Tag Archive: dogs


Dogged Determination

The Akita, a Japanese breed of dog, is particularly known for its fierce and steadfast loyalty.  Originating in Japan, the breed almost died out during World War II when Akitas were killed for meat as well as for fur to line jackets.  It’s also believed that many Akitas died so that they would not fall into the hands of the western world.  The term “man’s best friend” rings especially true for the bond these Japanese dogs share with their masters. 

I myself own an Akita which I consider a once in a lifetime dog.  I suspect I will never feel as close a bond again with another dog as I do with her.  Topping out at 90 lbs for male Akitas, these dogs were used to hunt elk, boar, and bear and they won’t back away from any challenge.  If you meet an Akita it’s a good idea to wait for an introduction from the owner.  I highly doubt my Akita would ever bite, but she can be quite intimidating, and she’s a bit unsure whether she needs to guard me from strangers.  Much like the breed itself, she has small, erect ears and a curled tail.  Akitas are often confused with Siberian Husky’s and Alaskan Malmutes, partly because the coloring can vary on an Akita, especially in the US.

The most famous Akita of all time was named Hachiko.  He was born in 1923 and his owner, a professor at the University of Tokyo named Hidesaburo Ueno, adopted him a year later.  Hachiko and Professor Ueno would walk to the train station each and every morning.  The dog would find its way home, then return to meet Ueno every evening at the precise time his master would return home from work.  They did this for a year and four months (such a short period of time), but then Ueno died from a cerebral hemorrhage at work.  Hachiko never gave up searching for his master, and went faithfully to the train station each morning and night.  The entire country of Japan, known itself as fiercely loyal, celebrated this dog and his perseverance and even put up a bronze statue at the Shibuya train station.  Helen Keller was even given an Akita on her visit to Japan.

As I sit in my office, my Akita is lying in the day bed looking out the window, but nevertheless keeping guard over me.  The entire story of Hachiko makes me wonder how much we could accomplish if we only shared the Akita’s dogged determination.

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Our Deal With God

My two dogs are very much a part of my life, so much so that even if I were to start dating again (which seems somewhat dubious given my schedule), the man I date would have to make room for my Akita and Beagle on the bed.  The Beagle is quite particular and insists upon sleeping under the covers at the foot of the bed.  My Akita is a bit more understanding and will generally start out on the bed but move to the floor after an hour or so.

Our deal with God is that we get permission to love our animals with all our hearts, knowing all the time, however, that they will only live just so long, about as long as an adolescent.  What a raw deal!  I love both my dogs, but I have to confess that my Akita is, to me, a once in a lifetime kind of dog.  Perhaps it’s also your experience that you’ve had an animal who is, strangely enough, a role model to you.  A dog or cat which makes you want to be a better person, to scale the walls and use our precious little time on earth to make sure that what we do has meaning.  Sometimes an animal comes along who is irreplaceable.  I truly believe that no other dog will come along to make me forget my Akita.  I just know that we have a special bond that I doubt I will ever feel again.  The heart mourns, the heart goes on, but I believe I will never feel as close to anyone or anything else like I do Kierka.  She teaches me to face everyday fearlessly, and look for the many small joys in life as well as celebrating the big events too. 

Her greatest trait is that she has kind eyes, very soulful, almost as though you could see her spirit.  When my sister lost her dog a ways back, she was talking with her priest who told her that only humans have souls, but in his opinion, dogs have spirits which linger after they are gone.  I’ve heard a quote somewhere a while back that said, “You are only dead when no one remembers you anymore.”  I hope my animals will always be remembered the way the rest of my family will hopefully also be remembered.