Monday, April 15, 2019

What is a good Shiba owner?

My regular spiel is "passive people do not do well owning Shibas".  I do think a person should be somewhat assertive to own any kind of animal.  A passive rider of a 1200 pound horse will soon lose control of the horse's actions correct?  A passive person with a 20 pound dominant female Shiba will also lose control of the dog's actions.  Then it's oops, she slipped her out of her way too loose collar (can't be mean with a chain collar right?) and darted into traffic. One dead dog....not good. Who's in charge now?  Just sadness & regret.

I tend to find myself on the fence about so many important issues but when it comes to dogs my opinions are pretty definitive.  I know I'm an extrovert as I know what I want to convey and I'm confident in expressing it.  However, many times I'd rather be an introvert and let someone else go for it and wait and see if my own opinion can be swayed by a good theory.  Does that mean I am this new thing they call an ambivert?  I think not.  Sometimes I think labels are just a bunch of hog wash anyway.  Shibas taught me that.  A Shiba can be dangerously aggressive toward smaller animals but obliging to a Rottweiler or a giant horse. They can be submissive with their human owner but leathal to another Shiba in the household.  Shibas can be total opposites of the scale on traits based on the danger to themselves......they aren't stupid.

I would say both introvert and extroverts can be good dog owners.  It's more about actions then feelings when you are dealing with animals.  Remember all other animals besides humans live in the moment.  They don't much care about your thought on things or your past experiences. They just know what they want at that moment in time and their goal is to make the stupid human to give it to them.  The rest doesn't matter. There are very few gray areas with animals.  Their decisions are based on instincts of survival even if they aren't in any danger at the moment.  You don't see it as much when you have one or even two pets but when you get packs like we have, it's very obvious if you are at all attentive.

Important thing is you are open minded enough to think like a dog because lets face it, dogs do NOT have the capacity to think like humans.  So that is what I look for in good potential Shiba owners.  It isn't science but science has proven that we have to think on the animals level, thinking like a human is way too confusing for them and if you treat them like little furry humans it won't work for the animal or the human.  That way of thinking always ends badly for both parties.

Shibas are such cool dogs, they aren't like any other animal.  They have tons to teach us stupid humans about the natural world. Things we have long forgotten.  If we will only listen to them.  It is such a gift!  However to keep them safe in this land of humans we need a form of communication to speak to them with.  You must learn it.  If you do this will be the most rewarding relationship of your life and it will definitely change you in ways you can't even imagine.  My sister is always telling me she never thought I would be the way I am now.  I was such a type "A" (for asshole....tee hee).  Now I am relaxed and truly generous with my heart.  The Shibas changed me for the better. It's a gift I can never repay.  There is just no way.

All my animals have taught me things.  I've made a TON of mistakes with my animals and they have all forgiven me.  How generous is that????  When I don't listen to them, shit happens.  Ooops.  I should have listened!  Women are notorious for not following their heart or listening to their instincts.  We always question it when we should just go with it.  It's human nature at work.  Damn it.....I hate when I was right the first time and didn't listen to myself!!!!!

Anyway, owning a Shiba is a learning experience you should not deny yourself if you feel at all drawn to them in any way.  As long as you listen to your breeder's suggestions on care and training you should have a really nice dog.  You pay for their experience so don't believe you know better then they do just because you've owned other dogs in the past.  LISTEN and LEARN.  You will never regret this decision.  If you do, return the Shiba to his breeder and move on.  It's still a learning experience none the less.  Just because you aren't a perfect Shiba owner doesn't make you a bad dog owner.  Life is way to short to have a dog, horse, cat or spouse you can't get along with.  Everyone deserves to be happy so make it happen for yourself.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

I miss my cat Ming sooooooo much.........

The day after a wonderful Thanks Giving at a friend's house our cat Ming howled at me and I knew something was wrong.  We left for the vet right away.  He had crystals for the second time in his life and this time it was too late.  He was already septic when we got him there, he died, alone at the vet.  They actually put him in his crate to get transferred to ER for the night.  He was already dead as we stood at the counter to pay for him. I knew he was dead but I didn't want to say it out loud because it would make it all real. Over $1000 in just under 4 hours. The money doesn't matter.  I would have paid any amount to save him.  Truth is, I'd have traded the life of any one of my dogs if I could and I love my dogs an awful lot. There's a lot more to the story and a lot of things are yet unanswered about why a dead pet was packed up for us but it doesn't seem to matter now.  We're just sad because we don't have our baby cat anymore.  Marcel wants to sleep all the time to avoid thinking of him.  I have run myself ragged, working too much to avoid thinking of him.  I can't sleep at night, I have insomnia and I'm so used to listening to him purr next to my head until I fall asleep.  Ming was my special once in a lifetime heart cat.  I'm so glad I told him every day that he was the most favorite cat I ever had and he knew it was true.  I think he thought I was his mate.  Oh, he loved Marcel too but he was my shadow.  I couldn't sit down without him appearing.  He sat on my shoulder when I typed.  He watched me all the time.  I don't think there will ever be another cat like that for me. 

I'm a big girl and we've lost lots and lots of pets over the years but this one is the hardest since I was young and didn't yet know as much about loss of loved ones and special pets.  I'm usually realistic about the short lives of pet but we usually have the luxury of losing them older so we can say they had a very well loved and well lived life but this isn't the case.

We both feel we let Ming down and I definitely feel our "team" of vets let us down.  There is always guilt involved in any loss.  We feel we were preoccupied with holidays, my father's illness, mother's back surgery and the death of a two week old puppy just 4 days prior.  We should have taken heed of some off things we saw in hindsight.  Guilt sucks.  We even have 3 barn cats but they aren't the same.  I feel bad I don't love them as much.  I want to give them a chance in the house but they're terrible house cats climbing on everything and knocking stuff over......more guilt.

Animals live in the moment.  I'm glad Ming isn't in pain any longer.  I can't wait to see him again one day and tell him how sorry I am that I wasn't more assertive about making him homemade food instead of deadly kibble crap.  He was the only animal we had that refused to eat homemade. I can't wait till I can think of him again and not cry.

We will pick up his cremains on Saturday and bring home his little box to join the boxes of those who went before him.  No animal will ever eat kibble again.  I learned a hard lesson at the expense of my best friend and for that I am very, very sorry.  Please don't make that mistake with your cats and dogs.

This is the last picture I took of Ming sitting behind me while at my computer, making sure he had the prime spot closest  to mommy.
I miss you so much Ming-Ming, say hi to Stitchy for me.
God, please let him sit on your lap sometimes. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Response to a Puppy Inquiry

I could have called this topic post: "The difference between your last Golden Retriever and the Shiba you are now inquiring about" but that was too long.  The person inquiring would like to come look at puppies and choose one. Yep....

Picking a Shiba puppy is a little different than picking a puppy from a larger breed's huge litter because Shibas usually only have 1-4 puppies in a litter, with 3 being average. Usually the breeder will keep one, that leaves two puppies for the 20-30 people on the waiting list.  IF the first two people waiting wanted males there would surely be nothing but females in the litter!  It always seems to go that way. If one male and one female was wanted and that's what was available then that works out IF the personalities match the families. The breeder will usually decide which puppy goes where. It is a good idea to listen to the breeder's advice on puppies as they've seen hundreds and you only see one or two.  I try to follow my list but this is not a Golden by any means.  A person who wants a Golden can pretty much pick any puppy from the litter of 14 and they will GET a Golden. We call them Golden Dumbtrievers and yes, we too have owned one. Goldens are all pretty much the same perpetual puppy till near their end. My best friend breeds Goldens and I love to help her evaluate pups because they are so darned cute and bumbly but they are NOT the breed for us.  An 8 week old Golden is still tripping over his feet with that innocent look on his face while an 8 week old Shiba is wearing horns and an Evel Kneivel costume and leaping from the back of your couch, landing on all fours and racing through the kitchen like his tail is on fire.  Not to be misunderstood about the difference, a Shiba is the 2nd closest canine relative to the wolf and a wolf pup has to move fast in case of danger, let's say fire, while the poor extremely domesticated Golden would just sit there and go up in flames. Duh.

I honestly don't think a Shiba should even be considered a dog as it is in a class of its own.  A cat in a dog suit that acts like a coyote/fox mix.  They learn at an alarming rate so you have to be on your toes NOT to teach them the wrong things.  They are not forgiving like a Golden who apologizes to you if you step on his tail and then must reinforce the fact that you still love him by fawning all over you for the next 10 minutes.  If you step on a Shiba's tail he will surely make sure you never get close enough to him to let that happen again and basically....forever!  Lesson learned the end.  That would be one huge difference between those breeds.  The Shiba will have some of the characteristics of the northern/spitz breeds you've owned in the past.........but ad speed.  The Elkhound, Akita and Mal are all working spitz breeds, the Shiba is in it for himself, to be admired and be waited on, not to do anything remotely looking like work!  HA!  It is your job as the boss to make obedience and manners look like FUN so the Shiba wants to participate.

You have to have a good sense of humor along with a an assertive nature to live successfully with a Shiba or they will embarrass you just for fun.  Also, most of what you read on the internet about them is obviously not written by Shiba owners or people that understand them AND it is outdated.  Modern Shibas are much different then the earlier imports who were very sharp, dominant and unsocial with everyone but their owner and sometimes their owner as well.  Modern Shibas have much better dispositions, they are social, friendly to all and cuddly while still having some classic Shiba character, especially once mature at age 3 when they really settle in and become incredible companions.

Still, Shibas don't do well with passive owners.  They will walk all over you like a high maintenance girlfriend in stilettos.  So it's important to look at one's self honestly and decide if you are willing and capable of changing your life for this dog because trust me, life will change.  Luckily most of the best Shiba owners agree that the Shiba changed their life for the better.  Shibas have old souls and they teach you things about yourself you never knew.  It's really kinda cool.

Every Shiba is different too.  As a breeder, I have had many Shibas over the 25 years I have been involved in this breed.  Each one so different then the last and all very special and dear to me.  I was a very strict disciplinarian with the other breeds of dogs I owned before Shibas came into my life.  Shibas taught me to choose my battles and chill out.  My previous training skills are barely used with the Shiba. I had to learn a whole new way. It's something undescribable.

If you want to visit Shiba puppies that is fine but know that they will be spoken for already.  Good breeders have long wait times for pups opposed to the sad puppy mill & back yard bred puppies who are always readily available and actively seeking homes.  You get what you pay for in this breed so be cautious and buyer beware is always a good motto to remember. 

There are Shiba Meet Up groups ( in Portland and in Seattle where you can meet with other pet owners who would love to share their various stories about adventures with their Shibas. Neutered pet Shibas are different than the intact Shibas you will meet at a breeders home. You can see different colors and compare personalities.  You will see subtle differences in looks, size and behavior in dogs from different breeders and you may even come away with some certainties in the kind of Shiba you want to purchase and from what breeder.

Just make sure you purchase your Shiba from a National Shiba Club of America (NSCA) member as they have the highest standard of care of their dogs, puppies and customers.  People producing puppies that are not a member of the breed's parent club are not members for a reason.......

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Every day I hear people say they treat their dogs "like family" and I understand that it's just a saying....hopefully.  It's mentioned briefly in my website that I am passionate about spreading the truth about animal rights vs. animal husbandry or animal welfare.  Animal welfare is the proper care of companion animals and "animal husbandry" is usually used to describe the humane treatment and care of livestock.  While horses are livestock they are usually kept as companion animals.

As a professional animal trainer I know it isn't fair to treat a horse, dog or cat or any other animal like a human. It confuses them and causes them to become neurotic. So I try to help people remember that the words we use to describe our actions has an impact on others perception of pet ownership and all its legal ramifications. 

The word "ownership" needs to remain in the conversations we have about the animals we keep as pets. If we don't keep this wording then the Animal Rightists like PETA have a perfect spot to move in and lobby our government to change laws that will give animals equal rights to humans!  They are using your donations to do just that. YES! No kidding!  In which case we can no long keep animals as pets because it is considered slavery!  Only with ownership do we have control over the care and containment of our animal friends.

The goal of PETA is to kill all pets and no longer allow animals of any kind to be kept and used by humans in any way.  Wild animals will be left in the wild with no protection.  If they go extinct from poaching so be it.  No meat, fish, poultry consumed by humans or used in the production of consumer products like shoes, etc. No lab rats that save lives. 

People give financial support groups like PETA all the time with funding.  Movie stars endorse PETA. I don't believe these people really understand PETA's final plan for that sweet kitty sitting on your lap, the dogs playing in your back yard, the horses in your pastures or the pet chickens you keep for eggs.

PLEASE google animal rights vs.animal welfare and find out the truth before use the words "pet guardian" or "fur-babies" that were all coined by animal rightist to infiltrate the way we think and describe ourselves and our pets.  Your wording really DOES matter.
It is amazing to me that some people know so little about their breed but will still produce puppies!  Big old no-no.

I have no problem helping someone whom I feel is sincere in learning more so they can produce better dogs and be accepted by their peers and thought of a breeders instead of a puppy mill (PM) or backyard breeder (BYB). 

I meet these people all the time when they inquire about buying a breeding dog from me.  I obviously would not sell them a show/breeding dog with no strings attached.  They would have to learn to show it, make it a champion and then breed the dog under my guidance and then sell the puppies with protective contracts.

This training could go on a long time before I would set this person free amongst the wolves and without the full knowledge that they will continue to learn and produce BETTER dogs than they started with.

Every "breeder in training" starts somewhere and established breeders need to be more kind to these people.  We all started with a pet quality dog we thought was simply the best in the world and we wanted to breed it for various reasons.  Hopefully we see a quality dog at a show and aspire to do better.  Most people will neuter their pets and develop a relationship with a breeder who will help them find a better dog to purchase.  NOT one of their own dogs but a test dog from another breeder.  HA! So funny.

Newbies need mentors.  So many of us are getting up there in age and will retire from show/breeding in the next 20 years.  Who will take over our dogs for us?  Who will show?  Who breed?  Better question is who do "we" want showing and breeding?  People who are clueless?  No.  As the current guardians of our breed we must search for and nurture a new generation of breeders. 

Dog breeders are notorious for scaring the general public away from us. We are the protective coating for our breed. We are wonderful and loving with our dogs but basically suspicious of anybody else who says they want to breed.  That's why so many puppy buyers return to the nice people at PMs & BYBs.  Because they are more than willing to say whatever the buyer wants to hear about how wonderful their dogs are and sure you can have papers and breeder her!  Heck they don't care.  They want the money and say good-bye and good luck.

Dog breeders police their dogs carefully so people don't get a hold of one of their pet puppies or dogs and use it to mass produce in a PM or BYB program.  That's our worst freaking nightmare!

There is so much to learn about the finer points of the Shiba.  The little details that make a truly fine specimen look the way it does and why exactly the PM Shiba doesn't look that way.  It take time studying the whole body of the dog.  Diagrams drawn by Japanese breeders are very helpful and I use them all the time to help people see what I see in dogs they ask me about.

More to come!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I was answering a Shiba inquiry the other day and a lot of things came up for me while I was typing the reply and I want to share some of my thoughts here.   It was mostly about how dog overpopulation is misunderstood by the average pet owner.  I started the reply and wrote this essay which is more a rant and I decided against sending it to it's original destination and thought it was more suitable for my blog so here she is.

The most important thing to consider is this: SOME private and public rescues, animal controls, shelters, pounds, etc. are actually importing dogs from other countries because there is a SHORTAGE of dogs to SELL!  Yes, that's right, a shortage of small, colorful dogs.  Large and black dogs are at a disadvantage so they die just because genetically black is a dominate color.  Sucks to be a black cat or dog, huh?  That's why we always find a black male cat to adopt when we need a new house cat.

HISTORY: In the 80's there was a media campaign about "dog breeders" overpopulating the world with purebred dogs.  It has never been the case that show/hobby breeders contribute to over population.  It was gossip started by PETA and it worked well.  The general public knows little about what the REAL state of animal population is at any time.  I could go on and on but if you google "PETA real agenda" you will find out the truth about what they do and it ain't good!

PETA is the one who started the BS about "You kill a shelter animal every time you buy from a breeder" which is so not true.

Now that we have purebred rescues in place there's rarely a purebred dog at an animal shelter as the rescues bail out the purebreds and even some high percentage mixes that look like purebreds.  

Responsible breeders such as myself have contracts that state their dog should be returned to them in the event the buyer cannot keep it for any reason.  So there are rarely any well bred Shibas in rescue.  We take care of our own and sometimes the messes of other producers as well.

Shiba rescues have many Shibas in need of homes but be aware as you may STILL be supporting puppy mills.  That's right.  There are several rescuers who buy Shibas of all ages directly from puppy mill auctions.  The puppy mills are like "ALL RIGHT!  We makin sales!"  So they breed more shitty Shibas!   It's not really a rescue situation at all.  In my opinion it is a sale and it fuels the PM!  Cheri does NOT approve!  I know there are several trains of thought on this but bottom line is it doesn't stop puppy mills in any way to buy their puppies!  DUH!

I'm sure there are other misguided individuals and rescues buying directly from PM.  I would ask any rescue where the dog originally came from and only take a dog that didn't come from a puppy mill.  You may be thinking you are helping the breed but you would really be helping the puppy mill to bring in new fresh stock to breed.  

There is also a stigma with being a "rescue pet."  I hate calling them rescues as it alludes to something unwanted, mistreated and saved by the white knight!  I prefer to call it helping and animal find his place in the world.  

If you want to adopt a mix or purebred do so but it doesn't make you any kind of hero.  Helping other beings is what most humans do naturally.  You will love whatever dog you get pure or not.  They do all the regular dog things, bark, wag and poop.

If you want to buy a purebred animal you should!  I consider it a wonderful gift to one's self.  Something really special you might only have one or two times in your life.  

If you love pets you will have many of them in your 70 year lifespan.  Don't be sad when they die.  Be happy knowing you gave them the best life you could and they died content in your arms. Amen.

So that is my 2 cents on rescue.  On to the new topic: The definition of the word breeder.
I don't like to use the word "breeder" for anything other than a true-blue, dedicated to the breed, person who shows their dogs in AKC, CKC(Canadian) or FCI competitions.  The rest are millers, producers or pet owners breeding for all the wrong reasons.  It breaks my heart that I am considered a bad person by the uninformed general public for enjoying breeding and showing my beautiful well bred dogs.

I have been involved in training and showing dogs since 1980.  I had my first litter in 1985 and I too was swayed by PETA's media influence.  Back then hobby show breeders used to say "I only breed a litter when I need another puppy to show and to carry on my bloodline."  I said this same thing.  As a result my breeding program took me no where. I couldn't make any progress improving my stock only having a litter every few years.  As I learned about the media sensationalism, etc., and that I too had fallen for it, I changed thoughts and actions.  Now it is my goal to teach other people about the truth about "adoption" and "rescue" and buying purebreds in our country.  

Right now the only really serious overpopulation is in cats and horses.  Cats, well I don't know what will ever happen with that situation.  As long as crazy cat ladies feed the strays they will be healthy enough to breed!  Outdoor pet cats and feral cats kill wildlife and dig up our gardens to poop in. In some parts of the world they have actually cause the extinction of other animals.  It's not cool.

Well bred horses will always demand good money but I see no reason at all why people choose to breed their poorly bred grade mares.  It's just stupid in our current situation.  Then PETA manages to get multiple bills passed that stops horse slaughter in the US and now we have people abandoning horses on public lands to starve all over the country!  These are not wild horses, they cannot revert to the wild, they don't even know how to find water for goodness sake!  

In the last 2 years I purchased (yes, I paid so it's a sale NOT a rescue) 3 horses from the feed lot, also known as a "kill pen" which is where livestock go to fatten up before they are sold by the pound for meat.   One horse went on to be a wonderful mount for a gal, the other I kept for over a year but had to put down because he was dangerous and would never make a good family horse, the last one is in our pasture. He is a Spanish Mustang which a whole 'nother issue.  All of them were slaughter bound to Mexico where US companies can still slaughter horses for human consumption to sell around the world. That's a whole big long story there. 

Last summer we took in 4 kittens. These are the 3 we have left.
I placed one tortie in a wonderful home, the husband cried when he held her the first time. She was the spittin' image of the last cat they had for 21 years. It was so wonderful to see a man who loves his animals and it made me cry too.  My new rule....if you buy a puppy you also get a kitten!  HA!  They are beautiful kitties with wonderful personalities and they love all the dogs!  The didn't deserve to die.  I made a deal with woman I got them from.  I'd take the kittens and find them homes if she would spay the mother and she did but I still have the darned kitties! I love them but they still have to find homes as I don't like cleaning up after 4 cats when I just want to devote myself to the dogs.

I love my Shibas so much and only want the very best for them.  They are my little friends and I just adore them. They are like precious treasure and everything we do revolves around them.  I miss them when I am stuck in the house like right now.  I will hobble to the barn and groom them and love on them and we will all feel so much better.  I watch them run and play in the pasture and think it isn't a bad life for a dog. They eat homemade raw food which makes them lean, mean dog show winning machines!  HA! 
That's all folks.  Whomever reads this.  Here's a picture of some young hopefuls for the show/breeding program.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

OMGosh!  It's been so long!

I can't believe the way time gets away from me.  So much has happened yet so little has changed in the big picture of it all.  I still pick up poop every day.

Georgie, now called Mina, has a wonderful new home with Kellie on Widbey Island.  Hopefully one day I can go up and actually ride her.  That would really be full circle for me.  

As my wise friend Tina B. tells me all the time I manage to find the best homes for the animals in my care.  Many rescues have passed through our lives in the time Marcel and I have had a home together. Sometimes I think I make a better intermediary than permanent home for these animals. 

But we have our share of keepers from the bunch.  I must tell you about the buckskin we rescued.  I wanted to name him Cruz but it just didn't fit so now I renamed him Mateo and I really like that, it fits him perfectly.  He changed several colors.  He was a smutty dun with dapples for a while and I thought that was really interesting since his winter coat was a very light straw color. Then that fell out and he turned a beautiful golden buckskin.  I still haven't saddled him up yet.  I'm trying to put some more weight on his top line.  Probably have to start working him. It's just too darned hot to force myself or any animal to work.  I'm waiting for it to get a bit cooler.

I wonder about the past lives of the animals we've rescued.  Information is usually pretty sketchy and we end up surmising a lot from their behavior.  Georgie seemed to have that Black Beauty quality about her.  Mateo is a strange one he is.  He's spooky around hands, but then he isn't.  I thought a fly mask would terrify him but it didn't at all.  One thing that's consistent is that someone has been mean to them at some point.

WHY?  Why do people have to be mean to animals?  If you don't like its behavior TRAIN it or get rid of it but don't beat an animal for not knowing what you want it to do.  That is so stupid a reaction I just can't wrap my head around it.  Punishment based training used to be perfectly accepted by people but now we know that everyone learns better with rewards.  Punishment is only given when a person knows what they are expect to do or how they are expected to act but they choose to do the wrong thing.  There isn't a lot of scientific fact that animals, besides humans of course, are intelligent enough to choose.  Popular science thinks animals just react in a normal way for their species.  Try to keep that in mind when your pet decides to disobey.  Try it on and see what it feels like.  Are you more forgiving?  Do you think you should enroll in those obedience classes again?  What goes through your mind?

Love your pets.