Showsight Presents The Akita

THE AKITA

The Akita’s roots can be traced to the mountainous terrain of Japan where a thick coat, strength, and agile movement were necessary for sur- vival. In his driving, purposeful movement, the Akita combines great power with precision and smoothness. Every step is a purposeful expres- sion of the dog’s will and determination. His gait is balanced, efficient, and covers the ground with brisk strides characterized by balanced reach and drive. As a breeder and judge, I look for movement that “covers the ground” smoothly and efficiently while maintaining a level topline. Quite simply, racing around the ring at a high rate of speed does not compensate for proper reach and drive. Keep in mind, it’s okay to ask a handler to slow down. The breed’s character is reserved and silent with people, and domi- nant over other canines. If an Akita barks, there’s usually a reason. The Akita is alert and watchful and can be intolerant toward other dogs, par- ticularly of the same sex. The breed is known for its loyalty and devotion to family. Friendly, confident strangers are treated with respect, but tres- passers will find a formidable guardian. It is not unusual for an Akita to position themselves between their owner and others and to move in a way that preserves that position. Akitas are often labeled as stubborn and untrainable; nothing is fur- ther from the truth. I like to think of them as independent thinkers who are extremely smart. I witnessed this independent nature while watching one of my Akitas on a long down in Obedience. It was a warm, sunny day, and when “JD’s” handler put him on a long down, left the ring, and wait- ed behind a blind, my dog got up, walked over to the shady area next to the judges, and lay down. As if on cue, he went back to his original posi- tion before his handler returned to the ring. Imagine his surprise when he was told that “JD” failed the exercise and why! He did eventually pass and earn his CDX, but his behavior spoke volumes about the nature of Akitas. That said, Akitas are great and willing participants in AKC Conforma- tion and the growing list of AKC Companion and Performance events. All it takes is patience, time, and understanding that an Akita is an intel- ligent dog that is easily bored but loves spending time with its people and, generally speaking, wants to please and make them happy. Finally, I’m honored and proud to be Chair of the Akita Club of America’s Judges Education Committee. I work with an amazing group of ladies who are the experts in the breed. Two of our members were among the first to have Akitas in the United States. It is our unique mis- sion to provide current and potential judges with the knowledge they need to evaluate Akitas in the Conformation ring. This is no simple task, knowing they must accurately apply the AKC Standard and fairly

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022 | 189

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