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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dog Run Take 2

Had some translating to do in Tokyo yesterday, and took Haru with me for the ride. There's a nice new dog run at a park nearby, so we headed out there for another go at the dog run.

Last time out we didn't actually go inside as she didn't have her rabies shot yet, and I figured it was probably better to get used to the atmosphere first. Haru's been making great progress in learning that other dogs are fun.

For the first few weeks she was with us any scent/sound/view of a dog would make her head for home. She basically wanted to avoid contact. After a few trips to parks and areas where there were a lot of dogs around, she got used to the idea of them being nearby, but if a dog came up to actually say hello her tail would drop and she would move into avoidance.

After a few more weeks of work, she'd gotten to where she was fine with being approached by well mannered dogs, but lunging tail waggers she was not happy with. She was also not initiating contact, she'd just perk up when she'd notice another dog and watch what they were doing.

Last trip to the park, she was fine getting close to the dog run, but still shy about being approached by multiple dogs, or dogs larger than her. She has an interesting reaction to annoying dogs though. She runs a few feet away, and if they keep coming she just plops her but down on the ground and sits there till they get bored and go away.

Well yesterday we slowly worked through all that through the course of the afternoon. At the end of the day I was elated to watch her approaching dogs to play, playing chase, and dealing very well with even the more troublesome (snarky, agressive, in your face) dogs. All the other owners at the run loved her and surprisingly most of them knew she was a Kai. Of course there were a few misconceptions floating around with the most popular being that she would grow up to be huge dog.

Haru dealt with a few harrowing spots, getting charged by a Lab, and getting chased around the run by a lot of dogs to name a few. She actually let out a yelp and was a bit shook up after the chase...for all of around 5 seconds. Then it was back to play.

All in all a great day. I apologize for the lack of spam, but keeping an eye on the dogs was a full time job. We'll probably go again soon, and I should be able to get some pics or vid then. Haru has a new BFF, a cream Shiba male named 'Latte'. They get on great and he's such a cute little stud.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Been so busy...

... that I haven't had time to post about Haru's first trip to scope out the dog run, Haru teething, the EXTREMELY muggy weather we've been having, my wife training Haru to 'wait' ('ma-te' in Japanese), the wife's birthday (enter taco home party), me getting a $150 parking ticket on said birthday, and Haru's excellent progress in on-leash walks.

But yes, we're alive, and I've got the day off tomorrow so I should be able to take some pics or vid to post. It's 12:00pm and I just got back from work. It's been rain-forest muggy for the past two days, absolutely NUTS if you ask me. The wife's been covering for me in the Haru department as I've been swamped with work.

My wife has informed me that I should now refer to her as the 'Queen of Chiba' on this blog. Hmmmmm.

EDIT* I've now been informed that this was just a joke and should not be posted. I was also blackmailed into removing compromising photograph of her from post.

EDIT** I've been threatened with bodily injury unless I remove all mention of this from my post. The Queen is now hitting me... ouch. Well, she hits like a girl.

EDIT*** I removed everything from the post so she'd stop hurting me, but now she's threatening me with more pain unless I put it all back up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And the rains came

So we've officially entered 'Tsuyu', the rainy season. Of course it's been raining more often than not for a while now. Thank you captain-obvious-weatherman for pointing it out.

Yesterday we visited my wife's (I need to come up with a nickname for her as I'm getting bored of always typing 'my wife') grandparents. As usual her grandmother noted that I look skinnier than ever and proceeded to break out all the stops to try and fatten me up.

Benny (my bro-in-law) drove up with us and stayed for lunch as well. We had loads of 'yakiniku' (literally 'fried meat'), shiitake mushrooms, homegrown cabbage/onions/carrots, seafood, sushi, and so forth. The onions were particularly amazing, big sweet buggers grown by grandmother's brother. Organic food at its best. Even managed to sneak in a little Kirin beer.

While TW (the wife) fought to stop herself from falling asleep on the living room tatami, I tried to get us moving out. There was still Inoue-san to visit, and his house is a good hour away from the G-pad. By the time we successfully departed, we were nearly an hour late. A storm looked to be coming in as we putted northward (my jeep redlines at 80kph).

We'd been wondering aloud the whole trip up how Haru would react to the return home. When we pulled in we were greeted by the Kai barking chorus, and Haru did her usual return bark. Pretty much the only time I've ever heard her bark is when other dogs bark at her.

Well Inoue-san came out to greet us, and as soon as Haru got out of the car and took a sniff, she was all over him. It was a very happy reunion, with Haru running up to the kennels and licking all the other dogs through the bars. She obviously remembered them all, and they her.

We all went inside and had tea while we talked Kai, and watched a recording of a TV show from last year starring an Inoue-so Kai. Her name is 'Salada' (salad) and she's a certified SAR dog. The TV show was a canine obstacle course competition, and Salada was one of 2 dogs to complete it. She made it look effortless. I'm going to try and borrow the VHS and capture it to com for uploading.

We talked about the Kai in all the pictures covering the wall of the room we were in. Two of Haru's siblings were taken to Hokkaido for a test program run by Hokkaido University to control the ballooning raccoon population. Another pup 'Momo' is in a program in Gunma as a 'monkey-dog' protecting orchards from raiding macaques. Salada's son is also a certified SAR dog as well.

As we got ready to head home we were loaded with presents as usual. Inoue-san works in the fish market, so every time I visit he loads me down with fish. We got a nice block of delicious salmon sashimi, a couple squid, some still very alive shrimp, homegrown cucumbers and 'daikon' (a type of radish). It all made for a great dinner when we got back.

Home made Japanese food = GOOD TIMES.

I figured I'd add that we had a thunderstorm hit while at Inoue-so yesterday, and another tonight as well. Nutty weather with direct lightning strikes in the neighborhood.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


So just got back from the vet. Haru just got her legally required rabies vaccination.

She was excellent there again, and was quite happy there were other dogs there today. She was disappointed however that there's no playing at the vet's office.

Also picked up her heartworm meds for the month.

Haru now weighs in at 10.3kg, and is getting a bit more leggy. Vet was surprised at how 'built' she is.

Gotta head out to work now. At least tomorrow is my day off. I'm going to Inoue-So to pick up Haru's Aigokai registration papers and give Inoue-san a look at how she's grown.

If I have time in the morning I'm going to try to catch the NBA finals. Must find someone's house to crash seeing as I don't have satellite.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Boy Scouts-- Part 2

Ummm yes. I forgot that I was going to say thanks for all the replies to my dog food post. Thanks for the helpful links and comments.

I've got a few books I'm reading through, and am keeping Haru on half kibble half cooked for now. So far so good, and Haru is loving it. Firmer/smaller poo, and less smelly too.

Also the pics above are of Haru's coat so you can see what I was talking about a couple posts back. The red definitely takes longer to come in. She's has a lot more black now, especially when compared to when she was a pup.

So, back to the leeches and ticks...

I don't know if it's just me, but I can feel it the moment a leech bites. It hurts. Maybe I'm immune to their painkiller or whatever, but as soon as I feel that telltale sting I'm dropping my trousers and yanking them off.

Well after the happy leech/tick episode, I headed toward the wildlife protection zone to see if I could get some footage. There's this one mountain road that has multiple deer trails crossing it, and I can usually count on seeing deer there any given day if I wait long enough.

I drive up and down the stretch of road for awhile, but nothing. It's just before dusk, and the real movement of deer and boar should be starting. But again, nothing. I decided to stake out my favorite meadow for a while, so pulled out a book and waited for around an hour. Nothing.

It's starting to get dark so impatient me drives up to the top of the mountain and back down again. Just as I'm thinking it's not my lucky night out pop a few does at the bottom of the mountain road. It's already too dark to get decent footage, and they're spooked by the car. I do a u-turn to see if I can catch them crossing the road, but by the time I get back to the spot they're bolting across. Too fast for footage.

I got a little bit of blurry junk which I'll post later. Thing is I decided to head up to the top of the mountain and head home by going down the other side. As I get halfway up, to a spot I was at less than 5 minutes before, there's a large fawn down in the middle of the road. I found it strange because it looks like roadkill, but any cars would have had to have passed me. On closer inspection she has vines and leaves all over her, and she's still alive. The spot she was at in the road has 10 meter (around 30feet) high rock faces on either side with a lot of shrubbery up there.

She had probably broken her back and was unable to get up, but still very much alive, able to make a little bit of noise and lift her head a little. I won't get too graphic, but she was bleeding as well, looked like she'd taken a nasty hit to the head.

The only thing I could deduce from the situation is that she had slipped off one of the sides of the road and landed hard on the road. What do you know, deer have their own accidents.

Now I was in a bit of a pickle. She's in the middle of the road, so I have to move her to get by, and she's obviously dying very painfully. However, I'm in a wildlife protection zone, so it's illegal for me to put her out of her misery. In Japan it's also illegal to pick up roadkill, it ends up being classified as some form of theft apparently, or a violation of the hunting laws. It's already past 8pm and the forestry office down the road is not picking up.

Now in hindsight the other option would have been to call the cops and wait for them to drag themselves up the mountain. Well I got the gloves on, and moved her off the road. I also did what I thought was morally correct, but which I won't post.

I headed home, feeling a sad numbness. I'm a pretty lousy hunter. I love being in the wild, tracking, planning, waiting, and even hauling/dressing/preparing game, but I hate the kill. A lot of hunters prefer to use the term 'harvesting' and shy away from using the 'K' word. But it is what it is. I am taking a life to continue mine. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject of hunting, but I'll save it for another time.

I drove home and came across what looked like more roadkill. A palm civet (of SARS fame) on the side of the road. I got out with the shovel and did my bit, but on closer inspection it had puncture wounds to the around the head/neck area. Looked like a canine kill. More irony. Head out to take pictures of 'wildlife' and all I come across is wilddeath. You think it's all roadkill but then find out it's not.

Well slightly gruesome post perhaps, but it is what it is. The natural cycle of things, birth/death, all happening everyday, everywhere.

Boy Scouts-- Part 1

Yesterday was the first day of my two day 'weekend'. Slipped out of bed, grabbed Haru, some rain gear/boots, fishing gear, the D40, and my video camera. Headed south toward my hunting area.

I wanted to get some pics/vid of the wildlife if possible, and get some exercise with Haru. But life is ironic.

First 'wildlife' we came across was a roadkill duck. I pulled over, checked it, buried it. The rain had let up during the night, but I was ready just in case. I try to be ready for any eventuality, but I got a bit lazy and decided not to lug out my hunting case. It has most of my 'gear' in it, lots of useful outdoors stuff. Well at least I brought the shovel, it came in handy.

Had a fun march through the hills, it's been raining for a few days, so testing weather for tracking. Looked like a large group of pigs had been in the area a few days before but moved on. The deer in Chiba prefecture have been increasing in number for a while now, and steadily marching northward as they do. There was a sighting in my area last season, but I haven't seen any scat or tracks yet.

Decided to move further south where the deer are thick to get some footage. Thanks to the recently changed weather the animals were out and about, but so were the parasites. The ticks were everywhere. I could see them dangling on the tips of leaves waiting for a meal. Haru and I were both dosed down with anti-bug, but as a precaution we both had a good shower the moment we got back. So far no ticks on either of us. Leeches on the other hand...

Through the course of the day I pulled 4 leeches off myself. I would have taken some pics, but only had the telephoto lens on me and couldn't get it far enough away to take them. That and when I find a leech on myself, removing them quickly is the only thing on my mind. I forgot my anti-tick/leech tights. They're very sexy camo tights, and I pulled a doh and forgot them.

Well I'm taking the wife out for sushi, so will post part 2 of this blog later. It again involves my hardy USM shovel.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dog food

I've never been a fan of paying out tons of cash to feed my dogs. Yes I'm stingy, but it's not just when it comes to dog food.

I do however want my dogs healthy. I've always ended up feeding them a mix of medium priced kibble/cooked meals and some raw thrown in here and there.

I wasn't sure where I was going this time around. I'll probably end up going mostly raw after this hunting season is over, but what to feed until then. I was self-employed for 6 years until September last year. I've always had as much time as I wanted for my dogs. I'm working full time now, so I figured picking up a high grade kibble for Haru would work out best.

Of course when actually getting smacked upside the head with a \12000 (roughly $120) bill for a 7kg (15lb) bag of kibble, I did a bit of a double take. I did the math, and it just comes out MUCH easier on my wallet to buy food at the grocery store and cook for Haru.

So last week I added some bulk food for Haru into our shopping trip. I talked to the wife about it, explaining why it was a better idea and so forth. She agreed, and the next morning surprised me by getting up before me and cooking a bulk batch of home made dog chow! Dang I love my wife.

Well Haru loves her too, and loves her new food. It's a mix of sweet potato, some carrot, a few types of organ meats, and chicken. She also gets a bit of fish oil every day. I'll probably be mixing up the mix every now and again, but the main thing I'm trying to watch right now is her weight. Gotta figure out the optimal amount.

This new diet for Haru coincides with the wife trying to bulk me up. I've got one of those body types that lose weight when I don't work out. I've started working out again, and the wife's pulling out all the stops in the kitchen, hopefully that'll equal weight gain. Well it will. It always works, and I look great for awhile, then I get lazy. I've got the protein shakes going and everything. I'll hit the big 3-0 this year, so maybe I'm trying to prove to myself that I can still do this.

I've started teaching some kids how to play basketball, and yesterday was the first time in over a year and a half that I actually shot some baskets and ran around a bit. I've lost a bit of speed, and I'm not dangling all over the rim like I used to, but I seem to be in better shape than I thought I was.

Maybe it's time to start playing again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Finally a break from the rain, AND I have two days off. Us three (wife/Haru/me) went out to get some sun.

Haru's leash walk needs a lot of improvement, but at least she doesn't pull. There is a lot of stopping to sniff and wandering around.

I think because of the fact that Haru was born and spent her first 3 months in a kennel, she was not very happy about leaving our property for walks. For the first few weeks she'd continue stopping/looking back as well as trying to head back home any chance she got.

She came home with us at 12 weeks, which was probably not optimal. However my hat's off to her breeder, Inoue-san, for doing an excellent job with his breeding program and socializing her. So far the few little quirks in her reactions to things have been easy to work out.

Inoue-san works on quite a few things with his pups to get them ready for their new homes. Most of them are small things, but can make all the difference.

Things like having as many neighbors and friends as possible play with the pups and treat them. Acclimatizing them to loud noises, wearing collars, vehicles, and coming when called. The mother and pups are penned with other adult 'nannies' to learn canine manners etc.

I'm sure there are other things I haven't noticed, but all in all, Haru came to us as a VERY well behaved puppy. I'm starting to run out of 'problems' to fix.

Oh well, there's always more hunting training to work on. I'll probably head out with her to the mountains in the morn.