2AA National Dog of Japan

September 10, 2007

The Akita is docile, but sometimes spontaneous. Careful and very affectionate with its family. Intelligent, courageous and fearless. It is very willful and needs firm training as a puppy.

When our friends S and B introduced us to Warrior, their Akita, they warned us that he would be very suspicious. He would check us out very carefully, just to make sure that S and B, his “owners” (though as with cats, it is difficult to know who owns whom) would be safe in the company of the Randoms.

Indeed, the first time we met him, he did bark at us fiercely. After he sniffed us and examined us carefully, he decided it was safe to allow us to remain in the presence of S and B.

The Akita needs moderate but regular exercise to stay in shape.

When S and B come to Washington to work on getting a retirement home site, they rent a pleasant cabin overlooking a very quiet fjord on the coast and invite us to stay with them. There’s a broad expanse of lawn, and a trail leads down to a pleasant beach walk. B took Warrior for a walk and then S and B took us out for dinner.

The next morning, when we entered the living room, Warrior again barked fiercely at us, just in case aliens had substituted impostors, but after inspection and sniffing, we once again passed muster.

This breed can be very food-possessive and willful.

Warrior’s meal time is an impressive occasion. B mixes Warrior’s food into a kind of stew and heats it up as Warrior watches carefully to make sure it is being prepared properly and to make sure it is not being nabbed by an interloper (such as us). He then eats his food with intense satisfaction and appreciation. After his initial barking and inspection, Warrior is quite friendly. One might figure his bark is worse than his bite. However, consider the following story, told to us by B:

“Next door to our house in Portland, there is another house, surrounded by a fence. A cat lives on the other side of the fence. After a while, Warrior and the cat developed the habit of sniffing noses through the fence in a friendly manner.

“One day, the cat decided to come through the fence (which had a large enough gap for a cat but not a dog to get through) to play with Warrior. As soon as the cat had came through the fence, Warrior—who is capable of moving faster than you can even see, seized the cat in his jaws. He hadn’t even started to chomp down yet, and we were able to get him to release the cat—still unharmed—but we have no doubt that Warrior had the intent of having the cat for a snack.

“The cat no longer comes through that gap in the fence.”

Warrior was a “rescue” dog, removed from the home of an elderly person with too many pets and unable to care for them properly. The animals had to be removed from the home where they lived in squalor and put up for adoption.

As with the adoption of a child, S and B had to go through a long and difficult “vetting” process to make sure they would be good parents for Warrior.

“We’re pretty sure Warrior was the ‘alpha dog’ of the large pack in his old home. He certainly knows how to fight with great skill,” B told us.

“On a couple of occasions since we’ve had him, other dogs have tried to attack him. As with the case of the cat, we’re were able to get control of him before any real damage was done, but we have no doubt that he would have killed the attacking dogs if the fight had proceeded.

“He doesn’t make a lot of noise or waste a lot of energy. He goes down low and attacks with great efficiency. He obviously knows how to fight.”



My wife and I are cat people rather than dog people. We have never kept a pet in the forty-one years of our marriage. In part this decision was the result of my allergy to cats—I can be around one for a couple of days, but longer exposure than that starts to “get to” me. Also, once we had a child, and were still working, we decided to focus our attention and energy on our daughter. As very selfish people, we realized we had only so much attention and generosity to squander.

Finally, although many pets seem to take care of themselves fine while their owners are away at work, it always struck us is as not very kind to a pet to leave it alone in an apartment all day.

We have talked about getting a cat when we both retire. Some breeds—the “Siberian” breed in particular—are said to be less allergenic than others.

However, before I take on the responsibility of owning a cat, even one touted as hypoallergenic, I would have to do some intensive testing before proposing.

Mad scientists are now bringing genetically modified “hypo-allergenic” cats to market. I’m not sure I want to pay $4,000 for a cat that doesn’t make me sneeze. I’m pretty old-fashioned—I don’t eat genetically modified food, and I’m not sure I want to pet a genetically modified cat, either.

If we do get a cat, we would have to keep it inside. We have coyotes around, and they like to snack on cats.

Although I am not a “dog” person, I have to admit I was impressed by Warrior. He would certainly keep our garden safe from bunnies, and a fierce guard dog does have its appeal out here in the country. As peaceful as it does seem out here, there are human predators as well as animal ones out here—just as my antisocial wife likes the peace and quiet of the exurban landscape, so do meth dealers and burglars and other, less restrained and less polite introverts.

But we still like cats. Wonder if I’m allergic to leopards?





9 Responses to “2AA National Dog of Japan”

  1. teaspoon Says:

    We had an Akita when I was growing up. Her name was Bella, and she was a magnificent dog. She never tried to eat other pets, but she did bite my brother on the forehead when he was a toddler. She got gentler and happier as she became senile in her old age.

  2. modestypress Says:

    “got gentler and happier as she became senile in her old age.”

    I’d like to think this is our future, but just as some people become “mean drunks,” I suspect Mrs. Random and I will become mean senile old people.

  3. teaspoon Says:

    And Carter is already warning me that he’s going to be a grumpy old man.

  4. Vicky Says:

    Quite honestly, teaspoon,as a parent of a toddler, I doubt that “magnificent dog” would have been given the opportunity to grow old and senile at my house.

    Speaking of coyotes Random, my husband just tracked and killed one of those that was lurking around our place. He’s not a hunter by any means, but we have cattle, chickens and cats around outside! He was protecting our investment.

  5. mommy Says:

    Hubby & I are cat people and have several in our 28 years of marriage. He, too, is quite allergic to them, but finds that longer exposure doesn’t really make it worse. He’s careful to wash his hands a lot and tries not to let them lay on his face (not always an easy task). Up until this year, we always had strays and rescues, but we just “discovered” the Siamese and are totally taken in by them. I’d highly recommend one and they aren’t terribly expensive. They have a lot of fun traits and are great company.

  6. teaspoon Says:

    Vicky —
    The biting incident was a one-time thing. We all deserve second chances, even dogs.
    Our other childhood dog, a Borzoi (or Russian Wolfhound, if you prefer) broke my collarbone, although that was an accident on both our parts. I guess we don’t have a good track record! 🙂 At any rate, we all loved the dogs. When my brother was still quite young, he once said to my mother “Mama, I love you almost as much as I love Bella.” (Bella, for those who have forgotten, is the dog who bit him on the forehead.)

    If we hadn’t killed off all the wolves, coyotes would be much less of a problem. Of course, wolves would occasionally kill livestock and domestic animals too. But, quite frankly, they were there first. I’m always surprised by people’s outrage when wild animals kill domestic animals in places where housing has infringed upon the wildlife’s habitat.

  7. Cameron Says:

    I fully believe that, like drinking, age only intensifies the personality one already possesses.

    My cranky tortoiseshell tabby (torbie) only got cranker as she got older, but she hung around for more than twenty years. Our current tuxedo tabby couldn’t get any sweeter, so I don’t know what senior life will bring for her!

    Random, I agree with you about leaving an animal, especially a dog, home alone for long stretches. I’m amazed at the people who will go to great expense to acquire a large dog, “crate” it during the day, and have, at most, a tiny yard for it to play. Just seems cruel to me.

    We’re hoping we’ll be blessed with a stray or rescue cat that can be a companion for our little tabby. We’re not gone often, but she’d play more with another cat, I think. Though she seems to prefer small dogs, but that’s not happening in this family–I’m not a fan and they require more care.

  8. Pete Says:

    I keep telling you Random, GET A CHICKEN!

  9. Monica Says:

    I realize this is an older article, but as the Mom to two beautiful Akitas, I can tell you that they are more dog than any average dog person can handle.

    They require a special type of person to love and raise them.

    They do have a wicked sense of humor though, and are VERY catlike……. big catlike. They stalk their prey like the big cats of the wild. They even groom themselves like cats. My male always grooms my female, much to her aggravation at times. She generally lets him know when she’s had enough.

    Thank you for your writings about your friends Warrior. I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

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