The Cat

Our Christmas visit to my parents' home was the second time that Loki got to live with the cat. This time was much better than last time. They were able to co-habitate peacefully with human supervision. Yay! We were all very glad the two of them were able to lay calmly in the same room.

The cat still didn't like Loki much. He would hiss and meow when Loki came within a yard of him. But as long as there was some distance between the two, they were fine with each other. Loki was still curious about the cat, but we made sure that the cat had his personal space.

Also, as long as there was human supervision, Loki never ate the cat's food. Loki only tried once. After he was prevented from eating it that one time, he never tried again in our presence. But one morning, the humans who didn't sleep in went out shopping, and the human who did sleep in let Loki roam freely in the common area. Upon returning home, the cat food was gone. Bowl licked clean. Poor cat.


Loki received more presents than anyone! Craziness. We sure are good at humanizing our pets.

Rawhide from us

Treats in a ball from my sister
A football from my dad
And lastly, a Tuffies toy from our Cavalier friends Ellie & Aidan

Merry Christmas!

Loki wishes everyone a Merry Christmas today! He's very grateful that we aren't subjecting him to silly reindeer antlers or a Santa hat this year. We are spending the holidays at my parents' home, and we hope that all of you are spending time with your loved ones too.

Advice on Finding a Shiba Inu

Someone asked for my advice on finding a Shiba Inu, so here it is!

Many dog lovers will recommend that you adopt a rescue. The reasoning goes: Why buy a puppy when there are so many abandoned dogs in need of a loving home?

I actually do not recommend a rescue, if you are dead set on a Shiba Inu and you are a first time dog owner. With a rescue, there is a great deal of uncertainty. You do not know how it was raised, socialized, trained, or bred. You also do not know of any health risks. I think this uncertainty is more manageable with other dog breeds than a Shiba Inu. You have to be realistic about your own ability to raise and train a potentially difficult dog. An improperly socialized Shiba may require rehabilitation, and you need to be prepared for that possibility. Cesar Millan certainly makes dog training/rehabilitation look easy on TV, but even he took Marley for himself to deal with (ep. on March 28, 2008). Raising a dog is a skill that you learn from experience, not from reading or watching. Therefore, if you have plenty of experience with dogs, especially primitive breeds (Siberian Husky, Basenji, Chow-Chow, Akita, or Alaskan Malamute), then by all means, go ahead and consider adopting a rescue.

Otherwise, I recommend finding a reputable breeder. The first place to look is: Next, look at regional clubs:

I found Loki’s breeder on the webpage of the Shiba Club of Southern California. But now that the webpage no longer exists.

Loki’s breeder is Kari-on Akitas. As the name implies, she breeds Akitas as well as Shibas. She is located in the dessert in Southern California. She also boards and grooms dogs. I highly recommend her.

I have also heard good things about Copperdot Shibas (Northern California) and Jogoso Shibas(Southern California), but I have no experience with either of them.

Breeders are a good source for both puppies and adults. As you may have noticed, I looked for a young adult for our second dog, not a puppy.

Lastly, I’ll state the obvious, just in case it isn’t obvious, don’t buy a puppy from a pet store, at least not in the U.S. Puppies in pet stores are supplied by puppy mills. Dogs from puppy mills are not necessarily of good health and are not necessarily treated humanely.

P.S. I do believe that it is theoretically possible to mass produce puppies in a humane way. The problem isn’t the mass production part, it’s the humane part. I have heard that in Japan, it is common and acceptable to buy a shiba at a pet store. These pet stores are supplied by good breeders and the industry is well-regulated, possibly by the government.

A purse!

I was getting tired of using plastic grocery bags as poop bags, mainly because they often have holes in them. So I finally decided to buy poop bags and a little holder for them.

I picked this one out at our local retail store. Isn't it cute?
Then I got home and showed Yun. He didn't say anything.
I asked, "Don't you like it?"
He replied, "It's a purse."

Right, I guess men don't really want to carry cute, little purses as poop bag holders. Whoops, didn't think of that when I was making my selection.


Dogs with double coats regulate their body temperature by shedding off and growing in their undercoat. If it's colder, they grow more undercoat. If it's warmer, they grow in less of an undercoat.

Now that we have moved into a colder climate, Loki is FLUFFY! I've never seen his coat so full. His belly is also completely fluffy. In the past, you could see his pink skin on his underside pretty easily between the sparse hair.

Consequently, he looks bigger. But really, it's just all fur.

(living in So. California)

(living in DC Metro area):

Can you tell the difference? The camera can't quite capture the thickness of his undercoat. But he definitely is fluffier now than ever before.

Hm... does that mean that the spring time blowing coat season will be worse?

Loki's new lounging area

The couch is so passe. The new, hip lounging area is the stairs. Very comfy. Loki can dangle his limbs. And most importantly, he can look down upon everyone else.

He doesn't look so happy with the paparazzi in this picture.

Advice on an exercise pen

Before we got Loki, we prepared a few items for his arrival. One of these items was an exercise pen. I ordered it from along with his wire crate and a top for the exercise pen. Shibas are notorious escape artists.

Loki usually isn't, but just the other day, we were puzzled as to how he managed to open our back door and let himself inside our home when we clearly put him in the backyard and closed the door. Well, I guess that's not exactly escaping out, but rather escaping in. Anyways, I digress.

I suggest that if you want to use an exercise pen, buy one that is at least 48" high or buy a top. I opted for the latter. Loki's pen is actually only 24" high. Pretty short. But we used the top to ensure that he couldn't climb out. There are 8 sides to it, so I typically made it into a square of 4 ft. by 4 ft. But it's possible to shape it into an octagon, like in the picture. (If you get the pen top, then you have to shape it like a square in order to fit the top.)

We used the exercise pen during his puppy days for potty training and also as a place for time outs. In terms of discipline, it was just a place for him to calm down and be ignored. As for potty training, in the early days, I put down a sheet of plastic and then a piece of carpet. The plastic I got from a local fabric store. It was near the section with vinyl table cloths. And the carpet I got was indoor-outdoor carpet from Home Depot. This was all to protect our carpet from accidents. I suppose that it helped, but in retrospect, I think I was overly protective of our carpet. It's really not a big deal if your carpet gets soiled. You just clean it up.

We used the exercise pen for potty training in the same manner that you would use a crate for crate training. Many experts don't suggest this, because the area is too large, so a puppy will soil one corner and then retreat to the other end for sleeping and eating. In my one experience with potty training Loki, using the exercise pen for potty training wasn't a problem.

I used an exercise pen, because I felt that it was more humane to confine him in an exercise pen rather than a crate. I know some would say that a crate is perfectly fine, and I'm not going to debate that. I'm not a dog expert. Loki is my first dog. So maybe a crate is fine. But in any case, I mostly used his exercise pen for confinement in the way you might use a crate.

Potty training never truly ends

Perhaps we became over confident in Loki’s potty training. Perhaps our new house is too big. Perhaps it’s just a fluke. But we found a peeing accident in our basement a few days ago. We found it in the same area that Loki had his pooping accident from when he ate too many almonds.

Perhaps we became over confident in Loki’s potty training. When we moved into our new home, we did not take precautions to ensure that he didn’t have any bathroom accidents. We were confident that he was well potty trained. He has done very well living in a variety of places (two different apartments, two homes of relatives, and a hotel room). I’ve read material from dog experts saying that dogs do not generalize. Just because a dog is trained to not potty in your house doesn’t mean that it is able to generalize that concept to not go potty in all indoor facilities. But after living in a variety of places and seeing that nothing bad happened, I let my guard down. We didn’t keep a close eye on him while in our new home.

Perhaps our house is too big. We moved from an apartment of about 700 sq ft to a townhouse that is triple that in size. Loki hangs out mostly on the main floor (which has his preferred couch, the kitchen, and dining room) and our bedroom. He spends the least time in the basement. He doesn’t eat there, sleep there, or play much there.

Perhaps it’s just a fluke. We understand that the almond incident was unique and not Loki’s fault. We washed the area down as best we could. We cleaned the carpet by hand, sprayed on Nature’s Miracle, and then even rented a steam cleaner from the grocery store to steam clean the area. Either there was still some smell that lingered even after we washed it, or Loki decided that the basement is still the best place to go because that’s sufficiently far from his living quarters. I don’t know.

The lesson today, pups, is that it’s always possible to have a bathroom accident, even with the best of dogs.

Loki's First Snow

Last night was the first snow of the winter. It was hardly much. Just a little bit of flurries. Loki didn't think anything of it. Just a tiny bit of snow doesn't quite have the same effect as if you woke up one morning to see a thick blanket of snow covering the world outside your window.

Generally, he doesn't seem too affected by weather - rain or snow. He just goes about his business as usual.

See, not much snow. In fact, I'd bet people in colder climates wouldn't even count this as the first snow.

Sniff, sniff, sniff. Does it feel cold on his nose? I don't know. I would think so, but he didn't react any differently to it than normal.

A second dog!

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our search for a second dog has ended. We have decided to adopt Essie from Loki's breeder. She is 3 years. In her last pregnancy, she only had one pup and she had to have a c-section. Apparently, when you only have one pup, labor is harder, because there are no other pups to help stir labor. (But what happens to the last pup of every pregnancy? Isn't that the same?) In any case, there were sufficient complications that she required a c-section, and consequently, she will no longer be bred.

Right now, she is still being a mother to her little pup, so we will have to wait a couple of months before we get her.

Holidays and Dogs

This year, we hosted Thanksgiving. My parents, my sister, and Yun's parents all convened at our new house. All the people got along fine, but Loki didn't care for all of our visitors. I think the entire ordeal just caused him lots of unnecessary stress.

He barked lots at our guests. And I mean LOTS. It was infuriating, annoying, and frustrating. I felt bad for both him and our guests. He was very stressed, and I was afraid that our guests felt unwelcome by all the barking. In the beginning, I think that he perceived our guests as intruders. Or maybe he was just barking because there was too much chaos and commotion. Who knows?

Yun's parents stayed for an entire week, and Loki kept barking. We speculate that perhaps he felt that these people were now part of our pack, and he could move up the social ladder. We don't really know what goes on inside his head. But slowly with time, he did improve. It took a bit more patience than I had. Definitely by the last day, he was pretty good, but still not 100% calm.

Here are some resources for dog owners about the holidays:
AKC's Tips
Pet Education

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

Oh Crap!

I think it began on Sunday night. Loki pooped three times in one outing. He usually goes once or twice a day. Monday morning, he woke me up at 5:30am. Actually, that’s when my alarm normally goes off. But his intense staring was more powerful than the snooze button. No snooze for me. I dragged my feet out of bed and took him out in the freezing cold. He practically ran to the patch of grass up at the front of the townhouse community and immediately went once, then twice, and then a third time. Later that morning, Yun texted me, saying that Loki again pooped twice with him.

Is he sick? Does he have worms? Wait, we don’t even know if excessive pooping is a symptom of worms.

His poop had lots of nuts in it. I know that Yun’s mom had been giving him almonds as a treat. But she only gave him one or two. He’s pooping nuts left and right!

Every time, one of us took him out, he was pooping multiple times. And much to our chagrin, yesterday was the very first time that Loki has had a pooping accident in our house. (Well, technically, he did have one small poop accident on plastic in his exercise pen during his first week with us as a 9-week old. But we don’t count that one. Shh.) He had such an impressive record before. We loved boasting about how he’s never had a pooping accident. Now we can’t say that anymore.

Where in the world were all these nuts coming from? Again, we inquired with Yun’s mom, but she said she only gave him one of two. Finally, it dawned on me to ask if Loki’s getting access to nuts that he’s not supposed to. Yun’s mom didn’t think of it originally, but yes, that must be it! She brought something like 3 lbs of almonds with her. (Leave it to an Chinese mother to bring pounds and pounds of food while she visited over Thanksgiving, as if we were starving children.) And now that she thought of it, she did notice that her supply had suddenly dwindled. That solves the mystery of the excessive poop. Who knows how much he ate?

The morale of the story: Dogs cannot digest almonds.

Don’t try this at home. You’ll get lots of poop.
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