Showsight Presents The Akita

The Akita

BY SYLVIA THOMAS continued

Akita ownership presents some challeng- es and, as a result, they are not the breed for everyone. Personally, they fill me with laughter, unconditional love, and devotion. I can’t imagine and don’t want to think about my life without an Akita! ABOUT THE AUTHOR My tennis partner intro-

As Chair of the Judges’ Education Com- mittee, providing potential and current judges with the knowledge they need to judge Akitas is very important to me and the members of the Committee. With the support of the Akita Club of America, we are in the process of developing an Illus- trated Standard as a resource for judges, in particular, but it will also be a tool that can be used by breeders, owners, and others who are interested in the breed. For a new judge, it goes without saying that a knowledge of the Standard is critical, but understanding how to use the Standard to inform judging separates a great judge from an average one. I try to present a judge with a soundmethodology for their approach and examination of an Akita. My advice to anyone who is new to judging Akitas is to manage their ring, leaving adequate space between each dog and to initially and confidently greet the dogs by “waking the line.” This provides a first glimpse at both fronts and heads with a quick impression of eyes, ears, and expression. Then, take a look at the profiles of the dogs. This is an excel- lent opportunity to observe balance, front and rear, head and tail, topline, length of body, depth of chest, reaching to the elbow which should equal half the height of the dog at the withers. Of course, this is all fol- lowed by a thorough hands on examination of each dog, paying careful attention to the fine points that make an Akita distinct and unique, e.g. the shape of the eyes, carriage of the ears, the crest of neck blending into the shoulders, and so much more. Finally, a careful look at front, rear, and side gait. Then, it’s decision time! I got my first Akita in 1980 and have been owned and loved by them ever since. Although there are exceptions, you will probably not typically meet an Akita run- ning loose on the beach or in a dog park.

Having originated in mountainous ter- rain, the Akita is agile and moves with pur- pose. In his driving movement, the Akita combines great power with precision and smoothness. Every step is a purposeful expression of the dog’s own will. His gait is balanced and efficient. He covers the ground in brisk strides of moderate length characterized by good reach and drive. For me, moving at a high speed and racing around the ring, are not the same as “cover- ing ground.” Quite simply, it does not com- pensate for proper reach and drive. The breed’s character is reserved, silent, and dominant over other canines. Although the Akita is unruffled by minor irritations, he is alert and intolerant toward other dogs, particularly those of the same sex. Akitas are known for their loyalty and devotion to family. With their owners, the Akita is a delightful companion. Friendly strangers are treated with respect, but trespassers find the door, yard, and personal property pro- tected by a formidable figure. They are independent thinkers. I wit- nessed some of that independence while watching one of my Akitas on a long down in Obedience. It was a warm, sunny day, and when “JD’s” handler left the ring and waited behind a blind, my dog got up, walked over to the shaded area where the judges were seated and lay down. As if on cue, he went back to his original position before his handler returned. Imagine my handler’s surprise when he was told “JD” had failed the exercise and why! He did eventually pass and earned his C.D., but his behavior spoke volumes about the nature of Akitas! That said, Akitas do accept train- ing and can be very willing participants in Conformation, as well as Obedience, Com- panion, and Performance events. You just have to patient and it helps to be smarter than they are!

duced me to Akitas in 1979. Six months later, I “surprised” my husband, Frank,

with an 8-week old puppy who became the foundation of our line, Chiheisen (Hori- zon) Akitas. I’ve produced numerous champions including two National Spe- cialty and Best in Show winners, along with Registry of Merit producers, group winners, and numerous champions and loving com- panions. I’ve owned three generations of National Specialty winners. I’ve also bred and campaigned Samoyeds. I have held var- ious offices with the Akita Club of America and serve as the Chair of the Judges Educa- tion and Illustrated Standard Committees. I am a licensed AKC Judge, belong to two Parent Clubs, and two All Breed Kennel Clubs, serving as the AKC Delegate for one. As a Delegate, I am Chair and Editor of Perspectives. Professionally, I’ve been in education my whole life, first as a tenured college faculty member and then as a senior administrator, holding various titles includ- ing Vice Chancellor of Human Resources and Diversity and retiring as Associate Vice Chancellor of Educational Services Emeri- tus for Riverside Community College Dis- trict where I was recently inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.

314 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2019

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