, because right after you die, we’re going to decide, finally, to take that poop you’ve been begging us to do for the last hour.

Too bad about your pneumonia.

It’s been five hours and we need to pee.  Again.

Meet The Shiba

Owning a Shiba is not like owning other dogs.

Okay, everyone says that.  This is one of the breeds that, if you say you like it, the owners immediately go into a litany of why it’s not the right breed for everyone and that its natural temperament is somewhere between Vlad Tepes and that bitchy girl in 7th grade who tripped you going into Math class.

But, really, it’s not.

Shibas are this Beagle-sized breed of dog that looks like a tiny husky.  A little fox.  A Corgi.  A Basenji.  Mini-Akitas.  They’re 20ish pounds and they usually come in red.  But they could be black and tan.  Or sesame, which is a colour hard to describe, but looks like you took the red dog, rolled it in some glue and then in some charcoal.

But what we really want to warn you about is the temperament.  They’re great little dogs. Except when they’re not.  Except if you try to clip their nails.  Or brush their tails.  Or do anything – ANYTHING with their ears.  But they’re great little dogs. But there’s that other dogs thing.  Some of them play with other dogs.  Others destroy them in small bites, like furry piranhas.  It’s worse if there are two of them.  They feed off each other.  Oh, no, they don’t fight together.  Well, except for that one time.  That was a $250 vet bill.  But normally, they’re very nice.

Do they learn quickly?  SO quickly!  Then they use it against you.  Recalls are virtually unknown here.  Oh, this one is okay with the recall, but that just means they’ll come up to you if there’s nothing else to do.  You are the most boring thing on their walk or run or whatever you’re doing and, if there’s something better, good luck getting them to come back.  They never will.  Oh, one did this one time, but it was a fluke.  And a hunk of cheddar.

Grooming?  They’re so clean; they practically bathe themselves.  Well, there was that mud incident.  Bathing them is great if you are tired of hearing… everything.  They scream.  Did we mention the scream?  Like a train whistle crossed with a dying rabbit.  No, we’re not being crude; that’s how it sounds.  No, we haven’t actually been around a dying rabbit, but anyway, they’re loud.  They blow coat like Michelangelo painted – with great perseverance, as if they put their whole hearts into re-insulating your house.  We hope you like the colour cream.  We’ve already mentioned the nails?  Good.

How are they with kids?  Oh they can be great if raised with kids, but we do recommend older, respectful children.  Younger ones are merely springboards to the Cheerios.  Well, I wouldn’t say that they would bite them, but Shibas do like their space and aren’t always fond of darting youngsters.  Oh, and that little habit of Junior of grabbing dogs’ cheeks needs to be stopped yesterday.  I’m sure it’s cute and looks great in family photos, but your dog with Junior’s head in its mouth is going to look slightly less photogenic.

You have to go?  Well, it’s been great meeting you and introducing you to this wonderful breed that we love with all our hearts.  Maybe the Shiba isn’t right for you, but it is for us and – in some small way – that makes us special.

Enter 2018

Winter on Vancouver Island marches on. The snow hasn’t lasted and a drizzly cold rain has superseded the white flakes that turned Nanaimo white for a few days.  With the excitement of the season over and the new year well underway, things have settled back down.  The Shibas seem ready to take on 2018.  Only three more months until Shimi turns one and Tierce turns eleven!

We have been walking a lot, exploring downtown and some of the larger parks.  Walking down the E&N Trail and heading across the highway to hit the Queen Elizabeth Walkway is a nice walk which connects with Maffeo-Sutton Park.  If you’re a Pokemon Go player, Maffeo-Sutton is a really popular place for Pokestops and gyms.  There’s nearly always people playing, sometimes with their dogs.

Pokemon Go isn’t a bad game to play with dogs.  It provides an opportunity to teach your dogs to walk by your side, stop and wait while you capture a Pokemon, and lie quietly while you go raiding.



Shimi does not like the bath.  She will cry after a little while and try to escape.  Tierce, of course, has a long-held disdain for water with soap.

I’m thinking of stopping into Dog n’ Suds every so often.  The plan is to bring Tierce and Shimi into the bathing room and feed them treats, then leave.  Maybe that will inure them to bathtime.  Or maybe I should just bring a big chew stick with me.  The first bath Shimi had, she was kept quiescent with liberal applications of PB2 powder, so that could be a strategy.


Year Of The Dog Knife

Victorinox has come out with a stellar knife for 2018 – the Chinese Year of the Dog.  It might be a Chinese celebration, but the dog on the knife looks more than a little like a Shiba Inu.  So that’s what my mother got me for Christmas.  Happy Christmas/God Jul/Nollaig shona dhaoibh everyone.