“...LARGE, POWERFUL, STUBBORN, INTUITIVE, AND LOYAL WITH COMEDIC SENSE— it could also be said that the Akita has an indomitable spirit and ‘heart’.”
intelligence and, despite their obvious sense of dignity, their uncanny sense of humor! Th e Akita is one of a handful of breeds which possesses the innate ability to “think for themselves”. Th is is not to say they won’t respect your authority but they must see a reason to do what you’re asking them to do, especially if it’s repetitive. For this reason, when training in performance events, it becomes imperative to be firm but patient and keep it interesting, chal- lenging and fun for the Akita. More than one Akita owner has found themselves on the receiving end of an Akita’s boredom induced comedic antics at just the wrong moment! Th e owner of a Veteran Akita at the Akita Club of America National Spe- cialty thought she’d like to try her dog in a Rally run-through, even though he had not ever participated, she thought he might like to try it. On a sit/stay, she gave the command and he sat, very, very slow- ly. He then proceeded to bark at her each time she looked at him! She had success- fully taught him the “speak” command in the past and though she had not given the command in the quiet room—he clearly had decided that he did not see a reason to sit with all these people watching him and wanted to liven things up a bit! When corrected for “speaking”, he proceeded to not only bark but o ff ered her a “high five” to the delighted laughter and applause of those watching! While the Akita is loyal to a fault, this leads to a natural a ffi nity to guard its home and those in its home. Upon first meeting, the Akita may appear aloof until it quietly assesses your intentions and perceives you to be no threat and then it may approach you as a way of introduction. What you will experience is a large, powerful canine moving fluidly, almost catlike and gen- tly to its visitor o ff ering a gentle nudge of their hand or simply sitting by your side accepting a few gentle pats on the head.
It was for this reason that Andi Meloon donated an Akita for Bill Bobrow to train as a service/seeing eye dog for Dr. Je ff rey Fowler in 1994, a heart surgeon who lost his eyesight! Dottie the service dog was welcome at the o ffi ce and the hospital as Dr. Fowler continued his work with Dot- tie as his eyes and other surgeons as his hands. She exemplified the intelligence of the breed and the knowledge that she had work to do and attended to Dr. Fowler and his patients with gentle, calming reassur- ance. For her service, Dottie was awarded the Delta Society Service Dog of the Year Award in 1994. Perhaps, aside from all of the usual superlatives used to describe the Akita— large, powerful, stubborn, intuitive, and loyal with comedic sense—it could also be said that the Akita has an indomitable spir- it and “heart”. In closing, there is another example of the breed’s essence in the 2001 ACE award winner from the “Companion Dog” category. One dark morning in the city of New York, Chilie, an 8-year-old female Akita smelled smoke in her apart- ment. She began to bark and then run to the adult’s closed door, scratching at it in an attempt to wake them to no avail. Chile then went to the children’s room where her two kids lie asleep and pulled the covers o ff of them and began pawing at them to wake them…it worked! Th ey began screaming which woke the adults and the family fled the apartment with Chilie hot on their heels urging them to keep running! Th e apartment was a total loss, the family and their hero dog displaced. Th ey were able to keep her with them for a while but due to an illness, the family was forced to give her up. Akita Rescue of Western New York stepped in after digging into their own pockets, transporting her across three state lines with assistance from many in the Aki- ta community, to be fostered in Pennsylva- nia awaiting a long shot at adoption since
her age was a deterrent. Far away in Cali- fornia, Hogan Sung was surfing the web to build a memorial page for his beloved deceased bulldog, coincidentally, named Chilie when he read her story and just had to have her! He flew 3000 miles to see her and bring her back home to California with him! Unfortunately, perhaps because of the stress of the relocation at her age and losing her family, Chilie su ff ered gastric torsion in California and underwent sur- gery….once again, the indomitable Akita spirit manifested itself and despite all pre- dictions and warnings that she may not survive the surgery, Chilie beat the odds and, not only survived the surgery, she lived out her natural life accepting another rescue Akita that Mr. Sung adopted, lov- ing and being loved, seemingly unaware of her “hero” status Th e Akita… strong, quiet, dignified, majestic and sometime class clown…the opportunity to get to know one is most certainly worth the time…so much more than a working dog, more like a “heart” dog. While the breed is not for everyone, it is a breed that when respected and raised in a knowledgeable environment might just teach us humans a thing or two about how to have “heart”! All in a day’s work for the extraordinary Akita! BIO Julie Mayes has been involved in Akitas for over 22 years, handling and breeding under the prefix “Kokoro”. Julie is a mem- ber of the Akita Club of America, a past member of the Board of Directors for the ACA, the “AKC Gazette” Akita Working Columnist, Judges Education Mentor for the Akita and an AKC Breeder of Merit. She has co-presented Akita Handling sem- inars at the ACA National Specialty and is a past and current ACA National Spe- cialty Assistant Show Chair. She resides in Michigan with her family and 5 Akitas.
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