My dog, Meiko is a Shiba Inu. Before my husband and kids came home from the owner that sold this breed I knew nothing of these dogs. I fell in love pretty easily. Now, he’s 15 years old and at the end of his life. Which is so hard for me and my family to accept the thought alone of letting go of him. He’s been incredible. Iffy at first and I questioned whether or not he would be good with kids. He grew on me.
He is actually growling in this picture. Sometimes, if you’d go to pick him up he was more like a cat, defiant. He would not want to be petted at all when he was laying down. The bigger I grew, the more afraid of him I’d get when I bent down just to give him a pet. He’d growl and actually snap, and I’d pull the hand back. Show him the leash and he’d spring to his feet! He loved taking walks. Still, I worried “is this a safe dog to have with kids?”
My son was 5 and totally in love with Meiko. He started walking him as a chore (my husband gave him) and I was not thrilled with that either. The idea of a young boy heading out, walking alone even in a quiet suburban neighborhood like mine. My son Rob is very kind and Meiko appreciated his demeanor and his love. Rob accepted the chore and those two grew very close.
My daughter Korin is a dancer, so she’d be busy every rehearsing dance and didn’t have as much time to bond with Meiko. Still, she started helping with the morning and afternoon walks. She too, fell in love with Meiko! Meiko had a special talent to show off to Korin. He could dance and jump too! He didn’t walk or run like normal dogs down a hill. Down our waterfront hill of three levels he “sprang” down each level of the hill. “Boing, Boing, Boing”. Was this something out of a cartoon or trick? I couldn’t believe it and have never seen anything quite like it. Also, Meiko loved to play “road trip”. When Meiko would see an opening in the doorway to the outside…he’d take it!
Bolting, faster than lightning he’d run out that door and I could not catch him. He of course thought it was a game and that we were all willing participants! We were desperate to catch him, as he could get hit by a car. Only Korin could corner and catch him. One night when he escaped, I had to go to the dance studio and pick her up so she could catch him. Down on the water he was sniffing, exploring, walking and springing fences from water front, to water front. Finally, she cornered him on a pier and grabbed his collar and slipped on the leash.
Days ticked by, Meiko grew. We walked, we kept trying to pet him and eventually he accepted those pets on his nose. Still, pet his body and he’d sometimes accept them, but mostly jump up to his feet and scamper off. We brushed the hair of his constantly shedding body, and he’d stand there for a few minutes, until he’d had enough and start running off. Cat/dog, was what I always thought about him.
Japanese mountain dog, with springing ability of a mountain goat. What the genetic heck is a Shiba Inu? Also, they dont’ bark. Once in a while if they have a possum cornered they “ruff, ruff” in a growl. They cry almost talking, if they’re hurt, like a “oo-lllll-ow” sound, very loudly and that brings all loving humans running. Otherwise, they’re able to sneak up on all ground creatures and we have found many with their feet chewed off in the yard, which was icky to say the least.
These days, I alone walk him at night. Very slowly at first I lead him out the door way and the leash helps me keep him steady on his wavering feet. I lead him right to the grass. He stubbornly insists on walking on the brick walkway. I don’t want him to fall, so I stand in his way to force him back to the lawn. He doesn’t understand, and he stands there as if confused. I feel bad, so I stand aside and let him walk where he wants. I feel like this is the least I can do, give him his freedom for a bit longer whilst he can at least walk. He falls a lot.
When he does, he lets out one of those loud howls, “A-Oooo-ow-lllll” that makes my entire household respond, come running. He pees on the wood floor; which is probably why he was getting up to come get us to walk him. I walk him quietly late at night. Sing a bit to him. I walk him in the morning, he falls, howls and I pet him until he recovers and then I continue. My neighbor says “when are you going to put him down”. I don’t bother to reply. I just walk him and sing a bit to him and go back inside and think “this is impossible”.