Loki and Jujube with another child

Last night, we had a couple and their two year old boy over for dinner.

How did our pups do? Well, Jujube was an angel, like always. She's such a sweetie and we're so glad that we have her. For one thing, it's so nice to say to a child that while you can't touch that one (referring to Loki), you can pet and hug this one (Jujube).

Loki is slowly improving with kids, but he's still quite wary. He didn't bark at the child as much as he has in the past with other kids of that age. But he did growl on two occasions.

The first growl came when the boy went to pet Loki. Growl. I had to explain that he could pet the dog with the pink collar, but not the dog with the green collar. Good thing this kid already knew his colors.

The boy was having quite a bit of fun with Jujube. She stood there and let him do pretty much anything to her. Pet her, hug her, follow her around. After he had his fun hugging Jujube, he suddenly went to hug Loki. In that split second, my heart simultaneously raced and stopped. Loki let out his warning growl, and we all shouted at the boy to let Loki go.

His mom asked, "Oh but he won't bite, right?"

I immediately replied that Loki might. Even after a year of no bites, I still remain cautious about Loki, especially around children. I do tell people that he will bite. I sense that Yun may disagree with me on this. Yun probably wouldn't want to alarm people the way I do. But I absolutely do not want any kids getting bit by Loki, and a good, honest warning will prevent that from happening.

In the end, I think Loki was great. He gave the boy warning growls with nothing more. The boy heeded those warnings and Loki learned that a warning growl is a sufficient to communicate his displeasure. Of course, I'd prefer Loki to be more like Jujube in his friendliness towards children, but I'm happy with what I've got so far.  Loki may never truly be good with children, but with ever experience, he gets just a little bit better.


What nicknames do you call your dog(s)?

For Loki, we got
  • Loki-boki
  • Lokkers
  • Lokkers-bokkers
  • Puppers-snapers
  • Lo-bo
  • Roki
For Jujube, we got
  • Juju
  • Ju-be-joos
  • Juju-boo-boo
  • Juju-bunny
  • Juju-bus
  • Ju-bo

Great video from CuteOverload

Over at CuteOverload, there is a great video of a black and tan shiba. Too cute!! I had to share.

Baby feeding Juju

Baby thinks it's funny when Juju licks his hand. Juju thinks rice cereal is yummy. These two are going to develop such a great relationship.

Happy Birthday Loki!

It's Loki's fourth birthday today! I can't believe he's already four!

But more importantly, we're celebrating the fact that he's not bitten anyone for the past year! One full year of no bites! We used to have aggression problems with Loki. (See here and here and here and here.)

After we hired the dog behaviorist, we changed our approach with Loki, and his behavior improved. Her assessment was that Loki had fear aggression, not dominance aggression. And we should respect the way he tried to communicate to us. Thus, if he showed his teeth or growled, we'd respect that rather than try to correct it.

I remain cautious around Loki and cautious about when the baby is near Loki. I try to make sure that Loki has positive associations with the baby, and I don't think that he'd do anything to the baby, but I also don't let my guard down.

Anyways, a big fat YAY for a full year of no bites!

Interview with Jenna Gates

Jenna was always surrounded by dogs as well as horses until she moved to NYC in the 1980s. Then, after over 15 years without a pet, she welcomed Snickers, a shiba inu, into her life. A couple years later, in 2006, she founded a shiba meetup group in NYC. Then after about a year, Jenna founded the NYC Shiba Rescue (NYCSR). She is a past president and a current member of the board of directors for NYCSR. In addition to her work in Shiba rescue, Jenna also educates the public about shibas and responsible pet ownership. She helped to establish The Anipal Times. As if this weren't enough to keep Jenna occupied, she also does therapy work with Snickers, and they are registered pet partners of the Delta Society.

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to interview Jenna.

1. How did you first become interested in Shibas?

Honestly, the breed choice was mostly my daughter's decision. Snickers, my first Shiba, was originally meant to be her dog. Like most kids, she wanted a puppy from a very young age. When she was about eight years old, we moved into a dog friendly apartment, so I told her to start researching breeds and we would get a puppy. My mom gave her a "dogalog" - a book of dog breeds with history, typical personality information, and info on grooming, energy level, etc.

She initially picked out 20 breeds that she thought were cute. Then she went through that list and eliminated breeds that (1) wouldn't do well in the city, (2) couldn't stand the summer heat or winter cold of NYC, (3) required a lot of grooming, or (4) wouldn't do well in a small apartment. That narrowed the list to about six breeds, so we went online and did more in-depth research on each of those six. She managed to cut the six down to two: the Cairn Terrier and the Shiba Inu - two very different breeds.

She made notes of pros and cons of the breeds, but she couldn't decide between the two. I have always had a strong preference for Spitz-type breeds and I particularly like independent-minded dogs, so I asked her if I could make the tie-breaking decision. She said yes and I chose the Shiba.
2. Why do you love this breed?

As I mentioned above, I've always had a fondness for spitz-type dogs. My first dog (who was mine as opposed to a family dog) was a Norwegian Elkhound my father gave me when I was a teenager. His name was cacci and he was my best buddy. I love Huskies and Malamutes and the other Nihon Ken breeds as well. I grew up around my mom's Pekingese dogs. After cacci came to live with us, my dad and I would say "Those (meaning the Pekes) are pets, but he (meaning cacci) is a DOG." That sort of explains how I feel about the spitz breeds; they're DOGS. They're closer to their genetic roots. So many of the "pet" breeds, and even many hunting breeds, display so much neoteny. The spitz breeds seem more real to me. When we were researching breeds, I was very enamored of the idea of an "apartment sized" spitz.
When Snickers came to live with us,
it was like a part of nature - something primitive -
had moved into our Manhattan apartment.
He changed our lives in so many good ways.

3. Are rescue shibas good for first time dog owners?

I don't think there is a single answer for this question because there is no single "rescue Shiba" personality. I believe that there are two reasons for this:

1. - Rescue Shibas are not clean slates like puppies. They've had experiences - some good, some bad, some horrible - before arriving in rescue. These experiences have already had an impact on their personality and temperament beyond their genetic breed predispositions.

2. - I haven't crunched any numbers to prove this, but my impression from experience with multiple rescue Shibas is that rescue Shibas are statistically less like the standard Shiba personality than Shibas from reputable breeders. My theory is that since so many rescue Shibas are mixes or poor representations of the breed from puppy mills and back yard breeders, they come from a much more varied (non-Shiba) gene pool, which results in fewer Shiba-like personalities.

NYC Shiba Rescue has rescued about 80 Shiba Inus and Shiba mixes over the past few years. A fairly high number of those were dogs that would definitely NOT have been good for first time owners. Rescues can be fearful and reactive - a combination that should only be handled by experienced owners. On the other hand, we've also had a number of incredibly well socialized, easy-going Shibas who were adopted out to first time owners with great success. We've also had a few older, more sedate, fosters who were perfect for first time and/or less active owners.

The beauty of adopting a rescue dog from a foster organization - for first time owners especially - is that, for the most part, you know what you're getting. These dogs have been living in foster homes, interacting with others, being observed and trained and socialized. I actually believe that a Shiba Inu puppy is a terrible choice for the majority of first time dog owners, but the right rescue Shiba can be a fantastic first dog.
4. Why should someone looking for a shiba consider a rescue?

Other than the advantages of rescues that I mentioned above, most Shiba puppies are EXTREMELY CHALLENGING. Unless it is a special needs dog or a dog with behavior issues, getting a rescue will be much easier than raising a puppy.

Saving a life is always a good thing.
Every time a rescue dog is adopted,
a foster home is freed up for another dog at risk.

The wait for a puppy from a reputable breeder can be long. Buying from anyone other than a reputable breeder is directly supporting the ongoing abuse and neglect of dogs in puppy mills. There are rescue Shibas all over the country looking for someone to love. Why wait?
5. What would you tell someone who might be interested in helping out with a shiba rescue, but doesn’t know where to start?

Start by finding the Shiba rescue nearest you. There is an up-to-date list of Shiba rescues in the US here -> http://shibas.org/rescue.html. Contact the nearest rescue and find out what they need. Rescue groups are all run by every day people volunteering their time to do whatever they can. They'll be grateful for your efforts.

Fostering, of course, is the cornerstone of rescue work. I understand that some people can't do it, but I'll never understand the people who simply won't do it... the ones with excuses like "I'll get too attached." I've never quite understood how letting a dog die in a shelter is better than getting "too attached." Fostering is an incredible experience for humans and dogs alike. Anyone who really loves their dog, should be able to spread that love and squeeze in a temporary resident every now and again! A rescue group without foster homes is basically spinning its wheels. You can help to some degree, but not very much. Foster homes are CRITICAL to saving dogs from shelters and abusive/neglectful owners.

That said, yes, there are jobs for people who can't or won't foster. Anyone who cares can help with whatever skills they have and should contact their local rescue group. If they don't HAVE a local group - and they're really motivated and ready to work - they can start their own! All it takes is a few people who want to save Shibas and some will power and motivation.
6. What are the best and worst aspects of rescue work?

The single BEST aspect of rescue work
is knowing you've made a difference.
I am proud to have helped every dog that I have assisted with rescuing - by evaluating dogs, doing home visit, processing adoption applications, training volunteers, driving transports, fostering dogs... each task has directly affected dogs at risk and made their lives better. There is nothing better than getting an email from a past adopter with photos of a happy, spoiled dog who WOULD HAVE DIED if not for the efforts of rescue. Honestly, it just doesn't get any better!

There are other benefits as well. I've made some of my BEST friends in rescue. When dynamic people with a shared interest and goal come together, awesome things can happen and that's a rewarding experience. I've learned more about dog training, health, veterinary care and nutrition than I would have otherwise and I put that knowledge to use for my own Shibas every day.

The worst aspects are (1) knowing you can't do it all and (2) learning to accept that some people just aren't going to help. It's hard to come to terms with the fact that we can't rescue every dog (Keiko for example) and can't necessarily rehome every dog we rescue (Lola for example). It's also really difficult when you're working your ass off and people around you aren't willing to do anything. (I don't mean people with different causes. My own parents, for example, have never made a donation to NYCSR, a 501(c)(3) started by their daughter! Dogs aren't their thing though; they give all their money to their church, which I understand. Another friend of mine understands my obsession for saving dogs, but he spends his time and effort helping runaway kids and female victims of domestic abuse. We have different causes and I can respect that.) It's the people who claim to love the breed but then make no effort to help who will make you CRAZY after a while in rescue. You just have to learn to let it roll off of you so you can keep going.
Each dog saved is worth all the frustration.

Jujube chasing her tail

From time to time, Jujube chases her tail. Sometimes she does it in conjunction to her Shiba 500 or when she's playing with Loki. Loki doesn't chase his tail. Such idiocy is beneath him.

It's only 5 seconds, but it's the best I could do:

Loki, my protector

In our family, we joke about the fact that Loki is my protector. I don't really know how he feels or what he thinks, but it sure does seem like he's my protector. If Yun and I kiss for longer than a second, Loki will come marching in and start barking at Yun. Nothing seems to get him off the couch faster.
"Bark, bark, bark! Stop attacking my mommy!" (Or at least that's what we like to think.)
Sometimes, when we are being playful and Yun's teases me by picking me off the ground, I yell out, "Loki! Come save me!" And sure enough, he does. He's my faithful servant.

Do your dogs react when you kiss your significant other?

Interview with Jen on rescue dogs and fostering

Growing up, Jen was always surrounded by dogs. There were Irish Setters, Hounds, Poodles, German Shepherds, Terriers, Dalmations, Huskies, and mixes. As a child, her first dog was a Beagle/Basset mix named Woodsie. Interestingly, no Shibas. They came along later in her life -- in her early twenties.

 "I’ve always felt so connected to dogs, drawn to them.
I learn a lot about myself through them and feel like I'm more humane (yes, humane!) because of them."
-- Jen of Inu-Baka

During her early teens, Jen's godmother introduced her to the world of dog rescue, and Jen began fostering Chihuahuas for a week at a time. Through the years, she has fostered for a no kill shelter, on her own, for a Basset rescue, for a Shiba rescue, then all breed rescue, and now for her local shelter. All the while, she blogs about her experiences with dogs at Inu-Baka, which means "crazy about dogs." Yes, Jen is.

I admire her passion for rescue work and am so glad to have the opportunity to interview her.

1. How did you first become interested in shibas?
It all started with a neighbor. Yuka was a marvelous, beautiful, interesting older woman who lived on the same block as one of our previous apartments. She started talking to me because I was always with a different dog, and she wanted to know why.

We got to be pretty good friends, she taught me how to roll sushi and pronounce words like domo arigato and itadakimasu. One day she asked my husband what he thought of our “revolving door dog habit” and he told her how he was more of a cat person. She then told us about her family’s dogs – Shiba Inu - cat like, independent, fussy, loyal, and treasured dogs. It was enough that we started researching them and found Tsuki within 4 months. Yuka named Tsuki. My husband has since declared himself a dog person!
2. I've followed your blog for awhile now and you seem to have a love / hate relationship with shibas. Why is that?
Honestly, I really don’t know. I certainly have an appreciation for the breed, and I have a definite soft spot when one is in need (like with Rudy)… but all in all I don’t want to live with more than the two I have now. If that makes any sense. My inus are well adjusted, awesome dogs. I’ve met more shibas that have attitude & quirky behavior issues (normal for shibas) than I have well adjusted (as dogs go) ones. So, maybe I’m just comfortable with my two as they are now.

The more foster experience I have, the more I realize that maybe I’m not as true a “shiba person” as I thought. I’m just a dog person.
3. Are rescue shibas good for first time dog owners?
I think so. Wonderful inus of all ages are displaced due to human circumstances. Most times if any “issues” are present, they are also due to human error (like a shiba that isn’t yet housebroken, etc). More often than not you get a dog that just needs a few weeks of adjustment, proving to be a really awesome dog thereafter.

A prospective owner just needs to be fully aware of what a Shiba is and can be (the good and the bad), and be ready to dedicate themselves to their dog. Same as if you were buying a puppy, I’d hope.

Even if I don’t want any more shibas in my life, my Kitsu (adopted by us when he was 1y/o) is the epitome of devotion and love in a dog. The bond we share with him is so special, because he is now forever home.
4. Should someone looking for a shiba consider a rescue?
Absolutely. There can never be any guarantees when raising a puppy or finding an adult dog. You have the perfect example with your dogs, Loki is probably a lot different than you anticipated he would be, and Jujube fit in very well as an adult.

The benefit of rescue is that someone is telling you what you will likely get with this individual dog. So, really, you might be better prepared for your dog if you go through a rescue that fosters its dogs.
5. If someone is considering adopting a rescue shiba, is there any difference in getting one from a foster home versus one from a shelter?
Yep, see #[4]. Shibas in the shelter deserve the same consideration as those in rescue. I think for a less experience shiba person, or someone who may never have owned a dog before, adopting from a rescue who fosters their dogs can shed more light on that dog’s needs, limitations (like diet), quirks, likes, dislikes, etc.
6. What would you tell someone who might be interested in helping out with fostering a shiba?
Go for it. Honestly, what can you lose? If you have enough interest to consider it, just do it once and see if it’s a good fit for you. Getting involved with an organized rescue group can help ease you into the transition of fostering. It’s just like getting another dog, except maybe you don’t have to pay vet bills!
7. What are the best and worst aspects of foster work?
Best? Getting to bond with so many amazing dogs.
Worst? The bittersweet goodbyes. I have an easier time knowing these dogs are getting an upgrade from my care, their very own home. So, even the worst aspect isn’t all that bad!

Happy New Year!

I think its cute when the dogs use the crates on their own. It's like they know where they are supposed to go even when no one tells them. And this doesn't happen too often. Just sometimes. Most times we find the dogs in our bed or on the couch.
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