Saturday, November 28, 2009

Japanese Blog

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


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?


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


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


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.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The White Terrorist


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...





Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Sleeper


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!!!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Sleep is for the weak

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.