Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Story

Someone sent me an email asking about how I came to be where I'm at now, and if I had any advice for someone interested in getting involved with the Japanese breeds. I was inspired to write a blog post about it.

I got to this point in time through following my passions. I'm the type of person who goes into fits at having to hunker down for a 9-5, and I figure 'work' takes up the majority of a person's life, so I'm going to choose mine carefully. I've found that letting my desire to enjoy what I'm doing, coupled with hard work and a willingness to take risks, has worked for me. I've had the opportunity to work with celebrities, run massive music festivals, work for international fashion brands, travel the world for free, direct film projects, do running translation on the radio, TV, medical translation, and broker huge international business contracts. And through all this I've met so many amazing people. When people ask me what I do for a living, I'm stumped. I do a lot of things. Really. And it would probably make your head spin if I started listing everything.

Breeding and exporting Nihon Ken was not something that I planned to do, and definitely not as a business. It still is not a business for me, it's an extension of who I am, and how I live my life. I've always tried to live as ethically and sustainably as possible, and that lead me to try out being a vegetarian for a while, but I had issues with that (another long conversation). I figured if I was going to eat meat (and plant matter too) I wanted it to be from an ethical, sustainable source. That lead me to hunting. I've always loved dogs, and already owned some terriers. Being in Japan I figured that the Japanese breeds were best suited to the terrain here, and since I get really immersed in everything I do, I started doing a lot of research and study on them. This lead to me realizing that there was a lot of misinformation online regarding the Japanese breeds, and in the interest of sharing what I was experiencing and learning, I started blogging. I realized I was in a special place being bilingual, and in Japan with direct access to all the people and dogs that I would need to meet. Because there was no one in my position, I knew I could make a big difference in the Nihon Ken globally.

My focus has been to get correct information out there. I put a lot of work into researching the things I say on my blog. I've spent years, and a lot of finances to drive long distances to meet people and see dogs. The amount of my life that I've poured into this passion boggles my mind sometimes. Somewhere along the way I started getting a lot of requests to help find dogs to send overseas. For the first few years I turned most of them down, and would only send a few dogs to friends. I always lost money on these projects. Finally one of my breeder mentors told me that if I truly wanted to make a difference in the prservation of the Japanese breeds here in Japan and overseas, I'd need to do it in a sustainable manner. I was getting slowed down by the fact that paying the bills would take precedence over my dogs, hunting, and sending dogs overseas. I was managing some rather large projects that would have me living out of hotels for months on end, away from my dogs. You can see some big blank spots in my blogging. That's what was going on.

I decided to make a change to be able to live the lifestyle I really wanted, to be in the mountains in Japan with my dogs. It took a few years of slogging it out in Tokyo to make it a reality, but now I've been out here for a year and a half and it's been terrific. I've been renovating an old cabin, building kennels, working with my dogs, and exporting a lot of dogs. I still work on other projects at times, but my life now revolves around my home and dogs. It doesn't get boring, as I get to travel a lot when I ship dogs overseas, and I've made some great friends all over the globe. My focus now is to live more sustainably, to help preserve and better the Japanese breeds, to improve the quality of the breeds overseas, and to learn and share what I've learned with everyone.

My advice to anyone who is really passionate about the Japanese breeds is to always keep an open mind, be forever open to learning, meet as many people and dogs as you can, have confidence in yourself and what you've learned, but be willing to be proven wrong and move on. There is so much petty arguing and rivalry in the dog world. I shake my head at it. Since my goals are preservation and betterment, I'm not competing with everyone else, I'm working with everyone else, preferably as many people as possible. If you produce a better dog than I do (whether for show/hunting/pet), I'm thrilled for you. I'll ask you how you did it, I will try harder to pursue breeding the type of dog that I think should be passed on to the next generation. If you beat me in show, I will applaud you because I understand that there are all sorts of factors that go into a show win. Maybe the judge has a preference, maybe I did not prepare myself or my dogs properly, maybe the dog was not in peak condition. I'm not competing against you. I'm competing against myself. I am pushing myself to create dogs that I can be proud of. I will do everything in my power to know that I did everything I could to raise a balanced beautiful animal, and I will enjoy doing it. In the end, I want to share that enjoyment with my friends. And of course, the more friends the merrier. Life is better for me when I am drawing ever larger circles that draw people and experiences in as opposed to smaller circles that keep everyone out.


  1. This is a beautiful post. I've always been in awe at all the work you (and some others) do for these breeds and the community. It's very inspiring!

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. I always look forward to reading your adventures, about the dogs and what you have learned. You inspire me to achieve my own goals with my dogs. So again, thank you!

  3. What you do for the nihon ken is amazing. Taking the time to blog and share your experiences with the world only helps bring us all together. Congratulations on following your passion! It is truly inspiring.