BY LINDA WOLF, OKAMI AKITAS Akita
T he Akita Breed Standard states, “Large, powerful, alert, with much substance and heavy bone.” As a judge, handler, or exhibitor at a dog show, you have many times watched the Akitas in the ring; the power- ful male or beautiful bitch making their way around the ring or creating a breathtaking stance for their handler. Now I would like for you to meet another side of this breed: the Performance Akita. Yes, I said “Performance.” This breed can be seen in Rally, Obedience, and even Agility rings. Akitas are also competing in Barn Hunt, Scentwork, and Fast CAT. Many are earning the three levels of Canine Good Citi- zen, Temperament Test titles, and Farm Dog. The special ones are also Therapy Dogs! Training an Akita for performance is not an easy feat. This breed bores easily. Teach them something, they pick it up fast. Repeat it more than a few times and the Akita is ready to move on—do it, move on. When you see us take the leash off at a trial, that Akita is ready and their owner/handler is confident that their Akita is of great temperament and ready for the task. Not all of our Akitas can compete at higher levels in Rally or Obedience, however, due to the requirement for off-leash heeling. While our Akita may be able to complete the task, the dog’s owner may not feel confident without the leash. It happens. We simply move on to another performance activity that our Akita can suc- cessfully compete in. We adapt and continue to have fun with our well-trained Akita. Many of us have trained multiple dogs from puppyhood and have had success in many areas of performance. The Akita National Specialty was held this year in Mesa, Arizo- na. Rally and Obedience trials were offered two of the days. There was also the first-ever Scentwork Trial held at an Akita National. Numerous Akitas qualified! For the balance of this article, you will hear from the owners of some of those special Akitas. One such Akita is “Gabby,” a nearly 12-year-old who is the most-titled Akita in the history of our breed. She has quite a following and brings a smile to not only her owner, Barbara Sikkink, but also to all who meet her. She is one of the “special” ones.
My “special” one, “Heston,” has sadly left us. He never met a stranger and he loved all people. He was also a Therapy Dog. He loved it. Once, he was even a Show-N-Tell for my grandson’s kin- dergarten class! Heston had a lot of “try.” We might not have quali- fied each time we entered the ring, but we had fun. Heston’s favorite performance activity was Agility. He disliked sitting—he really did. Imagine a Rally/Obedience dog that did not want to sit. That was Heston. He did grace me with a sit on most occasions, but other times he just looked up at me and smiled. Anyway, Agility did not have any sits. Watching this boy fly over jumps with a smile on his face was amazing. Other times in the ring, I watched him make his own course and just followed along. Heston is the most-titled male in the history of our breed. Heston was a Performance Akita.
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