Maybe we were so close because he spent his life with us while I was retired. So we spent a lot of time together. A lot. Actually, we spent ALL our time together - 24/7. That makes his loss all the more painful and his absence all the more palpable. After a lifetime with an assortment of animals, including sheep and horses, ponies, dogs and cats, all of whom enriched our lives beyond measure, we found ourselves alone with just our cat Bear, when our last critters died. All their passings were extremely painful and I resolved to not replace them. We were free to travel and I couldn't stand the pain of their short lives and the gut-wrench at the end.
Chiba was sort of an "unplanned pregancy." My wife Dot mentioned "another dog" from time to time. And then we received a letter from Emi Kawamoto in Hawaii. She and her husband Richard raised pure bred dogs and were the source of our last three dogs - all Akitas. They had transitioned over time from Akitas to Shiba Inu's - sort of a one quarter scale Akita, identical in every way. Shiba's are the most popular dog in Japan. They had a pup who grew too much and exceeded the AKC standard (too tall) and were looking for a home for him. I said No! Dot said Yes! Well, you can see who won that argument.
A long way from Honolulu
On March 29, 1999, a dog kennel came down the belt loader from a Hawaiian Airlines DC-10 and into the Northwest air cargo area. Inside was a frightened pup. The cargo agent looked in the kennel and asked us if he was a fox - 'cause he sure looked like one. And that's been our description of him to strangers ever since. Picture a fox - Chiba is almost a dead-ringer. We brought him home and moved the kennel to the laundry. It was tough to get him to come out and go for a walk. It was cold outside - about 38 degrees - nothing like Hawaii weather! The following morning, I found him scrunched up in a corner of the kennel and shivering all over.
Here he is - still a pup. Man....does he ever look young in these pictures!!!
Eventually, by tempting him with food, I got him out of the kennel. We went on several long walks during the morning, during which he relaxed and became more friendly, and ate and drank. About 4 PM, I went in to see him; he was excited, wagging his tail, licking my hands and face, and playing with his toy. He seemed to have made a remarkably quick adjustment. The difference between morning and afternoon was miraculous. Thereafter, his acclimation was rapid - he even became friends with Bear - our cat.
It wasn't long before I realized - and worried about - our taking in this six month old pup. We'd go on numerous daily walks - never enough for Chiba - and his energy level was enormous! He was running on 4000 volts ALL the time! I told Dot "Hey, I'm not sure I'm ready for a pup (versus an older dog.) It's been a long time since I had to handle such a mountain of energy!" And you know what, he never changed throughout his entire life. He remained a ball of fire that never slowed down. So I guess I had to do the only thing possible - jack up my voltage to keep up with him.
It's no secret we think a lot of our dog, Chiba. He's a joy to be around and it's scarcely an exaggeration to say he's the glue that holds this household together. He's a dominant personality, both for us and for visitors. Although the years have flown by, for him as well as for us, he's scarcely aged a bit - he has the same good looks, spirit, playfulness, activity level, and agility as the day he came to live with us more than 10 years ago. I like to say he's "ten going on one." Compared to many other of our past animal companions, he's never slowed down. I do not believe he's been sick a single day in our wonderful time together.
This dog was good-looking! A real stunner.
And.....He had a personality to match
While it's correct in saying he has a wonderful and unique relationship with Dot, even she agrees that me and Chiba are joined at the navel, like Siamese twins. If I go up and down stairs 20 times to my office or shop - he's right behind (or alongside) me every time. If I go outside, he waits at the door for my re-entry.
gone for the day or on a trip, he sits looking out the window watching
And, when I open the front door, all hell breaks loose as his joy and enthusiasm knows no bounds.
I'm not sure if he thinks I'm a dog (at least partially correct), or whether I think he's a person, or both. At night, we often fight for the same piece of real estate on the bed. We often chased each other around the house, played hide-n-seek, wrestled on the floor, or fought over the best toys. He really enjoyed sitting with me when I was talking on my radio.
A dog's love is unconditional and his loyalty is
deep and forever, and this saddles one with a certain responsibility to
acknowledge and reciprocate. He makes you a better human being, and
does so effortlessly. I always remind people that DOG spelled backwards
and maybe that comparison explains some of his innate homo sapiens improvement capabilities.
For a little yeller dog from Hawaii - he adapted instantly to things like cold surf and snow.
I used to call him ChibaDog, Chiba the Shiba, or just Stud Muffin
In the Fall, well, he could "disappear" in the leaves
Chiba wanted to know what was going on outside.....even when he was inside
Part of every activity - he helped unwrap Christmas presents....and worked with me on my airplanes.
Dogs are the world's happiest creatures - and EVERYTHING is their favorite activity - from going out, to coming in, going for walks, eating, playing with their toys, or - especially - riding in the car.
Never had a bath in his whole life.....but he did like to get vacuum'd
He groomed himself like a cat, and always smelled like he was wearing my aftershave.
At the Farm, he had his own outside kennel.
In Hansville, Chiba had his own deck. Well, let's say he shared his deck with us.
Where he had a great view and could catch a few rays.
Watch the cruise ship races
And watch the birds.
But mostly - Hey! - he's a Hawaiian dog - Chiba couldn't get enough sun.
Soaking up those beautiful rays
Chiba could find the tiniest sliver of sunshine in the house, and follow it from place to place.
Happiness is a sunny spot
He loved his bed, and sometimes he got a two-fer, when the sunshine actually landed on his bed !
Not to be missed. This is not a common event!
Everyone thinks they have the most beautiful dog - it's just that - we do!
Chiba loved soft things -- beds, blankets, sheepskin rugs
A man's gotta have his toys.....and so does a dog.
Chiba operated under the Mine rule. "What's Mine is Mine, and what's Yours is Mine."
He had his Ball, and his Bone, and, of course, his Blankie. These he stored in 'his' room - the Laundry. He mastered the technique of putting the Ball and Bone on his Blanket, and then dragging the whole bunch in one trip out into the part of the house where he was going to set up shop. Dragging that blanket wasn't easy, as you could wind up repeatedly stepping on it - but he quickly learned how to drag it along side.
He had an assortment of other toys - rawhide bones, etc - which sometimes weren't used regularly and were in semi-storage - until, that is, I touched them or demonstrated some kind of interest in them. Then, they went to the Top-of-the-List as the "Mine" Rule was quickly invoked.
When Chiba entered our household, he suddenly found he wasn't alone with just people - there was another creature living there. One he had never encountered before. One who thought he was also King of the Hill. That was our black cat - Bear.
We've had quite a few cats and dogs - and only old-wives' tales have them as enemies. Chiba and Bear became pals. Here they are sharing the same piece of sunshine. And, in the second picture - Chiba, having run around the house at high speed, screeches to a halt in front of Bear - who has watched this display, and now firmly holds his ground.
At night, they share our bed, and here, they get closer, and closer, and closer......
Can't get any closer than that!
This dog was sweet - he had a disposition like honey.
Chiba loved people. Actually, he figured visitors were there to see him. So he gave them the appropriate attention. People asked if he was vicious. I said "No, but he's been known to lick people to death."
When he was 10 years old, he was exposed to something new - and passed the test with his usual flying colors. He met little people - kids - for the very first time in his life. I was nervous. They pushed and shoved, petted and hugged him - he was his usual sweet self. What a dog!
I've already made the necessary arrangements and he and I will be buried together to resume our companionship for eternity.