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!!!



  1. Wow... that was a really nice story to read about. I guess you'll be spending even more time in the mountains now then ;)

    Since you seems to have a lot of knowledge about hunting with japanese dogs I wounder if you know how the Akitas works as hunting dogs?


  2. Congrats of the new pup!

    I found your blog thru Nihon Ken Forum, I myself have one shibabitch at home and one kishubitch is in order for the spring, so you can be sure I'll read everything you write here ;)

    I suppose you don't speak Finnish but at least you can enjoy pictures at my blog !

    I would also be very interested to hear more about this beautiful breed after you have had little time with the newbie.

  3. Oh man Shigeru I am uber jealous. He's so cute! Now we have another reason to look you up when we visit Japan.

    - Rina

  4. Tinja:
    I've also found this blog through the Nihon Ken Forum. Nice to see peoples from Finland :) I have two suomenlapinkoiras beside our Akita Viggo. Too bad your blog is in Finnish. Even tho my parents are from Finland I don't speak any Finnish my self :(

  5. Ommmy, what a total cute polar bear pup! I understand the genuine preference of pup over offspring. I delight in the idea of going away for a few days after having discussed having another baby w/ my DH and come home preggo!! SURPRISSSSE!!! Glad you can swing having so many babies! Hope it all goes well!

  6. Thanks for the comments all!

    Martin: I really don't know anyone (and haven't heard of anyone) that hunts with Akita. In their present state their a bit big size wise to hunt in Japan (not impossible though of course), and there are also not really any working lines around. Since most breeders are breeding entirely for show and not work, it would probably be hard to find good working animals. It's something I may try in the future as the Akita was my first favorite of the Japanese breeds. If I ever find any info I'll be sure to post.

    Tinja: I definitely don't speak/read Finnish, but fun nonetheless just looking at the pictures on your blog. If I may ask, where is your Kishu coming from?

    Rina: I'm still waiting for forum members to get their butts down here!

    Babylove: I've reached the limit as far as how many pets my apartment can hold. It's a zoo down here, and the clean freak in me is having a terrible time trying to keep the house under control. Also I doubt DH would be happy about that scenario.

  7. Ah... that's too bad, isn't it? I'd love to see a more working line of the Akita. I've heard about peoples in Norway who actually use their Akitas for hunting moose. Here in Sweden, where I live, there are a few peoples how use their Akitas to search for wounded animals an so on. They're really good at it so I think it's pretty sad that no one is breeding on working lines.

  8. Kamijo: Det är trevligt at det finnas människor från Sverige också :) Jag tycker också mycket om suomenlapinkoiras, men dem är som ljudliga ;) Vad synd at du inte förstår finska! Men jag kan lite svenska. I Finnland vi har några akitas vem jaga älg.

    Walrus: From now on I will add more pictures than text so you can stay uppdated. Or maybe I just write a little abstract in the end :)

    To be honest, I don't know yet where or who is the pup coming from, because I have no connections to Japan or the breeders, and I'm importing it with my shiba's breeder (actually Maru is Japan import also) who has been many times in Japan and imported many akitas and shibas from there.

    But hopefully soon I will know. I doubt we are taking the pup from the actively hunting lines, but that wouldn't be a problem anyway because I do a lot of blood tracking with my shiba, next year we are going (hopefully) to the official exams too! Hunting elks sometimes would be an option, too, because my stepdad is an active hunter.

    Do you think kishu would work for elks? Because my shiba is chasing all animals, no matter how big they are but she is so silent so I'm too worrying kind to take her to hunt elks, I think it would be to risky for her.

  9. I think tracking/hunting elk would be possible with Kishu. If you ever do, please send me pics/video!