An Awesome Book… about AKITAS

You may remember the post where I mention that we got something in the mail.  I’ve been spending quite a bit of time perusing this book – because it’s a ginormous resource on Akitas.  The book even has a website.

I must confess something: The first thing I thought and felt was not, “Wow, this book is the definitive book on Akitas!” or “This book is a valuable part of any Japanese dog breed owner’s collection.”  It was more like:

SQUEE!!! I GOT SOMETHING IN THE MAIL!  BECAUSE OF MY BLOG!  I. GOT. SOMETHING. IN. THE. MAIL.  THIS DAY IS AN EPOCH IN MY LIFE.

You know, the kind of mature response that marks me as the serious blogger that I am.

Fortunately for my overtaxed nervous system, this book is everything that Darryl promised and I’m really glad that she introduced me to it.  I’m going to make a few comments on a couple of things (dear Dog, not on the whole book – I don’t have that kind of lifespan):

First of all, Barbara Bouyet, the book’s author, is pretty much the last word on Akitas, from what I’ve read.  I don’t know Barbara, but I found out a little about her at her website Akitas-4-U.com.  She got into Akitas in 1977.  I was born in 1977.  She’s been involved with almost 1,500 Akitas.  I’ve been involved with 2.  Maybe 20 if you count the number of Shibas I’ve goo-gooed at over the years.  I’ve got breed-experience envy like you wouldn’t believe.  Bouyet is also heavily involved with Akita rescue.

Being a Shiba owner, I felt that the information on socializing and training Akitas was good advice.  There’s some sharp stuff in there about Alpha rolls and positive vs. negative reinforcement that I feel is equally valid with either breed.  (Of course the fact that the Akita is a breed that often hits the 100 lb mark is a point well taken.)

I’m not too much into holistic nutrition, although I have a healthy (ha ha, you get it?) respect for the principles.  I feed Tierce dog food that looks like Corn Pops because he does well on it – better than raw, better than Orijen or Go! Natural.  However, the chapters on proper feeding of the Akita and the elements of a good diet were fascinating.  I also paid particular attention to the information about auto-immune disease developing from vaccines, since as some of you know, we have been dealing with Tierce’s problems after his rabies shot in late 2007.

Akita: Treasure of Japan II is the definitive work on the Akita, from history to modern-day issues facing the breed, including rescue, disease and alternative nutrition, including the BARF diet.  ‘Nuff said, because this glowing review has been articulated by better writers than myself.  It is a worthwhile read for dog owners in general for the information it contains about dogs, their behaviour and health.  Go read it.  And go say hi to Darryl of Kari-On Akitas & Shibas, who sent it to me and who is full of awesomeness.

We got something in the mail…

"What? What the fuck is this? A book? I don't read books. About Akitas? Akitas suck! I'm the only goddamn dog you should be concerned with and HELLO, I'm INJURED here! How about you put that Corn Pop crap dog food away along with this stupid book and get me something I can really recover on? Like steak.

The awesome Darryl from Kari-On Akitas sent me this book.  I think a lot more of it than Tierce obviously does and in the ensuing weeks, I will be acquainting you, my readers, with excerpts of its awesomeness.  Thanks, Darryl!

Nicholas, you are… AWESOME

My Nicholas, you are… RIDICULOUS books arrived today! I ordered two; one for a friend and one for me.

There are several reasons why I love this book.  First are the illustrations.  Olena Kassian has fully captured the antics of a Shiba puppy – the expressions, the body language… everything just screams Shiba (no pun intended).

The other main reason I like this book is that, without losing momentum in lecturing or heavy handed this-story-has-a-moral writing, Kassian presents the Shiba as it truly is.  Nicholas digs, he chews, he runs away and he gets dirty.  More importantly, his puppy antics are treated by the narrator as a natural part of owning a Shiba puppy; something to be expected.

Kassian has also included a short homage to the Shiba for more advanced readers at the end of the book.  While her writing there is spot-on, I believe that it is the book itself that most effectively introduces both adults and children to the elusive charm of the Shiba.

(I’m also thrilled that Olena Kassian is Canadian!)

The Nicholas website at http://www.nicholasyouareridiculous.ca/ is not loading, but you can order the book from Amazon.

Dog training lessons from Cache Lake Country

One of my favourite books is Cache Lake Country by John J. Rowlands.  In it, Rowlands reminisces on his first year in the north country, with tips and tricks for the people who choose a solitary life up in the north woods.  In it he also makes mention of the dogs he owns, huskies he calls Old Wolf and Tripper.

Patience and more patience and firm kindness is the secret of training a dog, or any animal for that matter.  You want him to love his work and good sled dogs do.

I think that one of the things that people don’t consider when adding a Shiba to their lives is that it has the attitude, intelligence and ability to work at something and, like huskies and other northern breeds, generally has a better time when it has something it is expected to do.

This doesn’t mean the work has to be serious, like hauling a sled or packing in the 2 pounds that a Shiba could safely carry, but it has to be something that you expect the Shiba to do and do well.  Like Rowlands says, this comes with “patience and more patience and firm kindness”.  “Work” to a dog is something that their owner takes seriously and expects the dog to take seriously likewise.  This could be anything from tracking to just being a good companion.

Rowlands goes on to say:

If you want a good sled dog don’t make a pet of him.  You can be good friends, but a dog that is a pet is almost sure to be spoiled and does not obey as he ought to.  You must earn a dog’s respect and he has to know who is master.

“Pet” in this case refers to a dog that has been allowed its own way and hasn’t been required to do or be much of anything.  Dogs that are allowed to follow their own inclinations to the exclusion of everything else seldom end up in happy homes, as they are constantly trying to exercise their perceived dominance, which puts them in conflict with the humans they live with.

I think that Rowlands makes four good points about dogs and their training.  One, you need patience.  Two, you need to be firm.  Three, you should not spoil your dog and allow him to run heedlessly through life.  Four, you need to consider what your dog does as work and you need to take it seriously, so your dog learns to do so as well.