Monday, July 20, 2009

Off line...

I have my upcoming knee replacement surgery on 7/22/09. Thanks to everyone who has wished me well!! I look forward to getting back on line soon. But until then, send positive thoughts my way -- I want to be able to get back to physically handling the Akitas again so I'm more of a help to our rescue work!!! In the meantime, hug your Akitas for me!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Public education...

while you like it or not is being done by everyone that owns an Akita every time you step out the door, take a photo, write an email, post a video -- so its up to you to be sure its positive public education! In today's world, with cell phone videos, picture sites, YOUTUBE, Facebook, websites, blogs, etc -- everything we all do is some form of public education even if you don't realize it is. So its really vital that as Akita owners of any type (show, breeders, trainers, pet owners), we do the right things with our Akitas at all times. Because others are watching, possibly taking cues from us, or even worse possibly using it against our beloved breed. Animal Rights groups like PETA & HSUS are always watching, wanting to have something to use against us as pet owners since their hidden agenda is all about completely ending pet ownership. Our breed has it hard enough without adding anything as fuel to their fire. And then there are new Akita owners who see something being done and think its ok to do it with their Akita -- even if its NOT ok to do. Everything we say, we do, we post, we photograph, we send to anyone anywhere, instantly becomes some form of public education!!

So please remember -- if you are going to send pictures, post videos, or even just be out in the public's eye with your Akita on a walk, at a dog show, visiting a friend -- please always remember to conduct yourself in a way that presents our breed as positively as possible. Don't put your Akita in a situation that could result in someone photographing or sending video of your Akita in a negative way. I love this breed so much and want all the public education out there about our breed to be as positive as possible for the breed so I need all your help in doing this!!

Just a heads up for today!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Good people...

Recently on the AKITA FORUM, an Akita owner that I helped with some information and direction for his Akita Ridley, wanted to do something nice for our rescue ARWNY, as a way of thanking me. So Sean issued a challenge to the whole group. He said he would match donations made to ARWNY up to $500 in the name of Ben, the blind Akita we have that is need of an operation to have his eyes removed.

It was a superbly generous offer, considering all Sean has spent on trying to get his own Akita, Ridley, healthy. Yet he made the offer, in this day and age of financial instability. And the group came through!! We had $520 donated by others in the group. Sean then matched that with his $500. That's an amazing amount of money raised by someone making a challenge.

Its because of people like Sean, and members of the Akita Forum, that ARWNY can continue to do the work we do. Helping a worthy Akita like Ben is what our rescue is all about. Its not about saving only the young, healthy and easy-to-place Akitas. Its about helping the worthy Akitas no matter what the age, as long as we can make them healthy again for rehoming. The Akitas like Ben, who are mistreated yet still remain loyal to humans. Who are denied vet care and suffer, yet still reach out to humans with a happy tail wag and a kiss. Who are locked away in cages without ever knowing what its like to sleep on a soft bed, yet still follow a human happily on the end of the leash once they come to rescue. This is who we do rescue for.

And its because of Sean and the members of the Akita Forum, that we can continue to do it.

If you want to read about Ben's story, go to our website at and you'll find it on our homepage.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Learning the right dance moves...

Moving to a "neighborhood" has proven to be a chance to learn to dance in our house. We never realized how easy we had it where we used to live -- no other dogs, no foot traffic, no neighbors. You never know what you have until its gone, eh?

Now we live in a neighborhood with dogs, kids, people walking back and forth all the time. People working in their front yards, dogs running loose (yes I know there are leash laws but no one seems to know that here!) and kids riding big wheels, bikes and skateboards up and down the sidewalks and streets. Moms push babies in carriages on walks, people from blocks away all walk their dogs up our streets for exercise. And of course, are next door neighbors, with whom we share a front porch, have two little doxies who have been the "only pets" here their whole lives.

Suddenly, the BIG DOG lives here. Baebae adores every human he has ever met. Kids especially. But kids see him lumbering off the front porch and run screaming, dropping everything and taking flight. Moms see him and can't get the baby carriage off the sidewalk to the other side quick enough. Poor BaeBae, he has a very unearned reputation as "That Big Scarey Dog" and he has no clue why people run from him in this neighborhood. And of course, the doxies lay in wait now for the Big Dog -- he has become "the nemesis dog". Baebae does NOT adore other dogs. So this poses a big issue also.

All of this combined made us realize -- we had to take precautions we never had to take before. So we have new dance steps that had to be learned at our house. Its the "Take BaeBae Outside" Tango and here is how it goes:

First -- look out the side windows in living & dining rooms to make sure no loose dogs or kids are in the driveway or coming down the sidewalk to the left.
Second -- look out front living room window, to be sure no moms, kids or dogs are in the front of the house.
Third -- Cautiously open front door, peer onto porch next to us to be sure neighbors are not outside with their dogs off-leash.
Fourth -- Put leash on BaeBae and lead him cautiously to front porch while looking to the right to be sure neighbors are not in side yard with their two dogs off leash.
Fifth -- slowly descend steps all the while craning neck to be sure no dogs/kids/adults have shown up in the last 2 mins that you may have missed.
Sixth -- get BaeBae to the fenced in yard so he is safe. Dancer does stay with BaeBae, we do not let him in the yard alone yet.

To bring him back in requires the dancer on the end of the leash to scan the area constantly while coming slowly back up the driveway, then peering onto the porch before approaching the front steps to come in.

Once, without realizing it, BaeBae went out after all steps were taken, and there, sitting on the bottom step of his front porch out of view of door or window, was our neighbor -- with his doxies off leash!! It was instant frenzy, as they realized BaeBae was coming long before he knew they were there. They rushed him -- all 15 lbs each of them, rushing the big ole' 100 lbs slow-moving-but-dog-hating Akita coming down the steps, like little flamenco dancers with quick movements and snapping jaws dancing around to BaeBae's slower Tango. Poor Justin was the leash dancer that day -- who had to lift his partner up under his front legs in a quick movement so BaeBae couldn't reach down and nail the little ankle-biters who were snapping furiously and barking up a storm.

Justin does the daily Tango with BaeBae. Jenn does the weekend Tango with BaeBae and she has learned the steps really well too. She does however carry "direct stop" with her as added protection. Since its not harmful but will make another dog run away, it helps her feel more protected.

Once my son finds the right house, and moves out with his two Akitas, no one will have to do this dance anymore. His two Akitas have the back room for now, and since Kuma is blind & KoTenshi is deaf, we try not to upset them by making them move out of the room so we can use the back door for BaeBae.

But once they have moved out, we will only have the ChaChaCha going on at our house. ChaChaCha right to the back door, open it, let BaeBae outside to do his business in the fenced in yard. Then ChaChaCha back to the door to let him back in. Simple, easy dance to learn. So easy, so simple. A much better beat for our household!!

And once my knee is replaced & I am all healed, I can do the ChaChaCha too. Then we'll be a dancing family, all in step, all dancing to the same beat -- at least as far as BaeBae is concerned!!

Common sense is dead...

it must be -- or why else would this video have been posted to YOUTUBE:

WHY would any sane adult human being post a video showing their toddler climbing & standing on their Akita's ribcage? Why would you even ENCOURAGE that? Why would you say to eh world that its OK for their child to do this?

And then we wonder why any dog BITES in this country--when children are taught NO respect for another living creature? Not only taught NO RESPECT but actually (so they can film it) encourage your child to climb all over your sleeping dog, to allow your child to possibly hurt your dog by standing on its ribcage. These are the same type of parents that will dump their Akita in a few months, or a year or a few years, when the Akita finally has had enough of the abuse & growls at the child who will be bigger, hurt it more and show even less respect. They will then tell the world Akitas are aggressive, they have problems with children -- and will never blame themselves as being the cause.

It never ceases to amaze me how people can have so little sense. To actually encourage a toddler to stand on a dog (of any size!!), to insist an Akita tolerate this behavior -- to FILM IT no less. I just don't get it.

I guess I have too much respect for animals in general to think this is ok. I have too much respect for Akitas in particular to be able to even view this more than once without having tears pour down my cheeks.

I am outraged, at a time in our breed's history when BSL leaders & Animal Rights groups are labeling our breed VICIOUS & naming them to BANNED LISTS, that an owner would teach his child its OK to disrespect and be cruel to an Akita. Dogs have a right to protect themselves from harm, from cruelty by any human of any age -- but when they do try to protect themselves , its ALWAYS the dog's fault never the human's fault in our society.

When a child sticks a pencil thru a dog's eardrum, I feel the dog has a right to bite the hand that is hurting him. When a child jumps off the sofa repeatedly on the sleeping dog, I feel the dog has a right to growl at that child. When a human decides to punish a dog, for eating a scrap of food that fell on the floor, by kicking it in the side, I feel the dog has every right to growl or even snap at the offending foot that has just kicked him. Yet over and over, dogs are killed daily for doing just that. Its sickening and if YOUTUBE is any indication, its only getting worse!!

I'm so angry I can't even sleep --

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Boy did this hit home!

This is very long -- but please read it -- you will see what we in rescue get as phone messages and they also come like this in emails too. This wasn't written by me but it was sent to me from a friend who does Mal Rescue. The sad thing is, ARWNY has had almost exactly every call listed here -- even the one about the change of decor!! How sad is this world today????

A Rescuer's Answering Machine- Any town- USA

Hello: You have reached 123-4567, Tender Hearts Rescue. Due to the high volume of calls we have been receiving, please listen closely to the following options and choose the one that best describes you or your situation:

Press 1 if you have a 10-year-old dog and your 15-year-old son has suddenly become allergic and you need to find the dog a new home right away.
Press 2 if you are moving today and need to immediately place your dog & human aggressive 150 pound, 8-year-old dog.
Press 3 if you have a dog, had a baby and want to get rid of your dog because you are the only person in the world to have a baby and a dog at the same time.
Press 4 if you just got a brand new puppy and your old dog is having problems adjusting so you want to get rid of the old one right away.
Press 5 if your little puppy has grown up and is no longer small and cute so you want to trade it in for a new model.
Press 6 if you want an unpaid volunteer to come to your home TODAYand pick up the dog you no longer want.
Press 7 if you have been feeding and caring for a "stray" for the last three years, are moving and suddenly determine it's not your dog.
Press 8 if your dog is sick and needs a vet but you need the money for your vacation.
Press 9 if you are elderly & want to adopt a cute puppy who is active & is going to outlive you.
Press 10 if your relative has died and you don't want to care of their elderly dog because it doesn't fit your lifestyle.
Press 11 if you are calling at 6 a.m. to make sure you wake me up before I have to go to work so you can dump your dog off on your way to work.
Press 12 to leave us an anonymous garbled message, letting us know you have left a dog in our yard in the middle of January, which is in fact better than just leaving the dog with no message.
Press 13 if you are going to get angry because we are not going to take your dog that you have had for fifteen years & euthanize it for you, because it is not our responsibility.
Press 14 if you are going to threaten to take your 12 year old dog to be euthanized because I can't take it to find it a home.
Press 15 if you're going to get angry because a volunteer had the audacity to go on vacation & you can't reach someone who is authorized to take your pet off your hands.
Press 16 if you want one of our PERFECTLY trained, housebroken, kid and cat friendly purebred dogs that we have an abundance of.
Press 17 if you want us to take your dog that has a slight aggression problem, i.e. has only bitten a few people & family members, and killed your neighbor's cats.
Press 18 if you have already called once and been told we don't take personal surrenders but thought you would get a different person this time with a different answer.
Press 19 if you want us to use space that would go to a stray to board your personal dog while you are on vacation, free of charge, of course.
Press 20 if it is Christmas Eve or Easter morning and you want me to deliver an eight week old puppy to your house by 6:30 am before your kids wake up.
Press 21 if you have bought your children a duckling, chick or baby bunny for Easter and your dog is trying to kill it so you want to dump the dog on rescue.
Press 22 if you want us to take your female dog who has already had ten litters, but we can't spay her because she is pregnant again and it is against your beliefs to spay her.
Press 23 if you're lying to make one of our newer volunteers feel bad and take your personal pet off your hands.
Press 24 if your dog has severe health issues that mean you have to give him pills or shots & it makes you "squeamish" to do so, and want to dump him in rescue for someone else to handle.
Press 25 if your two year old male dog is marking all over your house but you just haven't gotten around to having him neutered.
Press 26 if you have an outdoor only unspayed dog and are calling because she is suddenly pregnant.
Press 27 if you have done "everything" to housebreak your dog and have had no success but you don't want to crate the dog because it is cruel so you want to dump it on us instead.
Press 28 if you didn't listen to the message asking for an evening phone number and you left your work number when all volunteers are also working and you are angry because no one called you back.
Press 29 if you need a puppy immediately and cannot wait because today is your daughter's birthday and you want the puppy NOW this minute.
Press 30 if your dog's coat doesn't match your new furniture and you need a different color or breed.
Press 31 if your new love doesn't like your dog and you are too stupid to get rid of the new friend (who will dump you in the next month anyway) instead of the dog.
Press 32 if you went through all these 'options' and didn't hear enough. This press will connect you to the sounds of tears being shed by one of our volunteers who is holding a discarded old dog while the vet mercifully frees him from the grief of missing his family.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


after Jenn went to talk with our next-door neighbor (we'll call her S.) we found out we were right -- it is the neighbor (we'll call her B) across the street. Per the talk, seems that B. was asking others if they 'saw' our dogs out & she was going to complain about mess, etc. But S. told her that since she sees Jenn, Jim and Justin out with the pooperscooopers in our own yard, that she knows the mess is not ours, its not even the right size for our dogs for heaven sakes!! And seems that b4 we moved in, this B. harrassed the other dog owners on the street all the time too. Guess since we are new, we are getting the heat now.

SO -- after Jenn discussed this, she feels the best thing to do is just give them nothing to complain about, to keep the neighbors we KNOW are not complaining on our side and just act like nothing happened. If this B. dares to complain to the township & try to pin something on our Akitas, we will be ready for it -- they will have to prove it is our Akitas -- so they better have some pictures to show as proof along with DNA tests done on the poop!! And then we will retaliate -- harrassment letters from our lawyer might work!! But all in all, Jenn felt much better after her talk with our next-door neighbor S. today so its all smooth again for now.

Its funny -- I've spent years advising people on these issues but never had to deal with it myself -- now here I am, at this point in my life, and I'm NOT as mellow as I once might have been -- and definately will NOT "slip silently into the night" as they may hope I will!!!

Thanks for the comment left here on my earlier post, CJ -- it was well-taken, thanks so much for your thoughts!!


We've been so spoiled, living at the kennel, never having to worry about "neighbors". But oh, are we dealing with them now!

Its obvious our "big dogs" are not welcome in this neighborhood. We have a fenced in yard, the dogs are only out to do their business in that yard, they are not left in the yard for more than 5 minutes at a time. Yet its just constant complaints now -- how have you all dealt with this stupidity all these years? I've been so spoiled!

There are people in my neighborhood that walk dogs or allow dogs to run off leash. These dogs run along, doing their business on everyone's lawn -- who did they blame before we moved here? Suddenly, its "notes" left in our mailbox "Please clean up the yard next door to your yard so no one calls the Township to complain." What? Clean up the yard NEXT to mine when my dogs aren't even out of my own yard? My dogs don't make the mess in that yard -- yet you want us to clean up someone else's yard??

So now what -- we are to live in fear that someone who has lived here for years & is well "known" to the neighborhood, will call the township to blame OUR dogs for making a mess in someone's yard?? Suddenly our dogs are responsible for all the dog poop up and down the street -- even though my dogs never leave our back yard? We don't even walk our dogs in this neighborhood -- my son takes his dogs down to his in-law's property at the shore to walk his dogs. Our own Baebae doesn't want to be walked because his arthritis is too bad so up and down the steps & out in the back yard is enough for him. Yet now, the tiny poop from the doxies, the cocker, the pitbull that all run off leash is OUR worry everywhere? Not to mention the old golden from 2 blocks over who poops as he walks because he is so old -- his poop is now our worry?

I hate living in a neighborhood like this. I am so sick of busybody neighbors who are big-dog haters, who want to blame my yard-only Akitas for all the mess on the whole block. We just moved here and we are already thinking we should move out!! ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Training methods are like opinions....

everyone has one!! No matter who you talk to in Akitas, they will have a method that they use for training -- and you may never hear the same one twice. Seems to me that its gottten a bit crowded out there in the world of training -- so many different ways to skin a cat these days!! But if you take the time to read and learn, you might find many of them have a LOT more in common than you may think!!

I like a lot of different trainers for different reasons. I like people like Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson for their well-thought out methods of working with the dogs & their willingness to learn & change as they grow. I like Cesar Millan for his common sense in how to handle dogs and how to make humans realize their dogs aren't HUMANS!! I like Carol Lea Benjamin because she understands Akitas and writes very common sense books designed to make you understand how to work with your dog. I appreciate the teachings of Suzanne Clothier because she understands Akitas and has never shied away from helping an aggressive Akita. I am thankful for the website that Leerburg Dog Training, by Ed Frawley, has set up, because some of the articles there are indispensible to me when helping people with problem Akitas.

There are also tons of people I turn to for help with training who've never written a book but should have! Each and every person I work with, have met and read, all have VERY different methods yet there is something to be learned from each and every person -- even the ones whose methods I totally disagree with. After all, you have to know what you don't agree with in order to understand what you DO agree with, eh?

If you have a computer, you have a great tool to help you learn about training. But don't take everything on one site to heart. Read everything you can -- learn something from everyone -- take methods that make sense to you, that will work for you and then apply them. ONLY you can be honest to yourself about what you are willing to do, how much time you are willing to invest in your Akita or your future Akita. No use promising yourself the stars when you know you won't even get on a stepladder to change a lightbulb, right?

Its the people who are most honest with themselves, who know their own limitations, who are willing to read, learn and work with what they believe in, that make the best Akita owners. And you know who you are -- yes, you do!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rescue Code of Ethics

As part of the Akita Club of America, I am happy to report that we have decided on a Code of Ethics for all Akita Rescues to follow.

However, on the down side, I'm sad we even needed to set up a Code of Ethics. You'd think anyone wanting to do rescue would do it right -- would do it for the good of the Akitas and not for any personal agenda. After all the very word rescue means: to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger, or evil. But if I've learned one thing over the years, its that some people in rescue can be just as rotten, just as selfish, just as evil, as people in puppymills, petstores, or bad breeders can be also.

Way back when I started in rescue, I was so idealistic. After all, I was helping in rescue, and rescue was about saving Akitas' lives so everyone in rescue with me must be in this for the same reasons I was, right? I couldn't sleep at nite thinking about the Akitas in my care -- I worried constantly about finding the right homes, about making sure I wasn't allowing an Akita to die in a shelter, about how to find a way to get more qualified adopters, about how to find more good volunteers to help us spread the word. I went bankrupt over rescue at one point, I lost a marriage to rescue at another point, and ultimately I lost much of my health to rescue -- but it didn't matter, because I was saving Akitas' lives and MY GOD that was what kept me going. I was sure everyone in rescue felt the same way, right? I was sure if someone called themselves a 'rescue' it meant they had the good of their breed at heart.

So imagine my heartbreak the first time someone I thought I could trust ended up showing the only reason they were in rescue was for the ego, the power of it, not really caring at all about good placements or caring for the dogs. Or how sad I was when I found that another treasured friend I thought I could trust was actually breeding the rescue dogs, then selling the puppies to make money for personal profit. These & other things just devastated me -- that I could trust people for so long & find out down the road about their real motives for being 'rescue' . The more I learned about people like this, who I trusted & called friends for years, the more I considered getting out of rescue because I felt I could no longer trust my OWN judgement.

Instead of quitting rescue completely, I simply let it harden me, made me wary of just accepting anyone calling themselves a rescue. I started to watch for signs of 'bad rescue' in people -- and sadly I found it, more times than I care to admit and each time, it broke my heart over and over. HOW can someone call themselves a rescue only to use the dogs in their care for profit, to use the word 'rescue' to get them what they want; how could they harm the very dogs they promised to help and save?? Boy was I naive over and over again.

There are those calling themselves Rescue who will only take puppies under 15 months old so they can make a quick profit -- they make the person giving up the dog pay for all vetting and also charge a big give up fee, then charge the adopter another big fee while paying for nothing but a few days worth of food for the rescued dog themselves -- thus making a huge profit that goes right in their own pocket.

Or the Rescues who start out like they are already experts without ever volunteering with any other group first. They won't work with anyone else, thinking they know it all; they end up doing bad placements, getting sued and giving the name of rescue bad publicity. People like that cause so much harm to rescue because bad publicity hurts us all -- good rescues get lumped in with bad rescues simply by the name association of the word RESCUE; lawsuits cost everyone money, time, bad press. People get hurt by poorly evaluated dogs, children can be maimed by bad placements. Why do rescue like this? Why not do it right?

Then the worst is the hoarder/collector rescue people -- who start out with good intentions, who slowly or in some cases quickly get in over their heads but instead of asking for help, allow the pets to suffer, in some cases die. This is happening more and more. We had it a few years ago with the Palmdale situation involving over 50 Akitas
Recently the Chow Rescues had to deal with it in PA with over 90 Chows
And all breed rescues sadly have it happen all the time .
In all cases, it points fingers at those of us doing rescue ethically because it makes the general public wonder -- "Are you really doing right by the dogs in YOUR care, how do we know YOU aren't like these people, how do we know YOU are using the money/donations we give correctly, how do we know YOU won't be a headline next week, next month, next year?"

Everyone knows we need as much help as we can get in rescue. But too often, we are quick to embrace someone calling themselves a rescue without really knowing who they are or what they are doing; and its only after we have embraced them that we start to see cracks in their facade. How do you "out" someone you suspect may not be doing right by the dogs in their care, or doing rescue for the wrong reasons (ego, money), or is already in over their heads? Many are afraid to speak up, afraid to point fingers, afraid to be the one to say "Something's wrong with this person" for fear no one will ever trust them now that they have pointed fingers. We all know what happens to 'whistle-blowers' -- we see movies & TV shows about it, and we know how they get ostracized by their co-workers, their peers, for speaking out. But when its lives (dogs) at stake, how can we not speak out? How can we not question, worry, wonder?

One tool to help us is that we now have a CODE OF ETHICS. Its a good one too -- much input given from some really great rescue people who helped hone it to bring it to this final stage. It covers all the basic groundwork of good rescue -- vetting, altering, nutrition, temperament, evaluations, proper placements & use of paperwork. No one wants to be the "rescue police" but it will help in some ways I hope prevent bad things from happening.

Its a good strong COE and while I hate that we even need to have one in rescue, I'm glad its there now. I salute those who helped put this together and I am proud we could agree on what ethical rescue is and how to implement it. Akita Rescues are some of the best breed rescues in the country -- and some of the longest working breed rescues also. There are a lot of good, ethical, knowledgeable people doing recognized Akita Rescue, people I am proud to say I volunteer with as a whole. For a list of them, go here:
Those of us who will be signing this COE will be publishing it on our websites. If you are seeking a good ethical Akita Rescue in the future & they are NOT listed as a signing group with this COE, ask why not. Ask why they don't feel they agree with the terms of this COE, ask why they feel they don't need to follow this COE. It certainly should warn you to seek another Akita Rescue!!

I wish ALL breed rescues had a COE. Some do, many don't. I hope they all implement one in the future. Perhaps then we can prevent future situations like the one with the Chows or the Palmdale situation from happening. Perhaps we can save the name of "rescue" from future bad press with this COE. Perhaps it will help me to not be heartbroken again when someone I trusted & believed in turns out to NOT be doing rescue for the right reasons. Perhaps it will make those people stop and think before continuing in rescue at all. I can hope, can't I?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dogs & Heat

What's with all the police officers (who should know better!) leaving their service dogs in their locked cars to boil to death in the heat? I am shocked -- surely they know better or should know better? Its bad enough when a pet owner does it, but I can't believe the K-9 police officers aren't drilled on that stuff in school? For any dog to suffer and die that way is just horrid -- I've called the police several times over the years to release a pet that was locked in a hot car during the summer months. But who do you call ABOUT the police when their service dog is locked in a police car? Another police officer? The firemen? I mean really....that saying "Common sense is no longer common" is definately applying to today's world...

Friday, July 10, 2009

How to know when its...time...

This sad subject has been on my mind a lot lately, because of dear friends who have had to put their beloved Akitas to sleep due to illness & old age. When your dog is old, sickly, showing signs of fading, or suffering from a horrid disease, how do you "know" when its time to let them go "OVER THE RAINBOW BRIDGE"? If only the decision was always made for us -- like my Brae, who just kissed us good nite like always with a happy tail wag; then the next morning there she was, curled up in death looking just like she always did when sleeping. Her heart just stopped beating during the night -- she was 15 but acted and looked like she was no more than 5. We were stunned, she showed no signs of being sickly or slowing down. But it was a decision we didn't have to make for her. We should all have that decision made for us, so we don't have to decide it on our own.

Because OH! its such a hard decision to make, one we agonize over & stress over for what seems forever before we can feel we are making the right decision. My vet Dr. Phyllis addressed it in one of our ARWNY Newsletters & as a vet she has had to deal with it daily with clients, and also with her own beloved Akitas. Numerous articles have been written about this subject on the internet and there are "pet grief counselors" who hold group sessions to help people cope with the loss of their pets. Its such a profoundly personal decision that its hard to be able to help another person decide when its "time" to let their pet go. I just know that I've been there & had to make this type of decision too often with the rescues in my care -- decisions I'm glad I didn't have to make alone, since all of us in our group confer when its a rescue about decisions like these. As hard as it is, helping a rescue "Over the Bridge" I can do for the good of the Akita, the good of the group, the good of the breed.

But making this decision for my own pet was far harder. I had to learn to make the right decision with the help of someone else. I've learned that now for me, it boils down to not being selfish in wanting to keep the dog with you; to be humane enough to be able to say "I love you, you shouldn't suffer anymore" and letting them go.

At one time, I was too blind-sided to be able to make the right decision. I was selfish, and convinced myself my Akita was ok when it was my own selfishness that kept her with me longer than I should have. I'm talking about my beloved KumaChan, my first female Akita that joined us as a puppy in 1986. My daughter Jenn had to practically force me to finally admit it was time for my Kuma to be let go from the pain in her knees and hips. I cared for Kuma daily, feeling she was still "holding her own" and having a good quality of life. I realize now, Kuma was hanging on because I couldn't face reality with her. Then my daughter Jenn went away to college in CT; when she came home at Christmas time, it was her being away from the situation that allowed her to see Kuma's pain far better than I could see it. I still had convinced myself that Kuma was fine, still able to handle her pain, still enjoying life. It took Jenn's fresh eyes to finally make me realize I was wrong, that Kuma had no quality to her life by then & was suffering more than I could admit.

When I held Kuma in my arms to let her go, I just kept telling her I was so sorry, so so sorry for letting her suffer. Kuma was the brave one, who let me know she was ok with my decision -- I was the mess, she was the calm one that sad day.

So I know, when people tell me they don't know if its time to let their pet go, I do truly know how they feel. But sometimes, it does take a fresh set of eyes to see things for what they really are. When people ask me how they will know, I tell them "You won't always know, because often we are blinded to it by our own need to keep our beloved pet with us." And that's so true. I am mindful of that now when dealing with my own pets. I think back to my Kuma and try hard now to make sure I never allow any Akita in my care to suffer due to my own selfish need to keep my Akita with me.

Now when people ask me if "its time" for them to let their pet go, I tell them to search in their own hearts to be sure they aren't overlooking their dog's suffering just because they can't bear to lose the dog. If the dog can't be cured, has no hope of going back to a normal life & is suffering, you need to really figure out if you are holding on to the dog because the dog still has any quality of life or if you are holding on to the dog for yourself. Its hard to let your dog pass on. No one realizes that more than me. But at the same time, I have to feel its our humanity that allows us to prevent our pets from suffering more than they should have to suffer.

When its time, its time. Only you can make that decision -- so be sure whatever decision you make, its for the good of your pet, not for yourself. That's all I can ask of anyone, including myself.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Too many emails...

I try so hard not to look at pictures of Akitas in need from areas I can't help, b/c seeing their faces, looking into their eyes just kills me. My inbox is filled with emails from shelters and owners from all across the country asking for help with an Akita or Akitas in need. I try to just pass them on to the group I know is closest to them without looking at the pictures so I don't get more upset over not being able to help.

But yesterday I got an email from a shelter worker in Indiana and made the mistake of looking at the two older Akitas in need -- there are 3 there, but one is a baby around 6 months, the other two are a bit older, not sure the ages listed are right since another rescue evaluated them & feels they might be off on the ages listed, that they may be younger than aged by the shelter (which does happen a lot). Anyway, its always easy to help the baby -- puppies under a year of age are easy to adopt out & easy to find a foster home for. Its the older ones that break my heart.

So now there are 3 Akitas in this one shelter and the shelter wants them all rehomed, not just for someone to rescue the puppy but to give all three a chance. Therein lies the problem -- people are coming forward offering to save the puppy, which is fine; but no one has come forward offering to save the two adults -- and that just kills me. If we can find 3 people wanting the puppy to foster, why oh why can't all three Akitas be saved, spread out to the 3 people already saying they can take on the puppy?

I know, I know -- I realize people "think" its easier to take on the puppy but in reality -- if you can crate the puppy, keep it separate from your own dogs, until someone else has room for it, then you could do the same for one of the adults, eh? I mean really -- think about it. Makes sense, eh? We've been doing that for years in rescue -- rescue should be about all ages, not just puppies. Sure, the public wants only puppies -- but maybe if all we offer to the public IS puppies, we are setting them up to only want the puppies. Maybe if all they saw were adult dogs available for rescue, they would get the "hint" and rethink rescue -- realize that older dogs are the only ones available so that is who they will save. Nice idea, right?

Why oh why do I have such a bleeding heart for these 2 adults? I don't know. I do know we are overloaded, ARWNY cannot take them on when we have dogs sitting in our local shelters -- dogs we are working hard on to find spots for in our rescue already. But these two older dogs haunted me last nite -- I couldn't fall sleep, I kept worrying in my mind how to figure out a way to help these two. And I failed -- I cannot come up with a way to help them.

So I'll have to spend the day saddened & depressed that 2 more fabulous, wonderful Akitas will probably lose their lives -- for being older, for being "not a puppy"....

I have to stop looking at pictures of Akitas in need that I cannot help....its getting to me.....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where are the qualified adopters...

Its been raining Akitas lately -- so many wonderful ones in need, but no room because we just aren't getting the right homes to come along!! Usually by this time of year, we have placed at least 40 Akitas but this year, we just placed our 25th Akita. And all the other Akita Rescues are singing this same sad tune. So where are the qualified homes? We have some wonderful Akitas sitting in our care that should be lounging away in someone's living room.

Why is Yogi still with us? He is super handsome, with a great personality -- big deal he doesn't like other dogs, does that mean he can't be a great pet? Its sadly a bit of an Akita trait to not get along well with strange dogs so he's definitely NOT abnormal for an Akita. Yet here sits Yogi still. Or BayBay -- a gorgeous boy with a collie mixed in there somewhere, and he's sweet as can be. He so deserves to be playing ball with someone in their backyard not sitting in a kennel run wondering when he will get to go home!! And what about the 3 breeders' dogs we rescued after they were left to dehydrate and die alone in NY? Zeus, Athena & Romuleus all are gorgeous, wonderful Akitas with a LOT of love and happiness to give someone yet they languish here with us instead of being loved & spoiled in a real home. The list just goes on and on -- like our Oki, Spirit and Gordon, all big handsome boys but all 3 real Akitas, just what the breed was meant to be. Yet not getting any applications asking for them; people passing them by just because they are a bit older too!! And Sammy -- no issues at all, lost his home due to divorce, but at age 9, no one cares and no one wants him. He's super perfect yet everyone passes him by on our website. Go visit our website and see these sweethearts, you too will wonder why they are still there!!

I don't get everyone out there just wanting a puppy. Puppies are SO much work! And in today's hectic, crazy, busy world, who has time for all that work? People don't think things thru -- they hear 'puppy' and they become fixated. These wonderful adult Akitas we have are all housebroken, most are crate trained, they walk great on a leash, are calm, intelligent, healthy and loving. Yet all we get are applications asking for puppies!! People mistakenly think a puppy will "bond" better, I hear that all the time -- and its SO not true! Adult Akitas bond just as strongly to a family as a puppy does. An adult Akita is just as playful and fun as a puppy is. An adult Akita is just as loving as a puppy is. What an adult Akita isn't is tiny but then neither are Akita puppies for very long. Adult Akitas aren't as much work as puppies are either. But for some reason, everyone wants a puppy. I don't get it. I'd never own a puppy -- the last puppy in my life was in 1986 and that was enough for me -- I will always own an adult Akita, and my preference now is middle-aged -- 6 or older!! Such wonderful Akitas in that age bracket -- loving, calm, playful yet not wild or out of control. Yes, there are times when a puppy is needed but not usually and not always. Yes, I will recommend good breeders when someone really should have a puppy in their home because we don't have the right adult or an adult won't work in their specific situation -- but that's not the usual case yet people just convince themselves they must get a puppy to "train it" or to "bond" with it. NOT TRUE!

Then on top of that, the other problem is the people who don't do their homework, don't read our site thoroughly before filling out the application -- it clearly says "we do not do any same sex adoptions" yet we get application after application from people with 3, 4 or 5 other dogs of both sexes in their household already. Or the people who ask for a certain dog that specifically states on its write up "no cats" when they have 1, 2, 3 cats. Or the people with small toddlers that insist on having the dog that is listed as "no kids under 12". We put those things in a write up for a reason -- our placements must be safe, must be permanent and must work for both the Akita and the adopting family!! So sadly those are wasted applications, wasted time in responding to those applications, wasted hope that one of our Akitas might get a home when we see a new application come in.

I don't mean to sound negative and heavens knows, we have some fabulous adopters for whom we are eternally grateful. But we need more of them -- the number of Akitas in need has risen dramatically but the number of good adopters has dropped drastically and its very sad for our Akitas. They shouldn't be sitting in kennels or foster homes -- they should be at home by now, being loved and cherished as someone's pet!!

So spread the word, send good adopters our way, won't you? Its very disheartening to keep turning away wonderful Akitas in need because of lack of space -- and the lack of space is because the Akitas we have in our care just aren't getting adopted!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

How sad for old stray Akitas...

I spent some time at Joann's place today, with Deb Karfs and my daughter Jenn. Soon I won't be able to go anywhere because of the knee surgery, so wanted to take up some things I had for Joann & see the dogs in her care b4 that happens.

Let me tell you about a really old gal I got to meet that Joann saved from dying alone, scared and with no one that loved her in a NYC shelter. This old gal was found wandering the streets, with a brand new red harness on her but in such terrible shape and so old, she could barely drag herself around. Her coat was filthy and matted, she could barely stand, and yet there was-is- a sparkle in her eye and a dignity to her that Joann couldn't pass by. So home to "Casa Dimon" she came to live out her days with love and happiness, even if those days are obviously so numbered. She's not up for adoption -- Joann and her family are keeping her with them for whatever short time she has left.

So we sat poolside today, meeting all the dogs but finding ourselves being drawn mostly to this old gal, Ginger. She was totally non-dog aggressive, with such beauty to her, such confidence in her gaze, being social with all of us that she has never met. I was especially appreciative of how mellow she was, as she spent the afternoon walking around and sniffing, watching, looking, confident in her own Akita-ness that she never cared if any of the other Akitas there were NOT happy to have her near them. She paid them no mind -- not b/c she was afraid of them or shy, but because in her mind, OH they were not worthy of her attention!!!! Yet for us humans, her attention was so easily won over with a cookie that we laughed over and over as she watched to see who had food, who didn't, her "why bother with you if someone on the other side of the table had a morsel for me" attitude!!

Amazingly, for as slow as she walked, let her see the gate to outside open & her speed picked right up as she trotted towards the open gate, because she loves her walks around the block, thinking I am sure that she is being admired by all the neighbors for her beauty, that she doesn't know has long since faded -- in her mind, she is still that young & gorgeous Akita you can tell she once was!! She was an Akita version of Norma Desmond from SUNSET BLVD, still the movie star wanting the world to admire her despite her age & faded beauty -- what a true Akita!!

And while her age may have slowed her body down, her mind was sharp as a tack -- she was not about to be put back in her kennel, not with all us there feeding her cookies -- oh no, she was ALL Akita then, using those brains to figure out how to get around the idea of "back inside" when Matt tried at one point!! She was all about being a true Akita -- stubborn!! It was so funny to watch the "wheels turning" in her head as she out thought her humans!

At approx 13, who could have just left her go, who wouldn't have turned over heaven and earth to find this sweet, gorgeous, smart & mellow girl? What kind of unthinking, uncaring person would just not worry about her anymore -- after she was such a loyal and loving Akita to them?

Why can't humans be at least partly as loyal to their Akitas, as their Akitas are loyal to them? I just don't get it. But I do know this -- if she had to end up a stray, if she had to be dumped on the street, at least she ended up at Casa Dimon with Jo's family. At least when her time comes, she won't be sad, alone and feeling unloved.
I wish there was a Casa Dimon out there for every single unwanted, stray, dumped least Ginger is one of the lucky ones.

P.S. Seeing Ginger safe & happy today, I was reminded in my heart to say: Thank heavens for all the volunteers in Akita Rescues around the country -- around the world -- that work hard to keep as many Akitas as they can from feeling unloved, scared and alone!!

Cabinets, here we come!!

When Jenn was looking to buy a house after we left the kennel, she wanted one with a yard big enough to foster Akitas. So we ended up with this house -- it has a nice yard with shade and already has a nice cement pad to put in a dog run for fostering, just needed to be fenced in. But guess what -- it didn't have a kitchen! There was a stove & a sink, and 3 plastic cabinets -- you read that right, plastic cabinets and they are so thin, you can't even put a dinner plate in them. Bet you don't remember ever seeing plastic cabinets! So we have to put in a kitchen and of course, that takes money and time.

But just so you know what dog people we truly are, while we have been here for months with NO kitchen, we DO HAVE a fenced in yard now, thanks to all those wonderful ARWNY people who came and put up the wooden fence Jenn bought!! One of them, who shall remain nameless, even got on a ladder and cut down the huge magnolia tree that was in the way of the fence (while his wife was off with me doing a transport for a rescue dog!!) which made the fence look so much more wonderful & saved Jenn about $900 in tree removal costs!! But oh my poor Jenn had an anxiety attack watching him up on the ladder, she had knots in her stomach!! So now, boy do we have a gorgeous fence in our backyard! Once my son buys his house & moves out with his Akitas, we will start fostering a dog at a time here!!

As for the kitchen -- now, today, finally, after being here for months with no cabinets, no dishwasher, nowhere to even put dishes & no counter space -- Jenn is ordering unfinished kitchen cabinets that she will then paint. She ordered a dishwasher, an over the stove microwave, a kitchen fan for the ceiling, and even got BaeBae a new food/water stand!! Now she just has to pick out the counter tops and the floor. And one day soon, we will actually have a useable kitchen. But hey, we have had a useable dog yard for weeks now!!

Just goes to show where our priorities are, right? Dog people just will always be dog people.... LOL

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another Akita dumped...

Carla Boyd, our Philadelphia PA volunteer, got a call from a local PA shelter -- a 6 month old female puppy was dumped by its owner on July 4th. *SIGH* Why are we seeing so many young ones? Carla pulled her immediately the same day to prevent her from getting sick in a shelter at her young age. So now -- one more in rescue. And so many more in local shelters -- a gorgeous male in Delaware County Shelter, a female sweetheart in Chester County Shelter. All young adults, adoptable, healthy. And that's just in one weekend in one area. So many Akitas in need, so few qualified adopters!

And then of course, when people apply they always seem to have special needs -- already have multiple dogs, cats, toddlers -- makes our job harder to try to match up the right Akita to these homes. This breed needs just the right placement. So we can only do placements when we have just the right home come along. That means some of our Akitas must sit in kennels for weeks, even months waiting for the right match.

I can only hope that more really good applications come our way. Its sad to see these wonderful Akitas sitting in shelters, knowing we have no room for them, no homes for them.

Sunday, 7/5/09

Well, I have spent the better part of 6 hours today learning how to set up this blog -- I am NOT computer savvy to say the least! (Stop laughing!!!) But Nancy already has too much to do with all the other computer things, the fundraising, the paperwork end of ARWNY -- so I figured this much I could teach myself!! Trust me, I'd rather be driving, or working with the Akitas -- I hate being crippled but hey, if I am, I might as well be useful in some small way, right? That knee replacement is coming -- 7/22/09!!!! But for now, its stuck on the computer??? I am so poor at these kinds of things -- so be kind when viewing this new blog, ok? THANKS!!

One big exciting bit of news today: Our volunteer Joann Dimon just worked a miracle -- she was finally able to save the two neglected 10-month old Akitas in northern NJ she has been monitoring for months on end! That's in addition to saving Ben, the blind Akita who came from a horrid puppymill situation; as well as taking in Mochi the 10 month old male whose owner is sadly very ill. What would we do without Joann and her family Matt, Max & Arizona?

Just to give you an idea of the work involved in rescue -- these two pups Joann just saved will need now to be altered and vetted -- which means Joann does the driving necessary to pick up these two then gets them to the vet's office, so that's hours on end of transports from one end of NJ to the other end. Add to that, the driving already done in getting Ben (with the help of Paul Lavoie!) to Joann's house, in driving back & forth all the time (Thanks Deb Karfs!) to the kennels we use in Burlington County (Bless you Angie & Jeff for your kenneling space!) to house the Akitas so they can be socialized, etc. Then the paperwork involved in keeping all the records, making sure all vet records are up to date, etc. (Thank you Nancy!)

Now add to that, the work in keeping the website updated (Thank you Nancy again!) as well as sending out Thank you's for donations (Thank you Jenn!) and now working on the upcoming Sept 19th Picnic (surprises planned, keep watching our website) and the upcoming Akita Club of America Nationals where we always try to man a big booth! Then we have the phone calls to return (Thanks Donna for the phone help!) and emails we return on a daily basis, our Facebook sites I monitor, and the applications pages we all try to check on a daily basis!!

Do any of you reading this post today, realize how much transport work, how much exercise, how much training work, how much paperwork & computer work, goes into each and every dog we rescue? Whew, I'm tired just writing it all down for you to read!!!

Now that my knee has blown out, its all on the shoulders of Nancy, Joann, Deb, Carla, John, Diane, Paul, and others to do the physical work, all of whose help has been invaluable. And of course, I've dragged my daughter Jenn into ARWNY kicking & screaming, so she helps as well as my son Jim & my sig. other Justin. But we still have room for more help! If you want to help rescue in some way, consider becoming a volunteer to help ARWNY -- we always need help with transport, with home evaluations, with shelter evaluations!!

Sadly we can't save them all - but with your help, maybe we can save a few more!! Send adopters our way -- older, housebroken, trained Akitas make fabulous companions!! See our website at

Over the years, I've considered giving up rescue -- for health reasons, for personal reasons, because of rescue burnout, because of disappointment in humans....but you know what, I just can't because these Akitas are all too special, and they need me -- no, they need US, they need ARWNY!!! So I stay -- and so does everyone else who does rescue for the right reasons -- we stay for the Akitas. Not for ego, not for public admiration, not for any other reason but for the Akitas.