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Tag: akita

For this Hachi, the wait is over

Rescued by firefighters, an Akita-chow mix named Hachi had burns over 60 percent of his body when he arrived at a southern California animal hospital.

That was back in the fall of 2009 when the dog was pulled from a Gardena auto shop that had been set ablaze in an apparent suicide.

Over the weeks he received treatment for his burns at the Affordable Animal Hospital in Torrance, dozens of people expressed interest in adopting him — but no one followed through. About a year ago, Hachi — after surviving the fire, after prolonged and costly medical treatment — appeared headed for a sadly ironic end.

When Faith Summerson, founder of Pal Rescue, heard Hachi was about to be euthanized by the county shelter due to lack of space, she stepped forward, and Hachi was rescued again.

She picked him up and sought to find him a forever home  – keeping him in one of her kennels and later at her own home.

Pal Rescue was founded in 1995 and has helped find homes for over 3,000 cats and dogs. Hachi, though — despite gaining notoriety on the Internet, because of his unusual appearnace, as the “Terminator” dog — didn’t appear destined to become one of them.

Until last month, when his year and a half wait ended.

After his story appeared on the news, Pal Rescue reports, they heard from a man who had recently lost his own dog. While many had offered him dogs to fill the void of his previous dog’s death, he had turned them all down, opting to wait instead for a dog  who truly needed him — one not everybody else would want.

Call it rescue No. 3 for Hachi, a dog named, after his first rescue, for the legendary Akita, Hachiko, who waited every day at a train station in Japan for his master to return from work — and continued to do so for another 10 years after his master’s death.

The rescue organization reports that  Hachi’s new dad is “a very dedicated and experienced dog owner that has had many beloved dogs in his lifetime, and always gravitated to the ones most in need.”

“The two hit it off immediately when we home delivered Hachi yesterday … Hachi was at ease the moment he walked in the door.”

You can find Hachi’s full story at petfinder.com

Hachiko had cancer, Japanese scientists find

Seventy-five years after his death, scientists say they have determined what killed Hachiko, the legendary Akita whose story has been immortalized in his native Japan and the rest of the world.

Japan’s most famous dog — though rumors have persisted for decades that worms did him in, or that he swallowed a chicken skewer that ruptured his stomach — had heart and lung cancer, scientists now say.

Hachiko became legendary for the loyalty he showed by waiting for his owner every day at a train station — for 10 years after his master died.

Hachiko died in 1935 at the age of 13. After his death, researchers at what is now the University of Tokyo performed an autopsy on Hachiko’s body and discovered roundworms in his heart and liquid collected in his abdomen.

Using more sophisticated tests like MRI’s,  the Mainichi Daily News reports, a team of scientists at the University of Tokyo team analyzed Hachiko’s preserved organs and discovered large cancers in the heart and lungs. They speculated that the cancer may have spread from the lungs to the heart. Hachiko also had filariasis (a worm-caused diseased), and it’s possible that could have caused his death as well, said professor Hiroyuki Nakayama, part of the research team.

Hachiko’s preserved organs are displayed at a University of Tokyo resource center in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, along with a bust of his owner. A “stuffed” Hachiko is also on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. A statue of Hachiko was erected in his honor at Shibuya Station.

Hachiko accompanied his owner, a university professor named Eisaburo Uyeno, to the train station every day and watched him leave for work. Every evening the dog would be waiting for him when he returned. When Uyeno died, Hachiko continued going to the train station every day to wait for his master for about ten years.

The legend has been told in numerous forms in the 75 years since, most recently as a childrens’ book and a 2009 movie remake, re-set in Rhode Island, starring Richard Gere.

Hachiko-inspired movie sidesteps big screen

The modern-day, Richard Gere-infused retelling of the story of a loyal Japanese dog named Hachiko won’t be showing in theaters in the U.S.

Instead the movie, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” will make its American debut on Sunday on the Hallmark Channel, the New York Times reports.

The movie, which has already sold more than $45 million in tickets during its release in Asian, European and South American markets, is a contemporary retelling of the story of Hachiko, an Akita who, when his human companion, a college professor, died suddenly at work, continued for two years to return to the train station to wait for him.

Gere plays the professor and is also the movie’s producer. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who also directed the Swedish coming-of-age film “My Life as a Dog.”

“Hachi” was shot primarily in Rhode Island, using three Akitas to play the different stages of the dog’s life.

“Hachi,” the Times reports, was not eagerly received by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio which controlled its distribution. Sony opted not to release it in American theaters.

“You think of all the people who really love their animals, love their dogs, love their cats, would embrace this specific movie,” Gere said. “But Sony just had no imagination for it. It was really bizarre.”

Hallstrom said the studio’s strategy was “a mistake of being overly worried about the size of the movie as opposed to the emotional impact of it.”

The Hallmark Channel, which broadcasts about 22 original movies a year, stepped in and bought it, and will premiere the film Sunday night.

Soaking up Santa Fe

It’s a spa eat spa world, especially here in Santa Fe – a massage Mecca, a hot tub haven and home to hundreds of practitioners of the so-called healing arts who are willing to manipulate, realign or otherwise cleanse and bring peace to your body and soul.

But among the surfeit of spas, there’s one that has risen above the rest – at least in terms of its size and its fame — and it has something more going for it than detoxifying herbal wraps, exfoliating salt glows and facial masques that make use of sanitized nightingale droppings.

Ten Thousand Waves allows dogs, both in its cottages and in its private baths, and that, in case you’re wondering, is how I – one who feels uncomfortable being disrobed in the privacy of my own home (when I had one) — ended up buck naked in the mountains of New Mexico.

But not with nightingale poop on my face.

At the recommendation of the person for whom I am pet sitting, who once worked there, and upon hearing it was dog friendly – unusual for spas, which can be pretty unrelaxed about their rules – Ace and I headed up to Ten Thousand Waves yesterday.

The Japanese-style spa was opened in 1981, by a “child of the 60’s” who got his start in the business world by selling T-shirts at Woodstock. Originally, Duke Klauck planned to open a storefront in Santa Fe with a couple of hot tubs, but when a prime piece of countryside became available just outside the city limits, he snapped it up – to the displeasure of some neighbors.

One of them, shortly after the spa opened, showed his opposition by building a pen for a dozen of his pigs at the edge of his property, six feet away from one of the tubs. The news media picked up the story, providing Ten Thousand Waves with much early publicity, and a judge later ordered the pigpen moved. The bathhouse containing the tub was subsequently named Kobuta, which means piglet in Japanese.

When I called to reserve a private bath, I requested that one. Dogs are permitted in the private baths, but not the public ones, and they are not allowed in the tubs, I was told. I asked about getting a head and neck massage, but was told dogs aren’t allowed in massage rooms, as they would distract both the rubber and the rubbee. It was suggested that I could put the dog in my car during that time, but, even with Santa Fe’s mild temperatures and the spa’s shaded parking lot, I, for reasons of pawlitical correctness, passed on that.

Ace and I arrived in the afternoon, climbing the 90 stairs to the lobby (and burning 45 calories in the process, according to the sign). We were given a robe and directed to the men’s locker room. Guests are asked to shower before their baths, which I guess makes sense in an odd way.

I looped Ace’s leash over a towel peg while I showered and, even though he blocked the entire row of lockers, none of the other guests seemed upset by his presence. He sat patiently, and didn’t stick his nose into anyone’s private areas. I robed myself, and we walked back down to the lobby, where we were directed to our bathhouse.

It was surrounded by bamboo fence, and had a large wooden tub, five feet in diameter, and the water was a toasty 105 degrees. When I turned on the jets, Ace watched with interest for a while, then settled down at the tub’s edge while I gradually immersed my naked self. When I got to the point of overheating, I walked over to the “cold plunge” and took a dip in freezing cold water.

It was an amazingly tranquil little spot, and Ace seemed calmed by it, too. When the five minute warning came, we didn’t want to leave — either our tub or the spa, which with its koi pond and waterfalls seems to suck the stress right out of you.

Ten Thousand Waves is modeled after spas in Japan and, for years, Klauck’s Akita, named Kojiro, roamed the grounds, followed by another Akita. Though Klauck’s intent was to simply provide some hot tubs, the spa now has more than 100 independent massage therapists on contract and a staff of about 90.

Dogs have always been permitted – both in the resort’s cottages (for an additional $20) and in the private baths (which cost $30 an hour).

“It certainly fits in with Duke’s whole philosophy. He loves dogs. He’s always had a special affection for dogs and an empathy for dog owners. I don’t know of many other spas that allow dogs,” said Bob Sheffield, the front desk supervisor who’s known at the spa as Buddha Bob.

“We have guests come in with dogs about every other day,” said “A lot of out of town guests are traveling with a dog and they prefer not to have to lock it up in a car of board it in some kennel. Dog lovers like the companionship of their dogs in all the things they do, and by being dog friendly, it really makes them feel more welcome.”

Ace and I felt the love, and none of the uppity-ness that, though we don’t frequent such facilities, we’d guess are common in the spa experience. The healing arts can get a little high faluting, and spas can have a country-club snobiness about them. It was nice to find one that’s down to earth and, far more importantly, dog friendly.

Handler charged in van death of show dogs

The handler of seven show dogs who died after being left overnight in a hot van has been charged with eight counts of animal cruelty, authorities said.

Mary Wild, the handler, is free on $2,500 bond, according to a report in the Kansas City Star.

Police said Wild left eight show dogs in the van last month after returning from a dog show in Iowa. Authorities said the temperature in the van could have reached 120 degrees.

Wild, 24, had been hired by the dogs’ owners to present the dogs at a show in Iowa. When she returned got home, about 1 a.m. on June 22, she left eight dogs in the van and went inside to sleep.

Seven of the eight dogs died of apparent heat stroke. The eighth dog, a Siberian Husky named Cinder, recovered and went home last week.

The other dogs, all purebreds and mostly large breeds, included a malamute, a dalmatian, three golden retrievers and an Akita.

Read more »

Hachiko: Japan’s dog story gets Americanized

hachiko

The story of Hachiko, an Akita who came to a train station in Tokyo to wait for his master every day – and for another 10 years after the man died — is coming to the big screen in an Americanized version that stars Richard Gere and takes place in Rhode Island.

The movie still features an Akita, and it’s still named “Hachiko,” but his master isn’t Hidesaburo Ueno, the professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo whose dog never stopped looking for him.

Instead, the story of one dog’s lifelong devotion to his owner centers around a Rhode Island music professor, played by Gere.

Lasse Hallstrom’s “Hachiko: A Dog’s Story” recently had its North American premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, and reportedly produced enough sniffling to rival “Marley & Me.”.

The movie, from Sony Pictures, is based on a screenplay by Stephen P. Lindsey’s, who adapted a Japanese film about Hachiko made 20 years ago.

Lindsey changed the setting to Rhode Island and updated the story, according to Reuters,  but retained the basic idea of a loyal Akita who achieves an almost transcendental bond with his owner.

Gere , who’s no stranger to things transcendental, is one of the producers of the film, the story line of which begins when the professor discovers an Akita puppy that has been abandoned at the train station where he commutes to work. He brings the dog home on a temporary basis, but it soon becomes a permanent member of his household.

The role of Hachiko is  played by three dogs as an adult and about 20 as a puppy.

The real Hachiko was present in April 1934, when a bronze statue in his honor was erected at Shibuya Station. The statue was recycled for the war effort during World War II, but recommissioned after the war. Takeshi Ando, son of the original artist, made the second statue, which was erected in August 1948, and still stands at one of the exits of Shibuya Station.

Man finally reunites with dog lost in Katrina

Jay Jay and Jessie are together again.

Jessie Pullins, separated from his dog Jay Jay during Hurricane Katrina, was reunited with the Akita mix yesterday — nearly four years later.

Pullins, busy helping 10 of his relatives evacuate, couldn’t take his dog with him when he left his house in New Orleans in 2005. Once he returned, weeks later, the dog was gone.

About a year later he saw his dog on TV, appearing, with a new owner, on an episode of the National Geographic Channel program, The Dog Whisperer.

An animal rescue group had saved Jay Jay from the home, and he was shuffled between different animal groups before being adopted in California.

After tracking Jay Jay down, Pullins entered a long legal battle, with assistance from the Katrina Animal Reunion Team, to try and get him back.

The legal wrangling ended recently when the woman who adopted Jay Jay decided to return him, WWL-TV in New Orleans, reported Tuesday. You can see a video here.

Pullins, who is one of the pet owners featured in the documentary, Mine: Taken by Katrina,  said he has no hard feelings toward the woman for resisting his attempts to get Jay Jay back.

“Everybody falls in love with Jay Jay. He’s lovable. I don’t fault them.”

Mixed up dog — one last dance with DNA

What do these four breeds have in common — besides getting labeled as vicious from time to time?

All four (Rottweiler, Akita, chow and Staffordshire terrier, aka pit bull) are in my dog Ace, according to yet another DNA test (last one, I promise). The best guess now is that one of Ace’s parents was a Rottweiler, the other a combination of Akita, Chow and pit bull.

Together, they formed this creature:

How the product of four “feared” breeds could be such a gentle giant might be explained several ways.

For starters, they aren’t vicious breeds — just breeds that, due to the acts of a few members, have seen themselves smeared as a whole. Secondly, we would contend, when you start mixing up breeds, though some purebred purists might be offended by it, some wonderful things can happen. Third, maybe, just maybe, nurture is more important than nature.

Then again, maybe DNA testing — scientifically solid as it may be — isn’t always the full and final answer.

After all this was our third test, and our third different diagnosis.

The first DNA analysis was performed in connection with the Baltimore Sun series, “Hey Mister What Kind of Dog is That?” The Canine Heritage test from Metamorphix, using a cheek swab taken from Ace, determined he was Rottweiler and Chow. At the time, the test checked for 38 breeds.

The second came after Mars Veterinary offered us a free Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis kit, which can detect the presence of more than 150 breeds. This one required a visit from a vet to take Ace’s blood, and the results showed he was 50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Akita, and 25 percent other unknown breeds.

While we were waiting for our results on that one, Canine Heritage got back in touch to let us know the newer version of their  test — still using a cheek swab — could now detect 100 breeds. They offered us a free re-test, so we swabbed Ace’s mouth again.

The results of that one arrived in the mail last week.

Makers of the tests say it helps dog owners better understand their pets’ behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems, many of which are prevalent among certain breeds. In that regard, testing a dog’s DNA can serve a useful purpose. But there’s a potential for misusing them as well — if, for instance, they ever become a tool for enforcing breed bans.

In that case, Ace, with his components, would be Public Enemy No. 1. Should that ever come to pass, none of this ever happened, and Ace is actually a, uh … Portuguese water dog/Labradoodle mix.

Does what’s in the mix really matter?

Now that I know Ace is a “Rokita” mix (50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Akita, 25 percent anybody’s guess), what can I do with the information?

And what of Elliot? Does knowing his somewhat fuzzier lineage — 25 percent golden retriever, 25 percent boxer, and 50 percent unknown — provide any information that might be helpful to him and his owners?

The experts at Mars Veterinary, makers of the Wisdom Panel MX mixed breed analysis, say yes — that knowing what’s in your mutt can help you better understand his or her behavior, and better be on the lookout for potential medical problems.

With Ace, they say, I should be aware of the potential for hip and elbow dysplasia, as both of the known breeds in him are prone to that. I should keep him on the lean side (something I’ve been unable to do with myself), and consider supplementing his diet with glucosamine, for optimal joint health. Also, since Rottweilers and Akitas are both prone to cataracts and other eye problems, I should keep an eye on his eyes.

With Elliot, hip dysplasia is also a concern, as, later in life, is cancer, which has a high incidence in boxers and golden retrievers. Elliot, based on the breeds found in him, could also be predisposed to skin issues, allergies and hypothyroidism.

Depressing as it all sounds – I, for one, would rather not know what afflictions lay ahead for me – I’ll admit that the information is somewhat useful.

Read more »

Ciao, chow chow, I’m Akita now

 

My dog’s lineage took another wild swerve last night when it was revealed that — contrary to an earlier DNA test that showed him to be Rottweiler and chow — he is actually Rottweiler and Akita.

The two detectable breeds in my dog Ace (left) and Elliot (right) were revealed at our “ohmidog! Identity Crisis and Breed Reveal Party,” which raised $500 for the Franky Fund for sick and injured animals at Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS).

While Ace’s mix was correctly guessed by a member of the crowd that gathered at the Idle Hour Tavern for the reveal, nobody nailed the two breeds that showed up in Elliot Gould: boxer and golden retriever.

Kelly Gould, Elliot’s owner — though she has nothing against boxers and golden retrievers — immediately demanded a recount, saying the DNA test’s findings were not at all in line with what she suspected.

Elliot, the winner of our “What’s in Your Mutt” contest, spent the day before the party at my house, where he behaved, in true mutt fashion, magnificently. At the Idle Hour, guests sized up Ace and Elliot, and tossed their guesses, along with their Franky Fund donations, into a fishbowl.

At 8 p.m., the envelopes were opened and the test results were announced. The two winners — in Elliot’s case, the person who came closest, picking boxer/shepherd — will receive ohmidog! sweatshirts. From the rest of the entries, three more winners were drawn to receive dog treat baskets, courtesy of K-9 Kraving Dog Food.

Thanks to K-9 Kraving, the Idle Hour, Mars Veterinary (makers of the Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed Analysis test kit), Dr. Johnny Slaughter (the vet who took the blood samples), and all those who showed up for the party.

(Tomorrow: Now what? We’ll take a look at what, if anything, the test results mean — to the dogs and their caretakers.)

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