Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spring NIPPO Branch Shows 2017

Well show season is just around the corner, and since I've received a lot of email asking me for dates and locations, here's the link to the NIPPO page with the info.

February 26th, Chiba Branch (Ichihara city)
March 5th, Tochigi Branch (Ashikaga city)
March 12th, Saitama Branch (Koshigaya city)
March 19th, Ibaragi Branch (Tsuchiura city)
March 26th, Santama Branch (Hachioji city)
April 9th, Gunma Branch (Kanra gun)
April 16th, Kanagawa Branch (Ashigarakami gun)
April 23rd, Tokyo Branch - All Kanto Regional (Odaiba)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Tosa in Japan Today

Happy New Year! 2017 just kind of snuck up and started. That's how I feel anyway. Very excited to get on with another year though, and itching to move forward with a lot of cabin and dog related projects.

I started writing this post the other day because I receive inquiries from people looking for Tosa Inu rather frequently, and as always it's very time consuming to answer each one individually. So, here (finally) is a post about the breed's current state in Japan.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した写真 -

As I'm sure everyone knows, the Tosa Inu is a fighting breed. It's origins are in the local dogs of Shikoku island (the modern day Shikoku Ken), and many foreign breeds were added to the mix.

What most people are not aware of is the fact that dog fighting is still legal in Japan, and the Tosa is still fought. For the most part, the breed is bred to fight, and while today there are a few people who are starting to breed Tosa that are not involved in the fighting world, they are a tiny minority.

Another fact that most are unaware of is that generally Tosa in Japan do not have pedigrees. The Japan Kennel Club recognizes the breed, and as with all breeds recognizes one breed club. The club that is recognized by the JKC is affiliated with the Tosa Center in Shikoku, and they are the only club that can issue pedigrees. Generally the only dogs that have been issued pedigrees were for dogs that were sold overseas. The Kennel Club of Japan recently recognized the breed, and has an open studbook at the moment. However the KCJ is not FCI recognized.

Lastly, while the Tosa is considered an extremely large breed overseas, in Japan it is fought in an MMA style, with different weight classes. So Tosa in Japan generally range from 30kg upward to the 80kg plus size (that everyone overseas wants). It is a fighting breed, bred to fight, without a standard, and without a breed registry. With no registry, and no oversight, other fighting breeds are added to the 'Tosa' (whether breeders will admit to it or not is another matter).

There are many other things I could add to this, but for now I think this will suffice. The JKC club for Tosa has been inactive for some time, but I heard toward the end of last year that they are back in action. Hopefully this will lead to some direction for the breed that doesn't involved fighting. I am not interested in, and do not condone dog fighting. I currently own a 2 year old Tosa female, and a 1 year old Tosa/Pit/Corso/Mastiff.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 Show Season Part 3

Sorry, bit of a delay between posts. Tends to happen when it's the end of the year and the house is full of pups. I'm sitting here in lounge at Arlanda airport in Stockholm and have a few minutes so here goes.

After a harsh showing at the Kanto regional, there was still a week before the grand national. A bum knee and heaps of things to do cannot stop the process. After busting the knee I had to find a way to exercise Masa without it. I had a friend of mine take him walking through the mountains a few times while I, shotgun in hand, would lurk around the bottom of the ridges in case the boar came down or there were other problems. However, there's only so many times you can get your friend to hike the same mountain per week, so plan B. I trained Masa to follow or lead the car on command.

It goes like this... I'd drive up into the mountains with him, GPS him up, and let him out. Then I'd start driving. I'd call him forward in front of the car and let him full on fly. He got the idea really quickly and loved tearing along at full speed. That's what you need to build some good muscle, full on sprints. If he picked up boar scent, he'd perk up and be off into the mountain for a good run while I pulled over and watched on the GPS. He'd come back after a bit, and we were off again. It takes me around 2 hours to walk and care for all my dogs in the morn, and 2 hours again at night, so this would happen either in the afternoon before the night walk, or more often in the dark after the 2 hour dogathon.

The flip side of all this exercise is that it definitely increases a dog's appetite, and Masa's condition finally started picking up. By the time the weekend of the Grand National closed in, he was finally starting to bulk, and around 30 percent in coat. He's in much better condition now haha. Anyway, there were times through the process where I was quite frustrated. Masa's got his flaws, so the only thing I felt I could do to compete with the other males at a national level was to have him in near perfect condition. There were a couple males that I knew would be in the same class, and one in particular that I was sure we would not be beating. As it was, we did not beat this male, but Masa came in right behind him.

The NIPPO Grand National is split into two days. One day for the 'kogata' (small type or Shiba) and the other for the rest of the breeds. The best in show competition is on the second day after all the best of breeds have been decided. This year the shiba had Sunday, so the rest of the breeds had Saturday, which turned out to be a downpour. I left the house early Friday morning to help with picking up judges and setting up the show ground. By evening a contingent of Shikoku breeders from Shikoku had arrived, and we all set up camp together to spend the night with our dogs (a tradition). Long story short, Mark arrived, I made up a wicked boar stew, we bbq'd some fantastic ezo-shika venison, and got wickedly smashed drinking beer and some crazy sake brought up from Shikoku. The conversation continued long into the night, and after a few hours of sleep, we woke to the sounds of people arriving from all over the country pulling into the show ground.

It was cold, windy, and pouring rain. Mark proceeded to expel the contents of his stomach into the bushes behind the car. I wasn't too hot myself, but in a bit better condition. We walked the dogs, cleaned up, and started prepping. Standing in the doorway of our tent, I told Mark that you never really know what could happen at a show in rain like this. My dogs are used to being out in all weather, rain or shine, so think nothing of a little storm. Obviously some dogs/people will be bothered by the rain, and biggest point of all, the dampness would help Masa's coat look fuller.

I had one more job to do before going into the ring. To open the national, every year one entrant gets up in front of everyone to make a pledge to respect the judge's decisions and to exhibit fair play. This year I was given the honor, but I had a great time somewhat nervously belting out the pledge in front of the main tent and our current chairman Mr.Kamei.

As with the previous week, I decided to have Mark handle Masa. A part of me wanted to handle him myself after all the work I'd put in, but there was no way he'd be able to handle Cho. So off we went for the morning's first round of judging. We were in the wakainu 1 and wakainu 2 rings which were right next to each other. Cho did quite well in the morning, and Masa did okay. The morning's judging is where the judge checks each dog 1 by 1 and looks at structure/movement etc. The rain was by parts pouring and drizzling.

After a break for lunch, we headed back into the rings for the comparative judging. This is when the fun begins. All the dogs in class going head to head against each other, all of us wanting to be called up into the first group. Cho was doing so-so, and we got called up to the first group. That's when all hell broke loose and he would not stand anymore. The other males were to close and he kept lunging and pulling at them. We lost our chance to place, and ended up 5th I think. Just before the first group was called, someone whispered in my ear that Mark and Masa had just taken 2nd in class. Anyway, I was later berated by a few judges saying that the ring judge wanted to move Cho into second but since he wouldn't stand there was no way he could.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した写真 -

Anyway, final boarding call for London, so will have to continue this post at a later date.

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Show Season Part 2

It's a bit tough to get a dog in show shape with a messed up knee. To be honest we were not nearly in peak form by the time the national was rolling around, but all you can do is your best. The week before the national Mark and I dropped in on the NIPPO Kanto All Regional with Masa and Cho.

I opted to have Mark handle Masa since I practice with him every day on our walks, and he's pretty fool proof by now if you figure out how to move him. Cho on the other hand was pretty out of it since he hates cars and gets very carsick. In the end I think we both ended up last in class haha. But it was a good and necessary practice, albeit an ugly one. This was Cho's second show, and Masa's as well (his last show was in the spring). Neither dog was in peak form, but Masa's coat was finally starting to come in.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cold Days

The other day it was unseasonably cold. We had snow in Tokyo in November for the first time in 50 some years. As it does in Boso, it rained. And it was cold. Only thing to be done was fire up the furnace and toast the toes.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した動画 -


I don't quite have time to write another post just yet, so I'll just link this up from my Instagram.
This little girl is just about perfect.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した動画 -

Thursday, November 24, 2016

2016 Show Season Part 1

I guess the season started with the arrival of this leash. One day I was told a special package would be arriving from a NIPPO judge in Shikoku, and upon opening it, this leash was sitting there. That night I got a call about it, and was told it was a good luck charm for the upcoming show season which would culminate in the NIPPO Grand National hosted by us, the members of the NIPPO Chiba branch.

This leash has been used by 3 Grand National Shikoku best of breed during their winning show. Now, it's sitting here in my cabin. Don't know that I'll ever have the courage to actually use it...

Anyway, first show of the season was the Chiba regional. I showed my mentor's young male Chouhou Go. 

He's a very dry dog, with lots of potential, throwing strongly toward the Choushun type. It was his first show, and first time out of the house, so as you can imagine it was a bit iffy at times, but we took 2nd place in class.

Scheduling and other issues kept me from showing any more dogs the rest of the fall. My only show dog is Masa (Masamine Go), and he was ridiculously late blowing his coat, and didn't eat the whole summer. The females had gone through their heat cycles in the late spring, and everytime one would go in heat, he'd stop eating. Just as I got him to start eating again in the fall, the next round of heats started . It was a struggle to get any weight on him, and to try to get his coat to come in. 

I switched up his food a lot, added different toppings when he'd bore of his food, added hot water... encourage his coat to come in by washing him down with cold water every night and leaving him to air dry.

After the summer heat wave came to an end I started taking him out a few times a week off leash in the mountains, where suddenly he started chasing boar. Just when he seemed to be putting on a little mass, and his coat started to come in a bit, I injured my MCL and meniscus while surfing.

It just snowed today in Tokyo, which is ridiculously early, and it's freezing out there. But hey, time to walk the dogs now so I'll write some more tomorrow or the day after...