Sunday, August 22, 2010

View blog from Sunday 7/18/10

and then compare that photo there with the one here of Samauri. Can this possibly be the same Akita -- ????

Yes it can - testament to what loving care can do for an Akita who has been badly treated, woefully underfed, never loved & given no vet care in his original home -- he blossomed in ARWNY's care at Joann Dimon's home with her family once he came to rescue.

And happily living now with his family that adopted him, you can see this happy, loving boy has become what all our Akitas should be -- stress-free, happy and beloved!

Thank you to everyone for caring about Samauri. Obviously his original home didn't so I am just happy he ended up with us at ARWNY so he could be cared for properly!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Work and dreams....

Work, for good or bad, is a necessity in most of our lives. Its just such a shame that in mine, it interferes with what I want to really do -- Akita rescue. I've been out of work now for a very long time - having both knees replaced was a big deal so I've been on work disability since the first knee operation. Now I'm faced with having to go back to work. Most likely to a day job. UGH!! Most likely to one that will sap all my rapidly draining mental ability so that I'll be a zombie when I leave at nite.

OH NO -- who will answer all the emails I get daily? Who will get "snarky" on facebook on our pages there? Who will find links to help those who ask questions on our yahoo groups or via the website? Who will help Ms. Nancy figure out all the doggies in need & how we can help?

Most of all -- who will do the blog???

If I have to go back to a daytime job & sit in front of a computer all day listening to people whine at me while on the phone in customer service again, when I get home at nite I'll be zoned out and not want to get online after work or on my time off work....whatever shall I do???

If only I could win the lottery or find a fairy godmother to grant me a wish or two -- then I could just do what is more important than WORK -- and that's RESCUE!!

Oh to dream.....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shelter assessments....

can be both a curse and a blessing. There are shelters we work with that we know are right-on when they call us about an Akita. If they tell us the Akita is lovely & sweet, we know it is. But then there are shelters that we can't trust, places that change personnel & "testers" too often and have methods of testing we can't rely on.

Take Matheo for instance. This pup came into the big NYC shelter as an owner surrender. That means, right off the bat, he's doomed, because owner surrenders can be euthanized as soon as they walk thru the door; unlike strays, they don't need to be held for any length of time so Matheo's time was extremely limited. The email that came that day about him from the shelter said he was 2+ yrs of age and food/toy possesive -- but not rawhide possesive. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm, that's a bit odd. Possession is possession and usually if an Akita is toy possessive, it follows they would also be rawhide possessive. That got us thinking...

Now, I'll be totally upfront. I will NOT deal with nor rehome any Akita who is truly food possessive or "possession" possessive. Akitas are a tricky breed -- intelligent enough to work around most issues & able to rethink most behaviorists' & trainers' methods. I've known of Akitas to hide these traits while in the shelters & in the care of some rescues until they get rehomed, where they grow comfortable enough to start showing their "true" nature when rehomed in a short period of time -- which is why I don't like any rescue Akita over the age of 6 months to go to a home unless its been in our care at least 3-4 weeks. I want to know everything about the Akita so we push to find out what triggers each Akita has & what will set that Akita off -- because placing a food aggressive Akita is a very dangerous thing to do for any breed rescue but especially with a breed as big & tough as an Akita. Akitas that guard their food bowls/toys/bones are often very upfront about it, snarling if you even walk in the room they are in or walking past them while they eat or chew on a bone. But there are Akitas who act perfectly normal until the day you forgot to add something to the bowl & go to reach for it, or the day the Akita grabs something from the trash or off a shelf or table and when you go to reach for it to ask for it back; you find yourself being badly bitten by an Akita you never knew had any possession issues. Its our job to find these things out before placement, so its why we work with them so much while in our care.

Sometimes, in other breeds, with enough re-training, you can break a dog of food aggression because other breeds have different personalities. In my experience however, you cannot break an Akita of true possession issues. If the Akita has true food/possession issues (and isn't a starved, hungry Akita from some puppymill situation where it never knew when it would get food again) then its a situation I'm not willing to handle. I won't put humans at risk for being attacked over a food bowl or toys on the ground or walking past a rawhide on the floor. There are some good training sites that help people to understand how to raise a puppy properly to prevent this issue
but with an adult Akita, I'm not willing to deal with it because my experience has taught me that humans WILL get bitten, that the Akita will NOT get over it; so I'm not willing to see someone get bitten in trying to overcome these issues. You have to remember -- we are working to make each Akita in our care safe to be rehomed to the greater number of homes out there - humans tend to forget what we tell them, that they can't touch, pet, hug a dog while it has a bone or is eating among other things -- we can't take the risk that an Akita we rehome will end up in a place where it will react badly to the human error factor. So we must keep that human error factor in mind when deciding which Akitas are safe to rehome.

In the case of an Akita who comes in starving & is worried over its food bowl, that sometimes can work itself out; it all depends on the Akita itself, its past situation and what we know of its former living situation. Sometimes, an Akita that has been starved just has to learn food is always forthcoming which often happens very quickly - then the food issues become non-issues because the Akita is no longer starving, hungry or worried about where the next meal comes from. That I can work with, that I feel ok about handling; it shows itself quickly, within days, once the belly is always full and the Akita doesn't have to panic over where its next meal is coming from.

However, in Matheo's case, something about his shelter info just didn't sit right with us here at ARWNY. So Matt Dimon, Joann's wonderful experienced husband, offered to go to the shelter in NYC the next day to test this Akita himself - after all, Matt said, they 'shared a name' -- Matt is Matheo Dimon legally. If this Matheo the Akita showed any hint of possession issues with anything, Matt promised to help ease Matheo "Over the Rainbow Bridge" while at the shelter. What Matt found instead of food possession was an Akita in pain and a shelter system not set up to even notice or examine for pain before testing.

Matt went right into Matheo's run with him and found a very young male Akita with horrible skin issues under his coat -- oozing neck full of pus obviously from a collar left to embed into his skin & just recently removed. A shoulder open and raw, infected with likely staph or yeast infections. Underbelly raw, patches of skin showing thru the thin coat. Underweight at 90 lbs, Matheo wasn't the least bit food possessive or possesive of anything -- but he was against having some huge plastic hand poking his painful shoulder, pushing on his wounded neck. It had nothing to do with the food or the toys - it had everything to do with him hurting.

The 'tester' at this shelter admitted to Matt she didn't get close enough to this Akita to even see this as she was "afraid" of Akitas -- probably all big dogs but definately Akitas. So Matheo was labeled dangerous and not able to be rehomed. He was essentially condemned to death. He was also much younger than his shelter sheet said; within minutes he was looking to Matt for attention - probably the first positive attention he had ever had.

Luckily this shelter was close enough that we could personally evalute Matheo. But what happens when we aren't close enough and must trust a shelter to give us an honest evalution? We can't pick up the phone and call people asking them to go into a shelter near them and try to provoke an Akita to attack them over food. Yet that's what we need to know before-hand -before we take on an Akita whose personality might be in question, we need to know before we make all the effort to bring an Akita into our care in rescue from a long distance.

So what can be done to prevent mistakes like this from happening to other Akitas? Well, as many have discussed over and over -- an entire rehab of the shelter system needs to happen to change the "big picture" overall. Qualified trainers, with no breed-specific agendas of their own, need to be hired and do proper tests - not prod and poke some dog while he's eating, but actually work with the dogs to see if they are food possessive and not just reacting to some foreign plastic object hitting them on the neck, head or shoulders. Shelters need to rethink their personality assessments -- there are often underlying reasons of health that cause some dogs to react negatively to various scenerios. Health should be a primary consideration for any dog coming into the shelter system. Dogs coming into shelters are scared, stressed & terrified -- testing them the day they show up doesn't work and often this standarized test most shelters use doesn't work the same with an Akita as it will a Bichon, for example. Giving them time is the better indicator. I know shelters are overloaded, I realize there often isn't time so don't think I have blinders on or feel this is an easy fix. Its why I say - there needs to be an entire overhaul of the shelter system. We are failing the pets every day and it has to be changed. I just wish every shelter would get on the same page so we could all work together and help the animals. This is a subject for another day because its too big and too overwhelming for this discussion here.....

In addition, to prevent problems -- owners need to learn how to properly raise a puppy so it doesn't become food possessive. Owners often cause this in their puppies, then dump them when they get too big & the owners become afraid of them. So we need owners willing to raise their puppies right or we will keep on seeing these issues (along with a myriad of others!).

Rescues also need to work closely with each dog in their care to test for things like this before they rehome any dog. Taking any dog from a shelter one day and rehoming it the same day or the next day isn't doing rescue -- there are words for that but its not RESCUE. Rescue means we evaluate, work with, vet, properly temperament test and strategize over what home is best for this particular dog -- not just any home for any dog, but the right home for each individual dog in our care. That is what rescue should be about. Unfortunately its not always about that. But that's a subject for another day also.

Today -- I am just happy that Matheo has been saved and will be made healthy with ARWNY so he can grow up into the wonderful Akita we know he is. Hats off to the collective effort that made this happen so Matheo didn't die alone, scared and stressed in the shelter due to a poor shelter assessment.

***NEW NOTE: Matheo has been adopted by a police detective who adores him -- Matheo has shown himself to be a perfectly housebroken, well-behaved boy who has done well in his new home. His adopter could not be happier. ARWNY could not be happier. Thank heavens we did NOT take his initial evaluation at face-value!!***

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sign up NOW for the ACA National Akita Parade!

The premium list is posted on the Akita Club of America's website! YEAH!! Go to:

Scroll all the way thru to the last page -- page 13. Print it off, fill it in, and send it off with your $5.00 to enter! I've attached a picture of it here so you'll know which page you need to print off and sign!!

We are so very excited -- the ACA's National Specialty, to be held in Gettysburg PA this year, is the 25th Anniversary of the National Specialty. And its being held right here, in our area!!

We want to see as many adopted Akitas as possible in the parade -- so please, plan to join us on Friday 9/24/10 for this PARADE OF TITLEHOLDERS! If your Akita has any kind of title, like CD, TDI, etc by all means, we want you there too!!! The parade is a lovely event and highlights the rescues in a special way; it also shows the wonderful ways Akitas can be versatile!

If you have any questions at all about the Parade, just write me -- and I'll be more than happy to help!

So come one, come all -- don't miss out on a chance to see this wonderful National Specialty so close to our area and for sure don't miss out on the parade!!

On a great side note:

See the wonderful ARWNY booth while you are at the National -- our raffles are a sight to behold and you'll definately want to get some tickets -- you can get them ahead of time at

or start saving your money up now to buy tons of them at the show!! Either way -- just be sure to buy them as this raffle helps us fund our rescue efforts to save Akitas!

Friday, August 6, 2010

People can be so cruel...

and not just to the Akitas. To us too, the volunteers of Akita rescue. Those of us that give of our time as volunteers, getting no monetary reward for doing what we do. Those of us who often juggle 2 and 3 jobs so we can help the Akitas in our care better while in return we have no time for ourselves. Those of us who have no life of our own, because whatever spare time we have is spent doing rescue, don't deserve to be treated cruely when all we are doing is helping -- doing a job no one else wants to do.

Sometimes -- time slips away from us and we don't call someone back ASAP or email a reply immediately and then the nasty comments come, fast and furious. We get overwhelmed by emails & phone calls because we don't get 4 or 5 a day, we get hundreds; we get overwhelmed with spending hours on end with adopters; we get overwhelmed with trips to the vets with our rescues to get them healthy; we get overwhelmed with driving hours each way to get Akitas from one place to another to save them all week long. We all have families who suffer from lack of time with us because we are too often away on long transports, or at the kennel meeting with potential adopters or getting to know the Akitas that were given up so we can do successful adoptions in the future or pouring over applications & doing reference checks on them all. When we are supposed to be asleep, we are often instead loosing sleep while agonizing over decisions we must make; when we are supposed to be on our lunch hour at work relaxing, we are often hunched over our computers while eating something from a machine so we can read emails or catch up the latest veterinary news to help our Akitas; heck some of us have even spent our lunch hours at the kennel walking Akitas or helping water & feed them just so we can feel we are doing our share.

Few people walk in our shoes -- yet everyone wants to be our judge. If we don't answer an email immediately, we are labeled "uncaring" or "rude" or "rotten"; even worse, when we DO answer an email but not in the way the person wanted, we are "stupid", "idiotic" or often we are just plain "@#(*$&#(#*&#" to whoever wanted to dump their Akita on us or refused to follow our advice to help them get their Akita healthy again with the right methods or train their Akita to help it be a better family companion.

Sometimes we make mistakes in adoptions -- we chose someone we "think" is really great only to find out later they aren't what we thought they were. We aren't perfect because we are after all, human. We try our best but that's all we can do. Having an adopter turn on US, the very people they should be thankful for, is disheartening and sad. Everything we say gets turned around, misunderstood, ignored and ultimately things get uglier and uglier -- when all we had was the best interest of the Akita in mind. It breaks our hearts to have an adopter decide WE are the enemy when all we try to do is help. We want to help, we need to help, we volunteer expressly to help. Yet when an adopter turns against us because they don't want to follow our advice, its heartbreaking to us, in ways someone who is not an Akita rescue volunteer cannot understand.

People can be cruel to us, the very people they should be thankful for. We are the volunteers that do the dirty work - the things they don't want to do. We are the people who sob over their Akita when we have to euthanize it because they don't care enough to hold it in their arms and do it humanely. We are the ones that clean up the dog pooh, pee, vomit from their older Akitas they have dumped in a shelter to get rid of it with no feelings of loyalty to our majestic breed. We are the ones that do without vacations or trips because we can't be away from the rescue Akitas too long or we feel guilty. We are the ones that don't have new cars or fancy clothes because all our spare money goes to rescue to cover bills that donations can't reach far enough to cover.

We don't want parades in our honor or plaques hung on walls with our names prominently displayed. We don't want to be called "heros" or have songs written about us. All we ask for is respect. The one thing we sometimes do not get -- respect. Aretha spelled it out -- R E S P E C T -- not to hard to give to the people who do the jobs you don't want to do, refuse to do or just plain don't care enough to do -- just a little respect. Its not too much to ask for -- but it seems to be getting rare for us volunteers to get it from those around us anymore.

Maybe its a sign of the times - people have changed, maybe its to be expected. But I hope not, because its not anything I know I can get used to. So -- go ahead, walk in our shoes for a month, or just a week, even only a day, if you dare to. Do all we do, see all we see, experience all we experience. Perhaps then, instead of disrespect, you might decide we do, as volunteers in Akita Rescue, deserve a bit of respect.

A light might go off in your head and you might bite your tongue next time before spewing out something hateful. You might not write that nasty email or call one of us the names we often get called. You might actually realize we are helping, we are the volunteers needed for this job; that without us, there will be no one to save the Akitas we save, to rehome the Akitas we do rehome or help the Akitas we can help in many ways.

We aren't the enemy - so why do so many people try to make us out to be just that? And lest you think, when reading this post today, that I am just being a whiney, self-righteous b@tch for writing this - you are right. Tonite (its 3am BTW), I am feeling it deep in my soul; feeling that I'm tired of being taken for granted, spit on, yelled at, sick of viscious nasty emails from the very people I set out to help. That I'm tired of crying over other peoples' old, sick, unwanted Akitas, tired of loosing sleep figuring out how we are to care for so many with so few resources. You are right - I am being a whiney, self-righteous b@tch tonite.

But the one thing you can count on -- is that when I wake up in the morning, I'll be ready to start my volunteering all over again and this sad, sick feeling in my soul will pass -- as it always does. For the sake of the Akitas, you can count on that!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I want to quit....

A fellow rescuer posted this on facebook -- changed the breed to be AKITA so you'd all get the drift of what its like to do Akita Rescue -- could not have said it better myself, so hats off to this author --


*I want to quit!*
My health is bad. There are days I feel so terrible that I can barely move. My phone bills are outrageous, and I could have replaced my van with the funds I have spent these last 30 years---on animals that were not my own.

*I want to quit!*
I spend hours and hours emailing about dogs. There may be 500 messages when I start--and at 4 AM, when I finally shut down the computer, there are still 500 emails to be read.

*I want to quit!*
Gosh, I haven't the time left to email my friends. I can't remember the last book I read, and I gave up my subscription to my local newspaper---I used to enjoy reading it, cover to cover, but now it often ends up in the bottom of the squirrel's cage---unread.

*I want to quit!*
I've spent days emailing what seems like everyone---trying to find a foster home, help for a dog languishing in a shelter---but his time has run out, and the shelter has had to euthanize to make room for the next sad soul.

*I want to quit!*
I swear, I walk away from my computer to stretch my legs---let the dogs out---and come back to find another dog in desperate need. There are times I really dread checking my email. How will I find the funds, the help, to save yet another dog?

*I want to quit!*
I save one dog, and two more take its place. Now an owner who doesn't
want his dog---it won't stay in his unfenced yard. An intact male wanders... This bitch got pregnant by a stray... This 3-month-old pup killed baby chicks... The dog got too big... This person's moving and needs to give up his pet. I ask you, friends---what town, what city, what state doesn't allow you to own a pet?

*I want to quit!*
I just received another picture, another sad soul with tormented eyes that peer out of a malnourished body. I hear whimpering in my sleep, have nightmares for days...

*I want to quit!*
I just got off the phone. "Are you *Akita* Rescue? We want to adopt a male to breed to our female." How many times do I have to explain? I have tried to explain about genetics, about health and pedigrees. I explain that rescue NEUTERS! I usually end up sobbing, as I explain about the vast numbers of animals dying in shelters across the country, as I describe the condition many of these animals are found in. I wonder if they really heard me...

*I want to quit!*
It is not like I don't have enough rescues of my own to worry about---but others have placed dogs improperly and aren't there to advise the new owners.

*I want to quit!*
I have trusted the wrong people--- had faith and heart broken...

*I want to quit! AND THEN...*
My dog, lays his head in my lap, he comforts me with his gentle presence---and the thought of his cousins suffering stirs my heart.

*I want to quit! AND THEN...*
One of those 500 emails is from an adopter. They are thanking me for the most wonderful dog on earth---they cannot imagine life without their friend---their life is changed, and they are so grateful.

*I want to quit! AND THEN...*
One of my adopted Rescues has visited a nursing home. A patient that has spent the last few years unable to communicate, not connecting---Lifts his hand to pat the huge head in his lap, softly speaks his first words in ages--- to this gentle furchild.

*I want to quit! AND THEN...*
A Good Samaritan has found and vetted a lost baby, "I can't keep him, but I'll take care of him until you find his forever home."

*I want to quit! AND THEN...*
"Jamie took his first steps holding on to our Akita."
"Joan, you should see this dog nursing this hurt kitten!"
“I was so sick, and this dog never left my side..."

*I want to quit! AND THEN...*
I get an email from a fellow rescuer, "Haven't heard from you in a while---you OK? You know I think of you..."

*AND THEN... *
A dozen rescuers step up to help, to transport, to pull, and to offer encouragement. I have friends I have never seen, but we share tears, joys, and everything in between. I am not alone. I am blessed with family of the heart, my fellow Rescuers.

Just days ago it was a friend who shared her wit and wisdom, whose late night email lifted my heart. Sometimes it is friends who only have time to forward you a smile. Often, it is my friends who forward me the notices of dogs in need.

There are Rescuers who see a failing transport and do everything they can do find folks to pull it together for you. Rescuers who'll overnight or foster your dog while you seek transport. There are Rescuers not used to or comfortable with your breed, but who put aside their discomfort to help. There are Rescuers whose words play the music of our hearts. Foster homes that love your Rescue, and help to make them whole again---body and spirit. Foster homes that fit your baby in, though it may not be their breed. Rescuers whose talents and determination give us tools to help us. Rescuers we call on for help in a thousand ways, who answer us, who hear our pleas. Rescuers who are our family, our strength, our comrades in battle.

I know I cannot save every dog in need. I know my efforts are a mere drop in a sea. I know that if I take on just one more---those I have will suffer.

*I want to quit! But I won't. *
When I feel overwhelmed, I'll stroke my dog's head while reading my fellow Rescuers' emails. I'll cry with them, I'll laugh with them---and they will help me find the strength to go on.

*I want to quit! But not today.*
There's another email, another dog needing Rescue.

This piece is dedicated, with love and gratitude, to all my fellow Rescuers.

The author is unknown

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lets pretend for a moment that you are about to write a fictional story about an abused & neglected Akita -- so you have to come up some of the saddest situations you can imagine. So for the sake of your fictional story, just imagine a family decided one day not to feed their Akita anymore. Then imagine they let their Akita become infested with fleas & ticks to the point that the Akita has lost its plush fur and instead was covered in scabs & infections. Imagine again the family this Akita would defend with its life, that it still trusts totally, takes the Akita for a ride into one of the most dangerous cities in the USA today, then opens the car door without stopping & throws the Akita's emaciated body out onto the hot pavement. Heartbreaking fiction, right? Sad sad details guaranteed to make the public cry real tears!!

No need to imagine fiction, as this is Samurai's factual story.

Samurai was given a special name by the animal control officer who found this Akita under an abandoned car, fighting to stay alive with his will. Samurai had collapsed during the heat wave after he was thrown from that moving car. He had not eaten, or had water in 3 days. A citizen noticed Samurai's body laying motionless under the car and called for help. Samurai was taken to the vet hospital where he remained for 2 weeks until he was well enough to be released into the warm rescue arms of ARWNY.

Here are Joann Dimon's impressions after taking Sam to her home to foster:

"Upon meeting this approx. 18 month old male Akita I was taken aback, not so much at his appearance but the manner in which he greeted me. This big boy's fur-less tail never stopped wagging because Sam never stopped loving people despite what his owners had done to him. He has never met anyone of any age that he is not overjoyed to see. Samurai passed all of his temperament tests with flying colors and it does not stop there. Sam enjoys the company of female dogs & cats. He is housebroken, but does need leash work which we are working on now with steady improvement. Samurai has since been neutered and brought up to date on his shots; he tested negative on heartworm & Lymes. Samurai is a heavy-boned large-framed male that will need to gain another 30 pounds. You have to see the head on this boy-he is going to be a show stopper once he gets his coat back. Samurai can go to a home with children 10 and older who know how to treat and respect this special breed."

You can only imagine how sick we are over thinking someone would treat an Akita like this -- that anyone would be so uncaring or unthinking to do this to a magnificent Akita like Samurai. So now the hunt will be on to find the perfect, forever home for this wonderful Akita. Are you the special home we can entrust with loving Sam forever??