Monday, May 11, 2020

Shibas in Pandemic

While people are in lock down at home during the pandemic they start thinking about how this would be a perfect time to get a puppy.  AKC informed their members that puppy inquiries are up 65%.  The news tells us shelters and rescues have been emptied out by adopters.  I think there are two perspectives on this.  The first is if we responsible breeders do not provide good quality health puppies to those interested in purchasing one buyers will be forced to buy from puppy mill and back yard bred dogs on line and in virtual pet stores.  The other train of thought is that responsible breeders should only place puppies as planned with people with those who are on their paid reservation or waiting list because everyone else is just bored and looking for pups on a whim and once everyone goes back to school and work the pups will left alone at home or taken back to the shelter or rescue where they came from. 

I don't necessarily think the second perspective is true of all purebred dogs. Usually if someone pays a large amount for something they don't trash it but there is no denying that we live in a vary wasteful culture.  Hopefully we get to know our buyers and know they have given purchasing a Shiba a LOT of thought.  Besides, breeders have agreements that if any of their dogs ever need to be re-homed it should be returned to the breeder.  Buyers SIGN this agreement but do they follow through?

I have had a few people break the rule.  This is after they have jumped through all the hoops to convince me they are ready for a Shiba only to find out they can't deal with it for no fault of the Shibas but the fault of their own over confidence.  They are embarrassed to come back and have to admit it was too difficult or it didn't fit their lifestyle after all or they plain old aren't cut out for a pet.

People say all kinds of things to me that they expect I want to hear.  Those things make me shudder because I know better.

  • I work from home
  • We live near the dog park
  • We plan on using doggie daycare
  • I grew up with dogs
  • I've read everything about Shibas
  • We feel confident and ready for the Shiba temperament
  • I've never actually met one but......fill in all the statements above.

Yikes I say!  I have rebuttals for all those statements that I won't address here.  While all those things might influence the outcome it could never prepare you for the journey through your soul you are about to embark on. 

A lot of it boils down to how well do you know yourself and are you HONEST WITH YOURSELF about your capabilities to own an animal as smart and complex as a Shiba?  Because they do have an evil and mischievous side that is going to test every fiber of your being.  I shit you not.

It doesn't matter where you acquire your Shiba it is still a Shiba.  If you get your Shiba from a rescue you might be told about all the illnesses the Shiba currently has, that he screams and nips at people or other animals when he is scared and that he will take a long time to adjust and trust you, etc., etc.  If you get your Shiba from a breeder they can tell you all about the Shibas healthy background and you can see the good temperament of both parents and how your proper care & training will make him a wonderful family dog.  Both are Shibas and both are extremely intelligent.

This is how a Shiba negotiates the world:

Self preservation is the top priority for a Shiba which means not trusting anything or anyone but themselves until proven otherwise. Running away and/or screaming and biting being the most likely response when stressed, challenged or threatened.  Protecting themselves from other dogs manifests as dog to dog aggression.  He's scared for his safety so he attempts to make the intruder go away by attacking it before it attacks him.  Always just staying out of reach from owners grabbing hands equates to staying safe from the slashing tusks of wild boar. They are extremely fast and agile. Learning by observation and just one or two repetitions means they stay safe and are prepared for the next move.   The aloof and dismissive attitude toward strangers tells us the Shiba does not NEED humans, they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and surviving in the wild, something ingrained in them from thousands of years as a semi-feral village dog in the mountains of Japan.  The Shiba decides to stay with a human family if it sees value in the arrangement, if not, they move on just like a cat.  It will be perfectly clear to you if the Shiba is not happy and is requesting to move on. 

Right now is a bad time to try to meet Shibas but I usually tell people to go to a Shiba meetup group and spend some time with Shibas.  There is nothing like first hand experience with the breed and talking to other pet owners about the complexity of living with one.  Depending on you and whom you finally get your Shiba from it will be a piece of cake OR the most difficult thing you've ever done. The words in articles or books cannot fully explain the experience.  It's all sugar coated.  But that being said, people who own Shibas become completely devoted to the breed.  It is a life changer.  Kinda like surviving a family tragedy and coming out the other side a different person.  I became a better person with a more accepting and understanding nature.  It's a strange thing but I see it over and over with everyone who becomes involved with this breed.  It engulfs your life.  Shibas have lessons to teach us, it's amazing.

So even with the challenges and difficulties this breed it's sooooo worth it.  Most people will be hooked on the breed the rest of their lives and will tell you no other breed will do for them.  A few will say they'd never have another one, it was an awful experience.

I think the first major obstacle for Shiba owners to overcome safety issues.  Can you keep your Shiba alive and in your possession through the puppy & teen stages to the adult stage. Once to they are adults and you have a system for containment and control things get much easier. That is besides the fact that all dogs seem to settle down by 3 years of age. 

Human nature being what it is everyone thinks they can handle a dog.  Humans also like to find out the hard way.  After you have chased your Shiba through the woods for two days or through several lanes of  busy traffic you most likely will not make that mistake again. 

So considering life with a Shiba is a major deal.  Our home, the yards, the barn and small kennel is organized and fenced to manage and maintain our Shibas safely and even so we constantly need to be looking out for the new and exciting ways the Shibas attempt to escape so we are constantly changing our system.  NOT they want to run away per say, we own a large property with plenty of space.  Their goal is always to get into the house and get the 4 delicious meals a day that momma's get when they are raising baby puppies in the kitchen.

There are so many good qualities in the Shiba too.  They're clean, quiet, non demanding of attention, perfect size for a house dog and for traveling with, easy to train (not as easy to make listen), gentle, sweet, they mirror your energy level at home but are always ready for action and adventure.  Once you overcome the more difficult stuff he is a loyal friend that still retains his dignity and independence. They are also just fascinating to observe while they interact with nature.  They make you laugh. What's not to love? Then there is always the cute factor because it's off the freakin' carts!  Like any relationship it takes time, dedication and commitment and it's totally worth it.