Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Shikoku Database - we need some help

So thanks to my friend Nico over at Kasatori Sou http://www.shikoku-pedigree.com/ has been up for a while now, and as of today there are 500 dogs registered. This database will be very important for the breed's preservation, deciding which breedings to do, and tracking genetic issues.

I have a database that was passed on to me by a good friend and NIPPO member. It contains decades of pedigrees, and over 10,000 entries. The data is a bit jumbled, so I'll have to organize it, but I promised him I would carry on his legacy and record as many Shikoku pedigrees as possible.

Nico and I are working on a Japanese side of http://www.shikoku-pedigree.com/ so that entries can be made in Japanese (but added to the same database). My goal is to make the database available for NIPPO members here in Japan to use.

Nico and I are volunteering our time to get the framework up and running, but we need some help. First, we'll need someone with some skill in coding. The Shikoku DB is based off of this site http://thewhippetarchives.net/ . If you look at this dog's pedigree http://thewhippetarchives.net/details.php?id=198364, above the generational pedigree table there is a button 'pedigree analysis' you can click to show COI http://thewhippetarchives.net/coi/coi.php?id=198364

I very much want to add this functionality to the Shikoku database, and we need some help doing it! Any ideas or volunteers?

The second step of the process we'll need help with is manually entering all the data I have. With so many entries it will take me years to find enough time to enter all the dogs. I just pulled out one page with 250 entries, and all the dogs in it were older than me. I'll need people with some time and willingness to tackle portions of the data, uploading it to the site. Nico will be working on the Japanese side in February, so we'll need help with entering the data once the site is ready.

Feel free to comment here with any ideas, suggestions etc, or hit me up on FB or via email at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com

Friday, January 16, 2015

Radioactivity in Boars

When we were planning the treehouse project, they originally asked me to slaughter a boar and do a 'nabe' (sort of a Japanese stew). I agreed, but then some of the mothers from Fukushima objected to using boar due to the high levels of radioactivity boar amass by virtue of rooting around through forest debris and eating mushrooms, earthworms, etc.

So, I decided to test one of the boar I had taken a week earlier. The 'safe' level for food has been set at 100 becquerels/kg (the notion that we have a 'safe' level is ludicrous in my opinion, as the radiation shouldn't be there), and after Fukushima we have had a serious problem with rising levels in Chiba prefecture. Just over a year ago the government halted wild boar meat sales from Chiba prefecture due to an animal being tested that was over the limit. This advisory is still in place.

I've continued to hunt and eat the boar down here since due to geographics the levels of radiation down here at the tip of the peninsula have been much lower. Anyway, my boar came back at 20 bq/kg. Not a bad number, I would not have been surprised if it had been a bit higher. Still, good to know where we're sitting in regards to the radiation problem.

Our numbers don't seem to be nearly as bad as Germany's http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/11068298/Radioactive-wild-boar-roaming-the-forests-of-Germany.html  though the numbers in Fukushima are VERY bad.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

NIPPO Grand National 2014

Another extremely late post, but I have so many pictures from the show to look through, so I've been procrastinating.

The show was held back in November. I had friends from all over the world dropping in for the show, so I was busy visiting kennels, sightseeing, traveling etc from the week before the show, on to the week afterward. Plus there were a lot of people taking dogs back, which meant I was housing those pups and preparing them for export. Those were some pretty full on weeks right there.

Iwahori-san and I had plans to show several dogs, but of course things didn't go according to plan. Orin came into heat and was bred before the show (breed preservation comes first!), Mumu chewed part of her coat (and went out of coat), Koto was not in show condition either, which left Taka as the lone dog that could be shown. Taka is actually a long story in that he was never actually my dog, and I was just caring for him and getting him ready for show.  A month before the show I sent him to his new home near the grand national venue. There was a possibility that I would be asked to handle him at the show, and I said that I could do this if asked.

The show was held in Nagano in a quaint little hot spring town. I loved the little ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) I stayed at with its little onsen (hot spring bath). The food was great too, and it was so fun milling around the area when we were not at the show grounds.

I ended up handling Taka at the last minute due to a communication fail on my part, and we ended up finishing last place. Dead last in class. He was not into it at all, and was just really uncomfortable in the ring. It was his first show in around 6 months, so that probably had something to do with it. Anyway, it was a learning experience for me as always, and I had a good talk about it later that night with some NIPPO judges/mentors.

After the show we dropped by a Shikoku kennel in Gunma that I'd been wanting to visit for a while, and it was another learning experience to see a different line of Shikoku than I am accustomed to. Anyway, here are some pictures from the show etc.

I think I'll break this up into a few posts, and put pictures of dogs up later since it would be overwhelming in one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Some Available Dogs

I don't post a lot of 'available dog' postings here, especially the ones that are of a more commercial nature. But here are a few that I have been asked to circulate, and all look very nice (I love Kai pups). They're all up on my export site.




Drop me an email if you're interested, and I'll give you the details.

I've also got this Shikoku male pup here, but I've already got a few offers for him. As always, I try to hook pups (especially rare ones like the Shikoku) up with the right homes, based on what people are looking for, bloodlines, etc.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I don't shower my dogs. Barring extreme circumstance, they are not showered. Baron has had 3 showers in his life, the third being last week when he found a pile of rotting fish that had been laid out as boar bait and thought it would be nice to rub in.

Here he is post shower, doing what Baron does best. He's not a fan of showers, but he tolerates it.

So why don't I shower my dogs? The Nihon Ken have a double coat, the inner coat helps regulate temperature, and the outer coat generally protects the outer coat. A dog naturally secretes oils that protect the coat, keeping it dry and stopping dirt from sticking to it. As you shampoo your dog, you are removing the oils and creating an imbalance in your dog's coat and on your dog's skin.

I won't trash you for showering your dog every week or few days, but the proof is in the pudding. People are always commenting how clean Baron looks, that he smells terrific, and how white his coat is. The next question is always, 'How often do you have to shower him?' I've carried this over to my Shikoku with the same results. They are clean, and they smell great.

The big test for me was when I added Akita to my kennel. Every time I've picked up Akita at the airport for export etc, they have that nasty doggy odor. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get away with my no shower policy, or how their coats would do. Some friends who are long time AKIHO members considered how often you shower all your dogs as a mark of a good caretaker/owner (they shower all the dogs once a week). My Akita's breeder told me not to dare show my pup 'like those NIPPO members', unshowered. Well, I keep the kennels clean, the dogs get a good brushing and damp toweling down, a lot of running through the mountains and rolling around in the grass, and they are clean and smell terrific. Even the Akita. Someone came to my kennel yesterday and said just that.

Anyway, here's another sunset shot for fun.

And a random shot I took at the drive thru... Japlish FTW

Monday, January 12, 2015

This Hunting Season

We haven't gotten out as much as I'd like, for various reasons. I've had a lot of work and other projects going on, and Baron got hurt as well. But, we have taken some boar.

For the sake of posterity I'm going to list what has happened so far this season.

We spent a few hours in the mountain one day with some visitors from Europe. A few days later my brother and I spent a few hours as well, and Baron caught a rabbit. That following weekend the weather was junk so I went with a friend of mine and shot a few ducks. The next day I went with the same buddy, a newbie hunter friend of his, and the high school son of a friend of mine (4 of us total). We got to the mountain around 11am, Baron and I went in from above while everyone else positioned on the escape routes. We were on boar in a few minutes, but though the other guns saw the boar, they didn't get any shots off.

Baron and I moved on, and he got on a herd. He was around 200 meters off, and I heard squealing as he grabbed a small boar. I ran to catch up, and got their just in time to watch a big boar charge him. He let go, and the herd ran downhill. We went after them slowly, and they seemed to have lost us. There's fields and a dirt track at the bottom of the mountain, then a stream with more mountain on the other side. We got to the road and as I chatted with an old farmer working the field (who had not noticed a herd of boar move within meters of him as they crossed the road), Baron moved into the stream. I realized something was up when he poked his head out to call me.

I followed him in, quietly, and saw him facing off with some boar. One charged forward, but no shot. Baron tried to grab him but was brushed off. After a little more cat and mouse in heavy brush, the boar moved off quickly. Baron was in hot pursuit, and I tried to follow, but no. I moved back to the road and went to cut them off. I got to a spot just in time to see a decent sized boar flying by with Baron in tow. I called him off, and we called it a morning.

In the afternoon one of the hunters walked with me. After around 20 minutes, Baron moved ahead quickly and grabbed a small boar. So, no ammo needed. It was just small enough to fit into my large backpack (it weighed 12kg) so I carried it while we moved forward. Baron got onto some more boar, but they moved quickly downhill to the left. My friend moved to cut them off, while I moved forward on the ridge. They crossed the stream and across the fields back into the mountain. I moved forward alone and across the ambush line the other hunter had set. I told them to stay put, and around 5 minutes later Baron picked up scent, moved into some bamboo, and grabbed another boar. This one was larger at @40kg.
I had enough time to attempt to get it on camera lol.

It was 2 in the afternoon, and a good time to head home. I had the newbie hunter and highschooler come to where I was, but there were absolutely no help carrying anything. It was faster to just carry everything myself. So, we got out of the mountain, 2 boar in tow, and then began the long process of butchering everything when I got home (along with walking all my dogs).

It was I think around a week later that Baron got injured near the house, so no more hunting for a bit other than the day that I took Goji and Akane out with my brother. There was another day that I grouped up with some other hunters for a group hunt at a dairy farm that asked for assistance to clear some problem boar off their property. As luck would have it the dogs chased the boar to my ambush and I popped off three shots. The boar rolled, and I flew downhill to grab it. Just as I reached out for the back leg, it took off. It didn't get far, as the dogs came a minute later, and found the boar laid up in underbrush around 20 meters away. It was a fun day, as it's a nice change of pace to hang out with a lot of hunters, and all the hard work of carrying and butchering gets spread out, but I was reminded that I prefer to solo hunt. It's much more challenging and rewarding (try splitting a boar between 15 people).

It took around 3 weeks for Baron to heal, but once the hole started closing, the healing process moved very quickly. Last week I took him out for a hunt, and he had so much crazy energy. He just drove off every boar we found by pushing them too hard, applying too much pressure. I got a few looks at some beautiful boar rumps. 2 days later we were out again for a few hours in the afternoon. We hunted a new mountain, and Baron was hunting much better. He was hunting close in, and being appropriately cautious. We ran into a couple deer early, then switched mountains to get on some boar just as it rolled around to 4pm. There's a nice spot that boar like to bed down in, and as we got to the edge of it Baron started tip toeing and looking back at me every few seconds. Sure enough a large herd was in there, and they started moving out quickly.

They moved downhill with Baron in tow, and I waited for a minute before deciding to follow. It can be a bad idea to go downhill after your dog too soon as if the boar run, you have less mobility than you would on the clearer high ground (and less visibility). I was happy I trusted Baron and followed since he had chased the whole herd into a ravine full of fallen bamboo. They were having trouble moving around, but I could hear them and see glimpses of them. I angled back and forth trying to get a shot, and Baron moved around a lot too, but it wasn't happening. The bamboo was too thick. At one point I crawled in and got to where I could hear the boar breathing. Baron was looking at the boar from my right, so I moved around to the left side to try to get a shot. I must have been within 3 meters of the boar, but the fallen bamboo was so thick I couldn't see it. Anyway, we played cat and mouse with the herd for an hour in there. Baron and I kept cutting them off when they tried to get out, but we couldn't get a shot, and Baron knew it was too dangerous to get stuck in there. He kept darting in and out.

Anyway, as it got dark we needed to get back to the car. Half the herd got out, Baron gave chase, I got stuck surrounded by boar who were much braver in the dark. There were three of them around me snorting, so I took to singing, which scared them away (I'm sure I don't sound that bad...). Baron came back, grabbed a straggler, and I carried it out. So we got a boar out of there...

We went out hunting again today and had a successful hunt, but I'll write about that later. I have a boar to butcher and it's getting late.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

We're Building a Treehouse

No rest for the wicked. 2nd of January and I was out starting work on a treehouse project for 3 days with children from Fukushima, the area affected by the tsunami and consequent nuclear reactor melt down. I try to help with volunteer projects when I'm able, and this one was a fun one since I planned to build a treehouse in my tree anyway.

No pictures of the kids since I'd need permission from their parents to post pics, but they were great, and we got the base done. With all my projects I try to use as much recycled lumber as possible, and so far for this project we've used 100% recycle. The big logs are old telephone poles, and the cross beams are out of an old house that was being torn down. Even the 24mm plywood on top is recycle from a motor show in Tokyo. The log we cut in half for the stairs was one my friend Mark found on the beach a while back, and the steps were out of fallen timber we found while hunting one day.

The kids will be back in March to help again, and we'll put up the walls and roof then, plus a slide.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hunting With Goji and Akane

Since Baron's out of action, the girls got their first real hunting outing. I showed them a boar a while ago, the first boar that Baron and I took this year. It was a small one, so perfect to start them off on.

They did pretty well, and showed some interest. Tugging and playing with the carcass. I had a chance to show Goji and Chacha (Taka's sister, 2 years old) some trapped boar a while back too. Chacha was having none if it, and was bothered by the gunfire. Goji wasn't very interested, but wasn't bothered by the shots. She did get a bit carsick though.

Anyway, the other day the girls got to stretch their legs. I walk them off leash all the time, so they're very good about sticking close. They had fun running, and started learning to climb the mountains. It's usually a bit of a laugh watching dogs their first few times out getting used to pushing through underbrush, and over/under obstacles. They're usually pretty clumsy about it.

I took them to some mountains in Kamogawa where there are not that many boar, but a lot of deer and muntjac. I like to start the dogs off in areas with a lot of scents, and that are not too dangerous. These mountains are fairly steep but clear, so the dogs and I have a good field of vision. I saw a few muntjac, but the pups never picked up on them. All in all though it was a fun day out with my brother and the pups. The weather was warm, the mountains beautiful, and we got some good exercise. Goji's carsickness is much better, but Akane was horrible.

Winter is Here

It doesn't snow more than a few times a year here on the Boso peninsula. We've got ocean on both sides, and the warm currents keep the temps pretty mild. But wouldn't you know it, January 1st comes along and we get a mini blizzard.

I lit up the fire, toasted my toes, and reveled in the beauty of the snow falling all around the cabin. The silence was perfect. I willed myself to run out of the house for a few seconds to capture the moment.