Sunday, December 20, 2009

More bacon...

Went out with the same guys as yesterday after a female we figured was still in the area. Took us all day to find her, but we nabbed her at 3pm. She was a monster female at over 100kg. Again the locals were shocked, as were we, and again we took ages to drag her out of the mountain.

I'd post more as the whole day was another interesting story, but I'm seriously tired out. Fridge is already full, so just brought home one huge liver and heart and gave the rest away.

Time to get some serious sleep.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bacon galore

Went out hunting with 2 friends today. Found some monster tracks from a male that just came into the area the night before, most likely in search of females in heat. We took a few hours to stake out the area, then headed in. We took my 3 of my friend's dogs in as Haru's definitely not ready for a big boar yet.

Around 45 minutes in, one of the dogs found him laid up in a bamboo fortress. The other 2 dogs jumped in right away, and less than a minute from when the first dog found the boar, the dogs had him locked down. Since there were three of us, we headed down the ridge with me walking the center. We wanted to make sure this bad boy didn't get away, and decided to block his escape routes.

No worries there, the boar was comfortable fighting where he was (less than 10 meters from where he was sleeping), and it was all over in around 5 minutes. 2 shots fired (by my friend), with one hitting him in the vitals, and we moved in to finish him off.

An excellent good fast hunt that went exactly according to plan, no dogs hurt, and a 130kg+ (friend's scale broke recently, but 2 weeks ago they took a boar that weighed 132kg and this one was apparently much bigger) boar down. Getting the boar was the easy part. We spent 2 hours getting him down the mountain, and another 3 and a half butchering it. He was so big we had to get help to deal with the moving/butchering. He was a seriously fat pig, and seeing as all the pigs we've seen in the area recently are, it looks like there's plenty of good eating around. The local hunters that came to help were shocked at the size of this guy, apparently they don't see many this big around there. Judging by the footprints though, I think I've seen larger ones further south.

Now I've got a freezer and fridge full of meat, and am trying to think of all the different ways to cook it. Tried a few slices off the rump fried in salt and pepper, and it was really good. I thought being a male and that big the meat would be a bit tough, but it was pretty much the same texture as store bought pork but with a little bit more flavor.

Heading out again tomorrow after a smaller female who's tracks we also saw this morn.

Got some good training in for Haru and Baron today as well. A small pig was caught in a box trap nearby, and one of the local hunters told me about it. I took them in one at a time to see their reactions. Baron went charging right at him barking, got a little scared when the pig charged toward him, but picked right up again afterward. As usual I barked along with him :) Haru was a lot more cautious, and opted to stand safely behind me barking at the caged pig. Was excellent to see where they're both at, and I'm going to work to slowly get them where they need to be to hunt pigs as safely as possible. Took some video today, so when I get around to it I'll post again.

Here's some low quality pics off my mobile of the boar.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Sake

Went to a 'Bo-nen-kai' which is basically a year end party to close out and 'forget' ('Bo'=forget,'Nen'=year) the past year. I was invited to this one by a Shikoku breeder, and thought it was supposed to be a small 5-6 person deal. Was roundly surprised when I arrived and there were over 30 guests. Apparently the party is held every year by this group of Nippo breeders, so they're all Nihonken people, a couple Nippo judges and board members. Also met an ex Akiho (Akita Hozonkai) judge there.

The food was great, company was too, and the alcohol was excellent. Recently I haven't been getting 'buzzed' off alcohol, it just seems to run through my system and not do much. It's not pleasant cause if I don't get anything out of it, why the hell am I drinking. Well, really went after the Nihon-shu, and finally got my kick. When everyone was heading to bed (we were staying over night at a 'Ryo-kan') I went out to walk the dogs. I brought them with me as I planned to hunt in the area the next day.

After walking them, getting back inside and crawling under the futons, I could hear the sounds of the waves crashing (we were on the beach), and the wind howling. Every now and again I could here what sounded like a dog howling too. The only thought on my mind was, 'Please don't let that be Baron.' I got dressed, headed out to the car, and sure enough Baron was wailing. I took the pups out of their crates (I've got the back of the jeep all set up for the dogs and hunting gear) walked them again, and got them back in the car. Nothing doing, Baron started wailing again. Funny, as usually he's fine being crated in the car as long as Haru is there too.

So, I ended up curling up in the front and spending the night there. Good thing I always have my sleeping bag packed in with the hunting gear. Come dawn, I got up and headed over to my hunting spot. After getting all my gear and Haru ready, I noticed I was still a bit buzzed. Figured I'd be okay after walking a bit, so I tried that and got around 15 minutes in before I gave up. Alcohol was definitely still there, and definitely not a good idea going traipsing through the mountains like that.

Had some breakfast, took a nap, and started heading home. Figured I'd stop by my usual hunting area on the way back and take a look. Even by Sunday standards, it was pretty nuts. There were 2 big hunting 'groups' out in the same area. One was just leaving though, and asked if I'd seen 2 of their dogs. I'd see a few earlier up the mountain, so told them where to look. They were hunting mixes, and these hunters don't use radio collars or gps. Kinda makes it hard to find all your dogs at the end of the day.

With that many people running around, I decided to stay out of it, and drop by my local hunter friend's house. He was out hunting, but his kids surrounded the car and wanted to play with Baron again. So we hung out playing with the kids till their dad got back. Baron did great, and the kids all took turns holding/running around with him. When their dad got back we talked for a while, and it turns out they had a small pig that had been trapped earlier in the day. It was already dead and bled, just waiting to be dressed and dropped into the freezer. I asked if it was okay to show Baron his first pig and see his reaction, and he agreed.

At first Baron took a few whiffs and wanted to get away from the pig, but I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity. I started grabbing at the pig, making growling sounds, barking, and shaking it much to the amusement of all the 5 or 6 hunters standing around watching. My friend used to hunt with Kai, but while they were good dogs and had a lot of drive, they didn't have the skill to actually stop the pigs long enough for him to get there. Apparently he hunted with them for 4 years before switching to the dogs he has now which are 'Ji-inu' (local hunting mixes). He really likes Kai, but naturally his experiences hunting with Nihonken leave him a little biased.

He's been trying to sell me on his dogs for a while (he doesn't want me to waste 4 years like he did with dogs that don't cut it), and he started talking about how the pups from this line of Ji-inu will latch on to pigs at 3 months. Just as he said that, and I was looking up at him, Baron attacked the pig, and started biting its rear legs, growling and barking. It was like a switch turned on somewhere, in a flash he was all over the pig, running around it barking, picking spots to bite and tug on. All the other hunters stopped laughing at me, and were very impressed with him. He's 2 months old and this was the first pig he's ever seen or smelled. Me, I was thrilled relieved and feeling very proud. Looks like Baron has the 'pig gene'.

So, Baron's started on the path to becoming a pig hunter. I would have filmed or taken shots of him, but it was already dark out and couldn't get it on cam this time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Hunting Debate

I see myself as a fairly educated 'ethical' person. At first glance I definitely don't look like the stereotypical outdoorsman/hunter. Pretty much everyone I meet that finds out I hunt goes into a mild shock like state. I'm definitely on the small thin side of the scale (all it takes is a good typhoon gust to send me on my way to China), and I definitely don't dress the part. Most people expect I would be on the other side of the spectrum, defending helpless animals from the big bad hunter.

I'm big on 'eco-friendly' stuff, want to build a house that is totally energy self sufficient, and grow my own food. I've loved animals since I can remember, and owned all sorts of pets and strays growing up. I'll probably post all my thoughts on the hunting debate at some point, but to be honest I don't always feel I've got it all figured out. I found a great post on Treehugger.com that encapsulates a lot of my opinions on the subject, so I'm posting a link to it here.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/11/hunting-fishing-hypocrisy.php

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For Fun

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Cellphone pic sux, but too cute to pass up. Both tuckered out from a day in the mountains and the obligatory shower afterwards.

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Haru sporting her Garmin Astro collar.

Pigs 5, Human 0

So, 5 trips this year and no pigs. It would most definitely be easier to hunt without Haru at the moment. Of course it's enjoyable to have a partner, but I'm pretty much out there to train her, and so the hunting suffers a bit. Just got to stick with it.

Rustled up a sow today with 4 large piglets, tried to get Haru onto them, but she didn't realize they were there and was too busy with some other scent. They got down the gulley and up the other side, so I figured I might as well take the shot. Around 80-90 meter shot, had one of the piglets broadside and had the time to get a good look, and I missed. Haru was oblivious to the whole situation, even though the pigs ran nearly past her. I had some fun and tracked the pig family for a while, nice to see what extremely hot tracks look like.

There was a lot of pig activity in the area, fresh tracks and tilled fields everywhere, but those were the only pigs we found. They were sleeping in a bamboo thicket at the top of an embankment 30 meters away from where I parked the jeep. Took me walking in a 2km loop to find them though... was just getting back to where I could see the jeep and bam. Wish there was a shooting range in the prefecture where I could actually fire slugs/shoot at targets etc. The last governor we had here was a liberal who wanted to ban all hunting/firearms in the prefecture. So she started off slowly by closing down the main shooting range. There are only two others, and they have limitations on what you can fire.

Left the pups in the car for a bit and hiked up to where a trapper has bait out for pigs. It attracts a lot of birds, and I was thinking maybe I could tag another pheasant. I hunkered down and a few minutes later I see a big bushy tail bounding toward me. Cute little squirrel carrying some sort of nut that was nearly as big as he was. I don't think he even saw me, as he got to within 2 meters and climbed the tree next to me. He just sat up there munching away.

Didn't see any pheasants, but saw a bird that I hadn't seen in Chiba before, Bamboo Partridges. I didn't know there were any here, but now I know exactly where they are. They're actually an introduced species, but are on the list of huntable birds. I figure they probably make good eating, and I would have taken a few but wasn't sure if they were on the 'list' till I got home and checked.

Have showered the dogs, picked off the ticks (white dogs are great!), and gotten everyone tucked in for bed. If I had my way I'd be off in the mountains again tomorrow. Alas I have things to do, and life cannot be all play and no work.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Japanese Blog

So I've thrown together my Japanese blog. It'll mostly serve as a hunting/training blog.

http://ameblo.jp/bososhishi/

Update

Went hunting again the day before yesterday. All the tracks we could find were from at least 2-3 days earlier. Tried my 2 favorite areas (which most years no one hunts), but found nothing new. Even went to my pheasant spot at the end of the day to pick up another bird, but the pheasant were gone too.

Just as I was driving out of the area, I saw a gentleman walking down the road in his hunter orange. I asked him if he was after birds or pigs, and wonder of wonders, he was after pigs. Asked if I'd seen any, and I told him all the tracks were old. He told me that during the 3 day weekend the whole area had been shredded up by a large group of hunters with over 10 dogs. They'd only taken 1 pig, but I think they frightened the crap out of everything in the entire area. Wish I had known before I spent the whole day looking.

So no pigs or birds anywhere to be found. They probably all retreated further back and away from civilization. Will need to range farther in next time I think. Will definitely be a few days before they come back to the area. Good news is I've gotten very friendly with one of the local hunters, and it looks like he'll be able to help me out a lot with training the pups. I dropped by his house at the end of the day and got a peek at his 20 or so dogs. He's even got a Kai in there, but it's trained for bird.

Haru is getting more and more stamina, even at the end of the day she's still raring to go. I guess all the work over the summer getting her in shape is really paying off. Still, trying to take it easy on her as she's still young and growing. Lots of breaks during the day, and a few days off between hunts at the moment.

Baron's ears are totally up, he's getting bigger by the day. He's still peeing everywhere in massive amounts. I don't expect too much out of a 2 month old pup, but he's a bit crazy in this regard. Took him out yesterday to the middle of Chiba city to get used to the sights and sounds. All the people around didn't phase him one bit, and he loved all the attention. Trying to get all the socialization in on a Kishu pup is a must in my opinion, the next thing to work on is dogs. He loves playing, but every once in a while we've met dogs that he didn't seem to like. Hopefully we can work through this and not have it turn into anything problematic.

Last night we had a late thanksgiving dinner over at a friends house. Awesome food, great company, what more could you want! It was all good till we got home and realized what the pups had been up to. The bedroom was a bit of a mess, and Baron had peed on the bed. I've crate trained some of my dogs in the past, but most have done fine without being crated. He seems like he may need the crate. Will ponder this over the next few days. Wife was not happy about some of the things he chewed up last night.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Kai Ken standard

I just typed up an email to a friend looking to export Kai to give a brief history of the Kai breed, and explain the reason most Kai are not registered with the Nihon Ken Hozonkai and the JKC. In the hopes that it is informative and useful to others looking to own Kai overseas, I'm posting it here.



'As far as the history of the Kai in Japan (most of this is based on research, but I've added my own opinions as well), like all Japanese breeds the ancestors of the Kai are thought to have been brought over thousands of years ago by the Jomon, and later the Yayoi people. Due
to Japan's geographic and political isolation, there was not much inter breeding with dogs from the continent. Of the Japanese breeds Kai, Hokkaido, and Ryukyu carry more of the genetic make up of the original dogs brought over by the Jomon. This can be almost completely contributed to geographics.

Many of the legends surrounding the formation of the Japanese breeds involve cross breeding with, or direct descendance from wolves, and though not 100 percent certain, some genetic tests have seemed to support these legends. The Kai originated in modern day Yamanashi prefecture, which used to be known as 'Kai no Kuni' (the country of Kai) and like all the Japanese breeds (other than the Shiba) they were named after the area they were found.

As Japan opened up to the outside world, traders brought dogs with them. In many cases these dogs were systematically bred with the native dogs, as in the case of the Akita and the Tosa. The interbreeding was so widespread that in the early 1900s moves were made to try and save the remaining 'pure' native dogs. The mood in the country at the time was leaning toward ultra-nationalism, and the government actively encouraged the preservation of all things
Japanese. Teams scoured the country to find the 'best' 'pure' dogs. Thus began the classification of the Japanese breeds (and the breed standards).

The Kai is often cited as being the most 'pure' of the Japanese breeds. This is mostly due to Yamanashi being extremely back country and mountainous, making it difficult for outsiders to enter the area. The Kai Ken Aigokai (Kai Ken Protection Society) was established in 1931, and the first Tenrankai (exhibition) was held in April the following year. In November of the same year the first Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Japanese Dog Preservation Society) Tenrankai was held in Ginza, Tokyo. Of 81 dogs shown, 17 were Kai. The breed was given Natural Monument status in 1934. The rift between the Kai Ken Aigokai and Nihon Ken Hozonkai began when Nippo (Nihon Ken Hozonkai) classified all the Japanese breeds into 3 sizes, small, medium and large. The Kai was grouped in the medium category along with the Shikoku, Kishu, and Hokkaido.

After World War 2 began Nihon Ken numbers, including the Kai's, were depleted due to food shortages, and in some cases laws banning the ownership of dogs. Owning a dog during the war was considered unpatriotic which is ironic as the original move to preserve the Japanese breeds was championed by the ultra-nationalist government as patriotic. Again due to geographic isolation, the Kai did not suffer as much as the other Japanese breeds, and thanks to avid supporters
the breed was revived after the war.

The disagreement between the Aigokai and Nippo was mainly over size. The Kai did not conform to the measurements of the medium standard as set by Nippo. Slightly larger than the 'small' Shiba, they do not conform to the 'small' or 'medium' standard, ending up somewhere in between. The Aigokai standard calls for a height of 40-50 centimeters, with the Nippo 'medium' standard set at
51cm for males (give or take 3cm), and 49cm for females (give or take 3cm). The Aigokai was set on preserving the Kai as it was, without breeding to manipulate size to conform to the Nippo 'medium' standard. There was also a disagreement regarding the black tongue markings that almost all Kai have. According to the Nippo standard black markings on a dog's tongue is a flaw, and in the ring counts for a point deduction. A few years ago Nippo finally changed this rule, and the Kai is no longer docked points for tongue markings.

Due to these disagreements (and possibly other politics) Aigokai members stopped showing their dogs at Nippo events, and does not allow their Kai to register with other canine registration organizations. Any Aigokai Kai registered with another organization loses its Aigokai registration. Due to this, there are very few Kai registered with Nippo, and it is very difficult for them to do well in Nippo events due to size constraints (and until recently, tongue markings). There is a small group of Kai registered with Nippo, but the smaller gene pool and their larger than average size leave something to be desired. I have heard on occasion of Kai that do not do well showing at the Aigokai events due to size or other issues, switching to Nippo registration to compete in their events (less competition).

One stickler born of all this is that the Japan Kennel Club (JKC) which is the recognized national canine registry, only allows registration of Nippo Kai, and not Aigokai Kai. So, anyone looking to export and register their Kai with an overseas canine registry can have problems getting Aigokai papers recognized. It is easier to export a Nippo Kai and get JKC papers, but due to the aforementioned reasons is not necessarily in the breed's best interest.

It may seem I'm a little biased as a member of the Aigokai, but the Aigokai does have the vast majority of registered Kai. A larger gene pool to breed from, and maintaining the breed as it was originally found is what a breed preservation society should be doing. The day Nippo changes its Kai standard to allow the breed to be what it was and is, I'm sure Kai fanciers will be more than happy to show and register their dogs with Nippo.'



This is all based on what I've researched, been told, with some of my opinions thrown in, so some of this may not be 100 percent accurate. If anyone has any other information to add, or anything to correct, feel free to comment.

The Ears

And the ears are up. Guess my mobile doesn't take such bad photos after all. It's just a pain waiting 5 seconds for it to snap a shot.

Had fun yesterday at the park again with Baron/Haru/Sonny and the in laws. But dang it's getting cold. And could it please stop raining?

Baron's weighing in at 5.7kg

On a side note, I'm starting a blog in Japanese, but I can't think of a title. Any ideas?


TS3M0034

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tweet tweet

Decided to go hunting today, but got a bit of a late start. Didn't help that someone decided to whiz in front of the living room bookshelf. Had to move the whole darn thing.

Had around 3 hours before sunset, so decided to check out a new area for next time. What I found: lots of bamboo. Found a few wallows, but they hadn't been used in a while. Finally found fresh tracks, but they headed off into a bamboo filled ravine. I'll deal with that spot someday when I feel like punishing myself.

One of the landowners in an area I hunt asked me for a pheasant this year, so at the end of the day I headed over to the pheasant coop and nabbed one in around 2 minutes. Walking up to where I figured they'd be, a male pheasant flew directly over my head. I watched him land, headed to to the spot, and ended up flushing 6 pheasants. Had two bird shot loaded, missed with the first, nailed 1 with the second. Happy landowner.

Haru's looking great charging around the mountains, trim, fit, and her coat that was damaged a few months ago is growing back in nicely. Baron's ears are 80% standing. He's settling in nicely, is doing great with people, loves everyone. Now if we could get him to turn off the fire hose, the boy whizzes like no one's business. Seriously.

Well tomorrow the wife and I are off to look at some houses. Hopefully we'll find a bigger place further south (thanks baby) where I can own more dogs (maybe baby?). Fingers crossed, as it's going to take a lot of luck to find a place where we can have multiple dogs and cats (Hunting dogs and man eating cats at that). We also have an occasionally sober paratrooper brother-in-law (congrats on the wings btw) that drops in to make sure I'm never low on beer.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yesterday

Well not much to post. Baron's growing, ears are rising, he still pees like a fire truck. Haru has been a bit over the top excitable since Baron arrived, reacting to every sound and always wanting to play, but she's calmed down since hunting season started.

So yesterday, the weather report was rain, but we headed out to the mountains anyway. Weekday, so didn't see another hunter all day. Last Sunday we found a lot of pheasant in an area I hunt a lot, so took some bird shot. Headed to the spot, within 5 minutes flushed a male pheasant (females are protected), one shot and done. A bit too easy. I'm not a big fan of bird hunting. Pretty much all birds are in some sort of trouble here in Japan, habitat destruction and all that. I'd much rather go after the ever increasing pigs.

I plucked and bled the pheasant right off, but didn't finish off the gutting. Got lazy, and wanted to head to a new spot and see what the area was like. In hindsight I shoulda known better. Checked the new area, it's where the last deer and boar in Chiba prefecture holed up in the 60's and 70's and now I know why. Unclimbable vertical rock faces, and the spots you can get up are covered in slippery moss and mud. The whole area is covered in these little plateaus, you get up to the top and it's virtually flat. I guess it's relatively easy to hunt if you've got a few people. Just cover all the escape routes and send a few dogs in. Nasty and dangerous getting up there though. Was there for a couple hours and headed back to more familiar territory.

I figure on opening day the pigs were bothered by so many people in the mountains, there were a lot of tracks, a lot of movement. Hard to tell where they were now. Didn't find anything fresh till the very end of the day, and I was tired, and the rain was pouring. Didn't sleep for more than an hour the night before since our cats were going nuts.

Haru is growing by leaps and bounds in the mountains. Whereas she used to stay directly in front of me (or behind in thick underbrush) she now runs circular patterns around me. When she finds something interesting she'll go check it out and then come back to check on me. She seems to be growing in confidence and doesn't freak out looking for me the moment she can't hear me crashing through the underbrush. All this running around means she's covering more ground. She does nearly double what I do. I did 10km and she did around 19km according to the GPS. I try and let her have a few days off between hunts to rest and heal as she's still young. I was worried she might be doing too much, but even after the 19 she was raring to get out of the car and run.

Baron is interesting to watch. I think I'm gonna have my hands full with this tyke. He's confident, very stubborn, and has an extremely high prey drive. One whiff of the pheasant and he was struggling to get at it. He's quite vocal as well, making noises for just about everything. Going to have to make sure I keep him in check as he grows. I exchange a lot of mail with 'Nolly', the hunter that gave him to me, and he's been warning me to nip the little things in the bud. Kishu males can be pretty testy.

Well no pics or video today. I returned my sister-in-law's Nikon, and my mobile was out of battery so no shot of the pheasant. I brought it home, and though I was originally taking it for Thanksgiving dinner, decided to cook it yesterday. Mashed potatoes, whole pheasant baked in cream of mushroom with bacon strips. Was pretty good, but the not gutting it right away left it with an ever so slight gamey tang. Only chewed into one bit of bird shot, managed to get the rest out. I took video of the pheasant, but have no interest in posting a boring shot of a dead bird. Just took the shot to record size, date, and place I took it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Moving Pictures

Since it's nasty weather today we haven't gone hunting. Some hunters we are!

Took the time instead to upload a short video of Baron, and another of the doggy date we had the other day with my wife's older sister and her family.





I'm thinking about starting another blog in Japanese... but I'm afraid I'll end up spending too much time posting online and not enough with the pups!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Open season

November 15th, first day of the hunting season. We had a stretch of pretty bad weather the previous few days, consisting of rain and typhoon like wind. Come the morning of the 15th everything had cleared up and it was humid and hot.

I got up just before dawn, gave the dogs a quick walk and then packed them into the jeep. I'd already gotten everything ready the night before, so we were off. As we drove south the horizon lit up in a beautiful red, and with the warm breeze blowing through the window it was all perfect. On the way down I saw several cars packed with hunters, all out of towners, and no one with any dogs. Most likely they were all meeting up for some group hunting.

Hunting with guns in Japan is allowed from sun up till sun down, to the minute actually. We arrived at our spot right on time, and just after I pulled over, a Pointer came bounding down the road. The locals were already out and about, and in the first 30 minutes I ran into 3 other hunters. All were after pheasant and yamadori. I regretfully told them that I haven't seen a bird in the area all year, and sure enough none of them found any. Apparently the bird numbers have dropped as the boar numbers have soared. Not sure if there's a connection there.

After we tucked Baron into his crate, Haru and I were off. 12 gauge strapped to my back, Garmin GPS in hand and decked out in hunter orange, this was one day I was not going in the mountains looking like anything other than a fluorescent don't shoot me sign. Haru looked like a serious hunting dog with her new GPS collar. The Garmin Astro 220 I had ordered arrived 2 days earlier, and after tweaking the maps a bit I was pretty impressed and a bit anxious to give it a spin.

Haru and I have been working pretty well together recently, and have gotten pretty lucky about finding boar. Or at least getting close. Around 5 minutes in, she found our first of the day in a marsh to our left. It was probably getting its last bit of eating in before heading to bed. Haru was around 30 meters ahead of me and did her usual 'point' before getting all excited. I think my performance last time we saw pigs rubbed off on her, because this time she went charging down after it. All I saw of the pig was its rear end disappearing into the bush. I called Haru off, as she was probably not going to have much luck stopping a pig on the run like that.

We trudged on another 2 km to where I figured the pigs would be sleeping. The closer we got the more fresh pig signs we saw. Having the GPS was great, I could see exactly where Haru was every time she disappeared to check out something. We came to the top of the southeast facing ridge where the tracks were headed and I thought the pigs would be bedded down, but nothing. I marked the spot on the GPS for next time, and we started down the ridge. Around 50 meters down I saw Haru freeze to my right. A few seconds passed before she went charging in.

I counted 4 large pigs coming out of the nest. They didn't seem to be in much of a hurry, and one of them wheeled toward Haru and charged. She dodged it and came running back toward me. The boar saw me and charged. He got to within 5 meters before I fired. He rolled once, wheeled around, and took off downhill. I had hit him, but probably not anywhere it counted. First shot I'd fired at a moving target since last season. I went to go after him, but Haru wanted nothing of it. Stupid me, I'd gun broken Haru when I first got her, but hadn't taken her to the shooting range in around 4 months. She was uphill behind me, around 30 meters back, and didn't want to come down.

In typical Nihonken fashion, she decided she was going back to the car. I wanted to look for the boar, as I hate to leave wounded animals out there, but as I looked at the GPS I could see Haru back tracking. She does this sometimes when she decides it's time to go home, and I'm always amazed at her sense of direction. We'd done a U loop to get up to the boar nest, so I figured I could head downhill and look for the boar, and cut off Haru at the bottom of the ridge before she got back to the car. It's hard to find animals in extremely dense forests like we have here in Chiba, and I wasn't having any luck, but I could see Haru making her way back to the jeep.

I was just getting to the bottom of the ridge, when I saw Haru start heading back to the boar nest. It wasn't very pleasant realizing I had to claw my way back up there, but another chance to look for the boar. All in all we looked for him for a good hour and a half, but his trail disappeared after a while. We went back to the car and let Baron out for a meal and a bit of play. I used the chance to gun break Baron a bit. The first shot he perked up and looked around, but then when right back to playing through the second. Doesn't seem we'll have a problem there. Haru was fine okay with it, but for the rest of the day she'd look at me funny when I'd take the gun off my back.

As we were taking our break, and I was half naked trying to dry my sweat drenched clothes, one of the local hunters came by with his Setter. We talked for a while as Haru and the Setter played around. Turns out the pigs had come down, crossed the valley and headed up the other side. He asked if I'd seen any birds, and again the answer was no.

I decided to try another area, as boar tend to clear out after hearing gun shots. At the next spot we found a lot of fresh boar tracks, so I isolated a ridge where I figured they'd be bedded down, and we were off. As we were clawing our way through a bamboo filled area, I noticed some fresh dog tracks, and soon enough a dog popped up to my left. He loved Haru, and wouldn't leave us, so we kept trudging on. We picked up another hunting dog on the way and I as all the dogs were hunting together, I had my very own pack. They were all 'Ji-inu' which are basically local hunting mixes, but they all tend to have the same look to them. The only thing I was worried about was the fact that there were obviously other hunters in the vicinity, so I started whistling as we trudged along.

I wanted to get out and back to the car. No use in taking chances with other hunters that I don't know around. I reached for my GPS, and it was gone. Somewhere back in the bamboo I had dropped it. So of we went, back tracking and praying that I'd be able to find my new $500 gadget. Miraculously I found it. I was actually pretty shocked when I saw it lying there.

Well the GPS was back in hand, but I still had these other dogs. I decided the hunters were probably at the top of the ridge, so figured I'd return the pups. After a bit of walking around up top, we found them, and they turned out to be a big hunting group. The main guy was a local, and as we talked dogs I discovered he used to hunt with a pack of Kai. They were good dogs, but apparently trying to stop boar with baying dogs was really tough, and a few years back he switched to hunting with Ji-inu. I've been hearing this about Kai a lot recently.

Well we found no pigs in the area, and at the end of the ridge we found out why. A trapper had taken 6 pigs in one box trap that morning. Hence the missing pigs. I moved to another spot for the last round of the day, and Haru ended up finding more pigs/piglets which she got really excited about and chased a fair distance. She wouldn't come back, so I thought she might have caught one of the smaller ones. I got out to where she was, but the pigs were already gone, with little tracks going everywhere. Haru ran around frantically trying to find them for a bit before we headed back toward the car.

During that last round, the GPS sent out a 'low on battery' warning which freaked me out as Haru was off chasing pigs. Funny how quickly I became attached to this gadget. I don't think I'd even want to think about hunting without it now. That's how amazing it is. Anyone out there interested in hunting, or just running your dogs off leash, get a Garmin Astro. Enough said.

We headed through some pretty harsh terrain to get back to the car, and ended up going through an area where I took a pig last year, and some pheasants as well. There were pig tracks and droppings everywhere, but as luck would have it we rustled up some pheasants instead. No use trying to hit them with slugs.

That was it for the hunting. We didn't take anything home, but it was great fun to be out there, and to see how Haru is maturing was amazing. She's still a pup (and all to often I forget that), and as I mailed a friend about the day he gave me an eye opening reminder that I'm putting her into situations that she can't win, and that if I'm not careful she could get turned off to hunting pigs. Really made me think, and I'm trying to plan some more training to get her some good experiences on pigs.

One amusing thing, as I was walking down the road after round 2, a car slowed down and the driver was a jolly old fellow who started talking to me. He was collecting wild mushrooms, and he looked at Haru and asked if I was hunting boar. I said yes, and he said, "Is she that famous dog?" I didn't know what he was talking about, so replied, "No, she's just a Kai." He trailed off after that and I couldn't catch what he was saying, but he said something about the internet and some "tube" at the end, after which he drove off. After thinking about it for a moment, I realized he was talking about Youtube, and Haru's videos. We ran into him again later on in the day, and we had a good chuckle about the odds on him seeing Haru on the net, and then just stumbling across us hunting in the mountains.

All in all a great day, and there was more to everything, but this post is already long enough so I'll save it for later. There are no pics or vid from the day as I was in 'serious' mode. Maybe next time.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ears

What a difference a few days makes. Baron's ears are half up already.

Personally I enjoy dogs a lot more once they're adults, but the puppy phase has its perks. Watching the little tykes grow is amazing.

Not the best picture, but I just took a quick snap to show you what his ears are up to today. I've been borrowing my sister-in-laws Nikon for the past few weeks, and probably should return it soon.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The White Terrorist

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Yesterday was my wife's day off and it coincided with her older sister's. Her sister has 3 young kids and a Golden Retriever pup, so we figured it would be a good opportunity for all involved to get some socializing in.

It was an overcast but unseasonably warm day yesterday as we dragged ourselves out of bed, nursing hangovers from yakitori and karaoke the night before. We grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way, with Baron crying in his crate like someone was killing him with a spoon. After the long trip up here from Kyushu, he seems to have an issue with being crated in the car.

We got to the park and found everyone right away. Tall gaijins with multiple toddlers and a retriever pup tend to stand out in Japan. My sister in law's husband is a good friend of mine, we go way back and used to play basketball together.

First introductions went relatively peacefully, but Sonny the retriever hasn't made any canine friends yet and the white terrorist Baron decided he wanted to play. Nihonken play is a loud wild mouthy affair, and it took all of a few moments for Sonny to decide he wanted to hightail it back home.

Haru on the other hand was fine after hello. She tends to read other dogs pretty well, and is not interested in dogs that aren't interested in playing with her. The start of the day basically consisted of tiny Baron attacking Sonny from every conceivable angle in an attempt to get a reaction. Sonny spent most of the first hour pretending to sleep while Baron climbed all over him.

The day went extremely well though. Sonny came out of his shell toward the end, the kids are great with dogs and had great fun with Baron. Haru learned to fetch balls after watching Sonny a few times. Pretty happy about this as I wanted to get her interested in something other than hunting when we're out. It was a great doggy date, and we'll have to do it again soon. Socialization is key for any dog, but for Japanese breeds (who already have a rep for being stand offish) and especially hunting dogs, it is a must.

So here's a few pics from the day. I've got a bit of recent video piling up, but it takes so much more work to upload...

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Sleeper

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So I've started on the road toward building my pack.

We'll have to see how this works out, but for now the plan is to utilize the best traits of each dog I end up with. Till the end of January it will be just Haru and I, but Baron should be able to make it out there with us for a bit of training for the last 2 weeks of the season.

Haru is very intelligent, but cautious. She has excellent problem solving skills, speed, and stamina. She also seems to have a pretty good nose, and a lot of drive as far as 'finding' goes. I'm hoping that she'll end up being my lead dog (or finder), and bay the pigs up till the other dogs get there.

There is a major monkey wrench in my plan at the moment. Haru is a very quiet dog, hardly ever barking. Up till now we've mostly done tracking/following boar to their nests, but we'd only once gotten there while the pigs were still home. She gave chase, but came back right away. Not a bad start I was thinking. Problem was, she didn't bark at all.

I've been wanting to get her to either a training facility with a training pen, or borrow a freshly trapped (caged) boar to see her reaction. So far this hasn't worked out.

This past week, the morning after I got back from Kyushu, I took Haru to the mountains. I tried to use some of the tricks/tips I'd gleaned from the hunters down south, and it seemed I had lucked onto the right spot. There were fresh boar marks and uprooted areas from the night before, and I had a guess as to where they were sleeping.

We got there, and it looked like they had been bedded down, but were already hoofing it. We started heading toward the next ridge, but Haru seemed intent on going down to the bottom of the ridge toward a stream. I followed, and we got around 50 meters downhill with Haru around 10 meters to my right. She stopped and was just staring in full alarm mode, so I was curious as to what she was looking at. Walked over quietly beside her and looked downhill and lo and behold a 50-60kg boar was sitting there staring back at her.

The pig was 10 meters away trying to scent us, but there was a crosswind. Very magnificent looking animal. Haru and the pig continued to stare at each other for around 20 seconds. All the while I was trying to encourage her to chase or bark or anything, but she just stood there staring. If the season up here in Chiba was open, we would have been taking home some bacon. The pig actually moved a meter or so closer to us, then went broadside. I almost laughed cause I felt like it was taunting me. I swear it knew I couldn't take him.

So after a bit of this standoff, I figured I'd just have to show Haru how it's done. Yup, I started chasing the pig barking at the top of my lungs. Haru looked at me for a second then got the idea and took off after the pig with me. Only after running a few meters downhill did I realize that there were more pigs there. One was actually even closer to Haru's right than the one I saw.

Haru and I chased them aways up into a bamboo covered area, and then I called her off. The pigs obviously wanted the last laugh, with one of them sitting up at the top of the ridge snorting at us till we left.

Good news, we found pigs, and after my Oscar nominated hunting dog impression, Haru gave chase. Bad news, no barking. Big monkey wrench.

Will have to see if we can sort this issue out.


Today we headed out to an 'Imonikai' (boil-potato-get-together), which is basically a big pot of soup with meat/potatoes/vegetables, to hang out with friends and socialize the pups. Baron stole the hearts of everyone there, and played with everyone till he dropped. Works for me, I may actually get some sleep tonight.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The long version

So the story behind the new pup.

As you all know, I hunt. I've been at it for a few years, but didn't have a dog for the first few. Since we've had Haru I've been taking her to the mountains with me. Hopefully she'll pan out and make a good hunting companion. So far so good.

For a while I've been friendly online with a group of hunters down south in Kyushu. They hunt with several types of dogs, and in there they have some Kishu from the Hosoda line.

When I was first looking for a hunting dog, and had decided to get one of the Japanese breeds, I looked at the Kishu. However, at the time I wasn't decided if I was only going to hunt boar, and the fact that there weren't any good hunting lines around that I could find dampened my interest.

I decided on the Kai, as they are a more versatile hunting breed (albeit not necessarily the best boar hunters). Each of the Japanese breeds has its own hunting style, and even in the breeds different lines have different 'gei' (translated it basically means artistic style/performance/skills). Some lean more towards 'hoe-dome' (baying), others toward 'kami-dome' (catching), but all Nihonken pretty much use a variety of both. Some range farther from the hunter, others hunt close. It's an endless subject, and the search for the 'perfect' hunting dog continues.

Every hunter has his own style, and a different set of skills he looks for in a dog. Being a novice, I hadn't really even thought about exactly what I was looking for. I just wanted to get out there and see how far Haru and I could go.

Realistically, the odds of having a dog that can hunt solo and get results is pretty low. You basically have to win the dog lottery. Recently I received a mail from one of the hunters in Kyushu saying that his lead dog had a litter that was larger than anticipated, and saying that if I was interested he'd be open to the idea of giving me one. The vet thought there were 4 puppies, but there ended up being 10!

I was very interested, but hadn't planned on adding another dog for at least another 6 months. I had also thought the next dog would be another Kai. I was pretty torn, but the chance to hunt with one of their Kishu was very tempting. Thus began a long series of mails discussing Kishu, the Hosoda line, and different hunting styles.

I've leaned toward baying dogs in the past as I was told by some(and also assumed) that there was less risk of injury. Kishu tend to lean more toward the catching side of the spectrum. There was only one way to sort this out, so I mailed my friend in Kyushu and asked if I could head down at his convenience to talk dogs, and see how they hunt down south.

I got a mail the next morning saying that they were all getting together in 3 days to hunt from the 1st-3rd of October, and I was welcome to join them. Schedule wise this was a bit harsh, as Kyushu is 1500 kilometers away, and I had work until 10pm on the night of the 31st, but chances like this don't come along that often.

So I scrambled to work out the details, and ended up walking out of my workplace at 10pm, straight into the car, and onto the road to Kyushu. I drove my 'mountain car' a 660cc jeep with a max speed of around 90km for just over 24 hours to make it in time for the 2nd. I think I got around 6 hours of sleep total over 2 nights.

Up bright and early at 6am, I got to meet everyone face to face for the first time. They're a terrific bunch of guys, and pretty bad ass hunters. We went at it all day long till sunset, and it was an amazing learning experience. They hunt on a totally different level than I'm used to seeing, and being able to experience 'nagashi-ryo' firsthand was incredible.

There were a few let downs, as I didn't get to see some of the battles the dogs had on the day with a few of the larger boar (I was in a different part of the mountain), but all in all a great day. We had dinner and drinks at night, and talked on into the night about hunting and dogs.

I stayed in a hotel that night and finally had a good 8 hours of sleep, totally missing the check out time. I had to head back to Chiba as Haru was acting up a bit with me gone, so another 1500km run was on. My friend with the litter told me to stop by his house on my way back so we could talk a bit more. We managed to find time in his schedule, and talked for several hours.

I was honestly not planning on bringing a pup back with me. I had mentioned the idea to my wife, but she was not getting on board. There were many reasons for this, and I'd basically agreed to wait on the idea till we could figure everything out. However, after seeing the dogs in action, and talking with the hunters, I realized that this was the type of hunting I wanted to do, and the dogs for the job. When my friend said if I was interested in running Kishu, he'd be happy to let me have one, I jumped at it and said yes.

The trip home took longer as I had to stop every three hours to feed and toilet the little man, but he was very well behaved. His mother had been going to the mountains by car everyday while pregnant, so the pup didn't seem to bothered by cars or motion sickness.

When I finally got back home, there was a lot of explaining to do to the wife. She naturally ripped me a new one, but fell in love with the little polar bear. He hadn't done anything wrong, I had, so she played with him all night and took care of him the next day when I took Haru to the mountains to expend her pent up energy that had accumulated while I was gone.

The wife has sort of forgiven me, and I'm getting bits of sleep here and there, but the pup is definitely worth the trouble. He's a little fire cracker, and very mouthy, but Haru has been great with him from the get go. They play together very well, and he even puts her in line when she goes over the top. He's been tentatively named 'Baron' by my wife (like all our pets he's named after a Ghibli character), though I would have preferred something in Japanese.

He's extremely outgoing, not an ounce of fear in him, and pees like no one's business.

Now I'm thinking I have to rename my blog!!!

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Sleep is for the weak

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Will post details later, but it's been a heck of a week.

Quit my job, jumped in my car and drove 1500 kilometers south, ran around with the most crazy great group of hunters I've ever met, had enough time to snatch a new pup on the way back (without telling my wife), and forgot to sleep for most of the week.

I came back home day before yesterday, and hit the mountains with Haru right off where we had a picnic with some boar.

And now I need to find a new job, get ready for the hunt season, while I raise the new pup, and catch up with all my mails and internet life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Short Vid

Just a short video of Suguri, the first Kai SAR dog. He's retired now, but agreed to humor me with a quick performance.

Kai Ken Aigokai Tenrankai - Fall 2009 (post 2)

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The way the event goes, in the morn they have the 'kotai shinsa', which is basically where they check for confirmation. The whole trot around the ring, check teeth, coat, size, that sort of thing. In the afternoon the dogs are called back into the ring, lined up, and judged against each other.

The best are sent to the middle first, and a long shuffle ensues with dogs and their handlers slowly being moved from one side of the ring to the middle, and then finally lined up in order on the other side of the ring. Placement in the final line up is temporary, with judges occasionally sizing up dogs, and switching their positions, or asking dogs to line up against each other.

In the end, the judge signals that he's done, and everyone gets their ribbons. This goes on all day long in each of the 3 categories, juvenile/adolescent/adult (actually 6 categories since male/female are separated). There is also another category 'sogo yuryo' (overall champ basically) that is judged at the end of the day. To enter in this category a dog has to have placed higher than 3rd (I think it may have been recently changed to 2nd) in a previous exhibition.

Haru's sire was entered in this category, as was another friend's female, Tsuki. As luck would have it, they both won their respective male/female categories and had to go up against each other. Riki won, making Haru's dad the number 1 Kai in the country. Congratulations to Inoue-san and his kennel. He took several other spots as well, including one for 2nd place in juvenile female that was won by Haru's kuro-tora half sister.

It was a like a family reunion out there, and we would have tried to take a group photo with all the pups, but Riki is not really hot on hanging around lots of dogs. Two of Haru's half-sisters were there, another 2 month old litter also sired by Riki was there to go home with their new owners. Haru's half-sister 'Ikoro' (which means treasure in Ainu) is in a training program with Hokkaido University to track non-native raccoons. She's a very cute Kai, with excellent manners. Her owner (a student at Hokkaido Uni) is doing a great job with training her.

While talking with everyone behind Inoue-san's car downing hot 'ton-jiru' (pork soup), and scarfing down maguro, we realized that most of the pups in Haru's litter, and the other litter with Ikoro in it, are now working dogs.

I was later introduced to Dr.Yamashita at the exhibition. He's a veterinarian owns/trained the first Kai in SAR. He's helping train Ikoro at present, and I'd heard about him before when I was looking into SAR. He also trains the KBD's (Karelian Bear Dog) that were imported from the US to work on bear in Nagano Prefecture.

We had a great time talking about working dogs and 'primitive' spitz type dogs. I asked him about whether it was 'harder' to train a Kai to do SAR work. His answer was that perhaps for professional trainers who've trained a certain way their whole careers, it may be difficult to train a Nihon Ken. But by adjusting training methods, it's not at all harder, and sometimes just requires a different approach.

He had his Kai 'Suguri' with him. He's 13 years old now, and is retired from SAR work. He's lost most of his hearing, and hasn't been training for a while. At my request, he agreed to put Suguri through some simple obedience stuff to show on my blog. It was very interesting to see the connection between them as Suguri was doing his thing off leash at the Tenrankai with over 150 Kai around! I'll get the video uploaded as soon as I can.

All in all, it was a great day. Haru got tuckered out assaulting everyone and every dog with kisses, and I got to drive another 250km to get home. I was pretty impressed that I managed to get over 500km on one 35 liter tank of gas. Hurray for the Jimny.

Loads of video and pictures are on the way... I guess I can work on it tomorrow.

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Kai Ken Aigokai Tenrankai - Fall 2009 (post 1)

I had a wonderful weekend up in Yamanashi at the Kai Ken Aigokai Tenrankai. The Aigokai is the governing body for the Kai breed here in Japan, and they organize two exhibitions every year. One in April, and the other in October.

We had some iffy weather this year. It was raining on Saturday as I drove up, and during the night as well. Come Sunday and showtime, we had an overcast yet non rainy day. The unseasonably chilly temps made for an excellent day for the dogs who are already switching into their winter coats, but left me feeling slightly crisp.

The Tenrankai was held on a riverbank, just off route 20 which is the main route connecting Yamanashi with Tokyo and the rest of the world. I spent the night in the car with Haru as I got there a day early and didn't want to miss anything this year. Had a less than wonderful sleep as there were others there with the same idea, and a great deal of 'ban-ken' (watchdog) Kai, barking every time vehicles pulled in.

Things started pretty early this year. There was an extremely high number of entries this year, and a few of the judges were unable to make it. Everything started early, and moved along at a pretty brisk pace all day long

By the time the first announcements were going out over the loudspeakers, I had hooked up with Inoue-san, Haru's breeder. They were showing several dogs this event, including Haru's sire, Riki.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little Polar Bears

Today was a beautiful autumn day, just right for a nice stroll through the woods. Scouted a few new spots in preparation for next month.

Haru has gotten to the point where if we can come across tracks that are relatively recent, she bee-lines it to the boar's 'nest'(I have no idea what else to call it). She still doesn't like to wander too far away from me, but we'll have to find a way to get over that so that she gets to the boar before they bolt out of their sleeping quarters. The underbrush in the hills is so thick that it would take hours to get to the boar if I tried to do it silently. As it is, I don't bother with stealth too much.

For now I'm just happy that she's got the general gist of what I'm trying to get her to do.

Seeing as I have no pics/vid to post, I'm throwing up vid of a friends Kishu pups. Darn cute little polar bears I reckon.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All's Well?

Well Haru was actually lactating, which my wife was fascinated by. The swelling's about 70% gone. It seemed to be bothering Haru a bit, and she was a bit whiny and didn't have much of an appetite for a couple days.

She's back to her old self, scarfing down anything we give her. She's an extremely food motivated dog. At present she's eight and a half months old, but her weight and growth seem to have pretty much flattened out. She will probably put on a few more pounds of muscle during the coming months, but right now she's still weighing in at around 13 kilograms.

We have an very annoying issue in the house at the moment. We haven't been able to pinpoint the culprit, but it seems someone is getting confused about where the toilet is. Seems it's one or more of the cats, and not Haru. As luck would have it, our serial pee'er is going to work in front of a little alcove that the fridge is in. Fridge is heavy= all the urine runs under the fridge.

Very annoying to clean up. It happened a few days in a row, so I've actually fenced off the area so no one can get in. The jury's still out on whether that will work as last night someone peed in front of the AV rack in the living room instead.

Bummer.

Well it's a beautiful day, and aside from a little work I have in Tokyo tonight, the next two days are mine.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Swelling.

So wake up this morn and getting Haru ready for her daily walk at the marsh I notice her mammary glands are swollen. Quite considerably actually. I'm thinking that she may be getting ready to go into her second heat.

Have to head into work now, but I'll have to have a chat with my vet later. It's more of a hard swelling than soft, and the rear glands are the most swollen. Doesn't seem to be bothering her, but from past experience she needs to stay calm and rest.

So, no mountains/playdate tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WoT about hunting with dogs in Japan

A friend of mine asked me the other day about hunting in Japan, and what types of breeds are used. I meant to type a quick reply over a cup of tea, but as usual I ended up with a WOT (Wall of Text) reply. Yes, I am long winded. My wife reminds me all the time. I try to explain everything and anything.

Well seeing as I typed this up, I figured I'd throw in on my poor abused blog that doesn't get nearly the amount of attention it should get since my Nikon died.




As far as hunters and their dogs, almost all bird dogs in Japan are western breeds (pointers, retrievers, spaniels). Most big game hunters run mixes, and usually include Nihon Ken/Hound bloodlines. Everything over here is cramped, including hunting areas, and hounds are extremely far ranging. Hunters add Nihon Ken blood as they are closer ranging.

There are Japanese breeds that are not recognized (even here in Japan), some are old hunting lines, some are newer breeds, and many hunters use/mix them. Some examples are the Yakushima, Nitta, and the Matsuda Corporation's 'Luggers'.

Hunters that hunt in large groups usually run hounds, with solo hunters (tandoku-ryoshi) using Nihon Ken or mixes. There are some hunters that run a 'catch dog' or two in their packs, like Pitties, Amstaffs, Dogos, or Staffies. Dogos were big around 15-20 years ago, and there were lots of imports, but they didn't fare too well over here. It's a combination of the mountainous terrain, their size, and hunting style.

Lastly, there is the minority that run purebred Nihon Ken. Kishu are boar/deer dogs, and are probably the most widely used Nihon Ken for hunting. Kai are probably second and are mostly used for bird, and a smaller percentage on boar. Shikoku are boar/deer dogs as well, but I only know a handful of hunters that have purebred Shikoku. Right under the Shikoku is the Hokkaido. I know a couple of hunters that have tried Hokkas down here on the main island, but because of their thicker coats, they tend to overheat. They are also built more for hunting in snow, they have stockier stronger front ends, but not much speed. Hunting with Shiba is something I hear about very rarely, and I've only ever seen them on birds. The Akita, well I don't know of anyone that hunts with Akita. The present 'type' and bloodlines are not working dogs, they're too big, and not really built for hunting.

The hunters that run Japanese breeds do so mostly for their hunting style. Of course there are some who are just very into the preserving the breeds and want to 'work' them. I'm sure a bit of the 'national heritage pride' factors in as well. I used to hunt with Jack Russell Terriers, and when choosing my next breed I decided that there are plenty of people hunting with western breeds. Owning AND working the Japanese breeds is something only a handful of people in the world are able to do, and seeing as I'm in that position I picked the Kai to start with as it's a 'all round' hunting dog and suits my hunting style.

The Japanese breeds are perfectly suited to hunting in Japan. An agile medium sized dog has an easier time in hilly terrain with thick underbrush. There are not many big open spaces, where a large long limbed dog would have an advantage in running down prey. The thick double coat that sheds twice a year as the temperatures change is also invaluable in protecting dogs hunting in thick, prickly brush.

Nihon Ken aren't 'trained' to hunt per se. This is one reason hunters enjoy hunting with them. Most western breeds are bred to very specialized hunting tasks or styles, and require a lot of training (especially bird dogs) but the Nihon Ken develop their own hunting techniques and style, through plain instinct mostly it seems. It's just a matter of getting them out to the mountains early and often, and instinct takes over. In my experience hunting with them is like going on a hunt with a wild animal. If you have a dog with the drive, smarts, and eventually experience as well, the hunter's job is just to read what the dog is doing and try to keep up. They don't need any commands, and aren't really trained to do anything, they're just reacting naturally to being on the hunt. In hunting big game, the dogs learn that if they stop the animal for long enough, the human will come and dispatch it for them.

There are downsides to hunting with Nihon Ken. They're very quiet on the hunt, and it can be difficult to know if they're on the chase, or which direction they've gone. They generally have a much smaller search range than say hounds, and will give up the chase and come back rather quickly if they feel there's too much distance between them and the hunter. They also do a lot of the 'thinking' themselves, and will develop bad habits if the hunter is not careful. For example a friend of mine had a dog that was a turning into a great baying dog, but after a few incidents where my friend took too long to find him when he had a boar bayed up (or spooked the boar by making too much noise when closing distance), completely stopped baying and would just chase the boar for a bit and come back.

I guess the main difference in hunting with Nihon Ken as opposed to Western breeds is rather subtle. It's hard to explain, but I guess it's working to bring out the dog's naturally present qualities and instincts as opposed to 'teaching' the dog how to hunt.

Hmmm hard to explain, and I have again created a wall of text.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rainy days

Video from today. We took a walk to the park after the rain let up.

You can see her right side is a lot lighter than usual. She's in the middle of a coat change, and something we've come in contact with recently has irritated her to where she's chewed through the outer layer of her coat.

Went to the vet this morning for her monthly heartworm meds, vet said we'll give her a bit more time and see how her coat does this next week.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Kishu Pup

I got permission from an internet friend to post some of his Youtube videos on my blog.

He hunts down south, and I'm pretty jealous of all the space they have down there (and the oodles of pigs). There's a lot more big game hunters down there, as opposed to all the bird hunters up here where I am.

There's a wide variety of dogs used, but since I'm partial to the working Japanese breeds, I'm posting video of some of their dogs in training, a Kishu and Yakushima to be exact.


Just a warning: Hunting videos can be a bit gory and are unpleasant to some. If you're one of those people don't click on the video.

Kishu do quite a bit of 'catching', but most any hunting dog will if they're in a pack and feel they are strong enough to take the pig. I prefer my dogs bay, I think you get less injuries that way.

This is a pretty non gory vid, just young dogs learning to bay a big pig.

Updates

Looks like I won't be entering Haru in the Kai Ken Aigokai Tenrankai this time round. After a kibble switch, her coat's gone dry and a bit haywire. Over the past week or so she's chewed a few spots on her sides, and I don't think it'll heal in the next month.

I've gone back to feeding her cooked, our kibble experiment didn't go so well. I've been throwing raw treats in every now and again, and she loves them. A bit too much actually.

Dropped by the Chiba-ken Nippo Regional the other day, took a bit of video. No pics as the Nikon is still sidelined, but I will try and upload the footage soon.

Autumn is in full gear, the weather is nice and cool, perfect for getting out and about. Also prime tick season. Seem to be bringing quite a few of them home. Frontline is keeping them under control, but of course doesn't kill them instantly, so we find a lot of half dead ticks around the house after our trips.

Had a good hike in the rain last week, loads of fun. Worked with Haru on the 'no chickens' policy. She's learned that she's not allowed to chase chickens, and will pretty much give up chase on anything I call her off of. The one exception being cats. She really has it in for cats. Any cats that are not her cats anyway.

I need to fix the Nikon, and a new video camera would be nice. I long for the days when I used to have free access to professional filming equipment...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Over a month since my last post.

Ever since the Nikon died (and I have yet to get it fixed), it's been hard to work up the energy to blog. It's all about the pictures!

It's been a long month. The weather went from torrid to cool in a matter of a week or so. Haru and the cats love it and they're getting much more energetic. It's time to start hitting the mountains hard before the start of the season in November.

Haru's weighing in at just over 13kgs. She's filled out a bit in the past month. Was looking a little scrawny and leggy for a while there. Her coat's not quite there yet, still coming in. Am pretty much waiting on that to decide whether or not I'll enter her in the Tenrankai next month.

Her prey drive is growing by the day, and she's quite impressive when she gets in hunt mode. At the moment it's still all about small mammals, have yet to see about the big pigs. Still a bit clumsy at times, she jumped into a wall instead of over it tonight. Got right back up and jumped over it though. Guess it's good in that it reminds me she's still a 7 month old pup.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is going real well in regards to her temperament, reactions, energy levels, health. Couldn't have asked for much more in a dog. She's appropriately balanced in most everything. Not to soft, not too sharp, with people or other dogs. She guards the house, but not obsessively, is very calm indoors, and turns it on once were out in the woods.

Still 7 months, guess we'll see where we go from here!

Adding video of a friend's Kai. They're both working dogs, excellent boar hunters.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cream Kai

Every once in a while I'll see pictures or hear about a cream colored Kai Ken. I just found a video on Youtube of a cream pup bred in Yamanashi.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Zap

Title probably should be 'Haru gets into more trouble.'

Took her to the mountains the other day, and on our way home stopped near some rice fields to have lunch. There's a serious crop damage issue locally, so pretty much all the rice fields are ringed with electric fencing.

Puppies don't really listen too well when they're lunging after frogs. She was on leash, but finally got a good lunge in and hit the fence. There was much yelping and panic as she went into crazy mode.

After that she listened to me when I said no as she moved toward the fencing.

Well I ended up having to call the land owner to have the fence fixed as she stretched some of it when she hit it. Wouldn't want the piggies getting into the fields on my account.

Meh hopefully a good learning experience, maybe will teach her to stay away from rice fields when we're hunting. Haru is crazy about mud...

Must to fix Nikon to take pictures!

This here is a video (courtesy of youtube) taken at sunrise in one of the areas I hunt.

Monday, July 27, 2009

And weighing in at...

... all of 12kg on the dot (26.4lb). Just finished Haru's weekly weigh in.

Her weight gain/growth has slowed considerably the past couple weeks. She's hasn't been eating very much for the last few days, not sure if it's because of the growth slow down or the incredibly muggy heat we've had recently. She's looking a little on the thin side.

We took that trip to the beach yesterday. Haru spent pretty much all of it under the car in a nice cool spot she dug out for herself in the sand. We did take her down to the water a couple times to cool off though. She likes water, but only so long as her feet are touching the bottom.

Being the only guy around I naturally ended up with the task of setting up camp and getting the BBQ going. Everything went pretty well yesterday (though I underestimated the sun and have come out looking like a lobster). We ended up with great weather, fun BBQ, a bit of fishing, and a beautiful sunset.

Took the long route home through the middle of the Boso Peninsula to show the wife the local wildlife. I've tried taking her on a few runs through the mountains, but she usually falls asleep or is not looking when I spot stuff. Last night we had some amazing luck, and came across a family of pigs crossing the road, an owl, an anaguma (Japanese badger), and a few other URO's (unidentified running objects). The wife loved the piglets and attempted to whip out the video cam but unfortunately it doesn't run well in the dark. The rest of the group had already crossed the road, but the little ones were having a conference deciding the best way to jump over the drainage ditch. They were all huddled together and we watched them for a while till one of them summoned the boar in him and jumped. Of course all the rest followed. Wifey thought the piglets were the cutest little things.

Our one mishap of the day happened while we were fishing, and it was nearly a disaster. After I had set up the line at a scenic spot we found just past a fishing harbor, I strolled over to a concrete jetty separating open ocean from the beach. It was lined with 'tetra pods' (wave breakers), and there were some pretty big waves rolling in here and there. The big boys would roll in and hit the breakers and splash up over the jetty.

Well Haru was off leash, and followed me. I saw a big wave coming so started strolling back before I got splashed. Wave came up on the breakers, startled Haru and next thing I knew she was in midair jumping off the other side of the jetty toward the beach. It was the funniest thing at first, as she's never actually swum before, and she looked like a little kid who's father just threw them into the deep end. She was swimming around for a bit, and was getting the hang of it, so I called her over to a spot she could climb up a wave breaker and back onto the jetty.

She was just getting to the breaker when sheer terror wiped the grin off my face. A wave rolled in and the ensuing water level drop and undertow pulled her under the breaker. The next wave brought the level back up, and she was gone. There were a few moments where I seriously feared the worst. I was walking on the breakers trying to find where she'd been washed into while calling her (probably frantically, but you'd have to ask the wife. She heard me and came running). Just as the wife got to me, I found Haru right under the tetra pod I was originally trying to get here to climb up. The pods are stacked on top of each other, and she was poking her head out of a spot that seemed not quite big enough to get through.

I got the leash on her and tried to figure out if I was going to have to get in the water and swim up under the pod to pull her out. It's never a good idea to swim near breakers, for obvious reasons. While in this precarious position a few big waves rolled in over the jetty, and we all got thoroughly drenched. As luck would have it the last one brought the water level pretty high, and Haru got a good chunk of her body through the crevice. With a little pulling and coaxing, I managed to get her out.

Crisis over. After the initial feeling of relief, I started thinking. Chances are I might have been able to prevent this if she was on leash. On second thought, I can imagine all sorts of bad scenarios with her lunging off the pier and me getting dragged off onto the breakers. Still, I've had a couple situations recently when she was off leash. For the record, when she's out of the house with us, she's on leash 90% of the time. The times she's off are when she's in the mountains, and occassionally when I walk her round the back of the apartment to her toilet. When we're in secluded spots (like yesterday) I'll let her off for a little bit to stretch her legs, then it's back on leash.

Well after mulling over the days events I will definitely try and be just that much careful about when I let her off, but I've also realized I can't protect her from everything. I forsee that hunting together we will have our share of hairy experiences, it comes with the territory. I'm just going to have to try to minimize risk where I can.

Hmmm another wall of text blog post. Am in the process of uploading video from today, so will post it later.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Working Dogs

Well I've got a few days off, so we're heading out for some fishing/camping and maybe some surf. Since the Nikon is still out of commission there will be no pictures, but I will take the video camera. Should give me something new to post.

Well here's a video that was posted by a friend on www.nihonken.org which I enjoyed. Some great footage of working livestock guardian dogs (LGD's) here, so I'm posting the link.

http://wpt2.org/npa/IW738wolfdogs.cfm


I tried to dig up some pics of Haru I hadn't posted before, and found one of the wife wrapped up with Haru on the couch.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gah


So I've had a string of iffy luck recently.


Got ticketed at the end of June while picking up the wife from a bar.

Got the jeep stuck in the mountains.

My body seems to be collapsing under work related stress.

My Nikon decided to give up the ghost on the day we were driving down to my brother in law's wedding.



I'm hoping it ends here, cause I'm getting worn out.

No cam = No pictures for the blog.


Well not too much going on at the moment. Haru has gone into heat though. Caught me off guard as she's just under 6 months. She's a bit out of sorts, but nothing too strange. She's growing by the day so everyone'll probably be surprised when I get the Nikon back and you see how she looks now.

Till then...



EDIT: My sister in law took some pictures the other day and just sent me the files. So we've ended up with a few pictures.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Haru and mud

I had four days off...

June 29th my wife and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary. We had lunch out with family, did some shopping, had a second lunch with more family 2 hours later, while all the while managing to sneak in the beers.

The day ended with dinner at my wife's mother's place. Enchiladas all around, courtesy of my sis-in-law who is visiting at the moment.

The next day we had a BBQ over at another sister's house, which pretty much brought the rest of the in-laws and a lot of old friends, millions of children and Haru into one spot. We're all suckers for good food. It was loads of fun, and no one complained that the weather prediction was off, as we should have had rain, but instead had a nice overcast day.

Day 3 I packed up the gear and Haru and I jumped into the jeep to head out for some fishing and hunting training. Another overcast day, nice breeze, decent temps, great for a romp outdoors. We had a fun mountain climb, which more or less involved Haru following boar, and myself struggling to keep up.

We managed to get the jump on a group of piglets, don't know how far off the biggies were. Haru tracked us right on top of 'em. They took off in all directions, and Haru picked one and gave chase. Her first pigs, and she showed a lot of interest. They were pretty much the same size as her, and damn they're fast. She chased for a bit, and then came back. It's all a fun game to her, and after the pigs were gone she enjoyed digging up the bamboo shoots the pigs had half uncovered.

Mid afternoon rolled around and I was getting hungry. Headed down the mountain to get a bite to eat, and while driving toward a local 'bento' shop in the area I came across a mountain road I hadn't been up recently. It's barely wide enough for my little jeep to get through, and only paved for the first 200 meters or so. After that it's all off road, rocks, mud and such. Basically just a 2 rut path cutting up to the top of the mountain where it dead ends. The other side of the mountain is a large tract of nationally owned forest with some of the biggest trees you'll find in Chiba prefecture. There's a lot of wild mushrooms and vegetables growing up there, and I wanted to take a quick peek.

It's just over 3km to the end of the 'road' and we were pretty much there when things started to go awry. I was happy to notice some recent maintenance on the route, the forestry service fixes it up around once a year. Going up there were a few muddy patches due to the recent rain, but nothing the 4WD was going to have issues with. There's one last rise, then a dip and a short hill before getting to the end of the route. Just as I rolled over the rise I noticed the dip was a bit muddy, but it didn't look too bad. I figured it wouldn't be too fun heading back, but it shouldn't be too bad.

BIG mistake. Rolled up the last bit of road, took a walk around with Haru for 30mins and started on the descent. Got to the 'dip' and we couldn't get up the little rise. No matter how I tried to take it, the closest I could get to the top was around 10 meters. I found out later that they only did road work this year up to the rise, then dumped a load of excess mud down into the 'dip'.

I spent the next two hours of daylight trying to be crafty and get up the hill. No go. I got my shovel out and worked on the road, tried laying stuff on it for traction, tried crawling, and finally tried just flying down from as far back as I could get and gunning up. Always the same result. 10 meters from the top. Lots of fun driving tho, but now Haru and I were both covered in mud and it was 7pm. We were losing daylight fast. I realized we weren't going to get out without help and figured we'd just sleep in the car and figure it out the next day.

I backed up the car to the bottom of the rise to get ready for a night out, and just after I stopped, the car started sliding to the right. We had a cliff face going up on our left, and a cliff dropping off to the right. Haru was in the passenger seat to my left, so I grabbed her, and jumped out the passenger side door. Luckily the car stopped sliding, with the front right wheel off the edge. We weren't going to be sleeping in the car. I grabbed some rope and tied the car up to a few nearby trees to stop it from sliding further, and stacked rocks around the tires. We were going to need serious help now. The sky was also starting to look a bit iffy and I didn't want to get caught sleeping in a tent in the rain under a cliff face.

Decided to head down the mountain seeing as it was still 7:30, I had a couple flashlights, good gear, and it's only 3km. We trudged down to the bottom in around an hour and a half, and ran into a local who pointed me in the direction of the nearest gas station 5km away. We walked while I called in a rescue party, aka my bro-in-law and co. They were around 3 hours away, but dropped everything to come pick us up. We finally met up at 1am, and got home at 4. Collapsed into my bed, till it was absolutely necessary to get up.

Borrowed a vehicle from my father-in-law's company and drove back out to see about the jeep. Locals are great. The nearest car repair shop's 'shacho' (boss) was amazing. He jumped into his 4WD 'kei truck' (a extremely mini pick up truck with a 660cc engine) and drove with me as far as was safe up the mountain. He was amazed I drive up there all the time, as even the locals don't know the road exists (and of course you have to be nuts to drive up there). He's been contracted to do some work up there by the forestry service on occasion, so knows the area.

We took a look at the jeep, and figured out a plan of attack for getting it back on the road. I had a fleeting thought the night before that the only way I was going to get the car out of there was by getting a vehicle with tracks and not tires to pull the jeep out. I mentioned it to the 'shacho' and he agreed and called up a friend of his who runs a construction company. They talked for a bit, and decided to help me out and arranged to get a shovel car up to the mountain.

To make this long story shorter, two hours later we were back up the mountain with the shovel car pulling the jeep back onto the road, and up the rise. I have a bit of video I took here and there that I'll try to post later, but all in all it was a nutty few days. I'm happy it didn't end up worse than it did, but mostly I have to thank friends and family for all their help. It's times like this when things are going south that you realize how important their support is.

As an interesting side note, when bro-in-law and co. came to pick me up, they drove out on an empty tank of gas. Guessing which route to take that MIGHT have an all night gas station within a 30km radius was pretty stressing. Of course this whole story ends well, so we didn't run out of gas, but it was a close thing. We were also both on the last battery bar on our cellphones. Not fun.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ring of Soldier


Only family can drive me out of bed at 5am on my day off.

Of course that's a lie since I do get up that early to go fishing/hunting. But it's close enough.

Today Benny graduated the first part of his JGSDF (Japan Ground Self Defense Force) training. As family, we headed out to cheer him on and watch the show. After a few mishaps (why were there 3 different traffic accidents on our route?) we ended up at the base just in time to watch the end of what apparently had been a very long slew of speeches and marching drills conducted on the training field.

Lucky for everyone involved, today has been the hottest day of the year so far. 10 grunts collapsed while in formation, but of course Benny was not one of them. The only thing that Benny collapses from is extreme beer inhalation.

They do not believe in air conditioning on base, so we ate the celebratory lunch in a scorching mess hall, and listened to the drill sergeants give speeches.

Congratulations on graduating, Ben, and also on making it into the Airborne!


We didn't have much time to relax, as it was important to hurry home and make sure the little miss hadn't gotten into any trouble. She was surprisingly well behaved! No destruction of my office, no accidents during the 9 1/2 hours we were gone.

Took Haru for a nice walk and some play at the park, and just got home. Too lazy to cook, we've just ordered some Indian take out.

Oh, and the picture at the top of the post is an item they were selling in the on base shop.