WHY WE ALL NEED JUST ONE HACHIKO?
“I will follow you, protect you, love you till my last breath. I am the Akita. “
-from the movie “Hachiko Monogatari”
I cried like a baby with the both movies about Akita dogs. The newest version “Hachi:A dog’s tale” from 2009, with Richard Gere is just a remake of Japanese movie created in 1987, known as “Hachiko Monogatari”. The tale about never ending love and loyalty of Akita dog is portrayed in both movies, but also has been decorated with local national folklore and emotions. My tears have followed the Japanese and American story with the same passionate pain, I felt sadness of both Akitas and I decided that one day, I will have the Akita.
Being cat person with the dream about having one dog is almost like a betrayal for a powerful cat’s world but I know that my cats would forgive me. They would be happy to share my attention, care and love with one Akita dog. How is that possible ? Because, this is not just a dog, this is the Akita dog. The most beloved Japanese of our paw times, the synonym of faithful, loyal and permanent love, the attributes that human have forgotten long time ago and have never found again. Still, with this dog, we have a chance to learn from the beginning and to accept the fact that it is never too late to lose yourself for a love that never dies.
What we know about this breed? The Akita is a large and powerful dog with very elegant look and intelligent behaviour. According to dog experts, this breed shows all elements of dominant and active presence in their pack, among family members:” He was originally used for guarding royalty and nobility in feudal Japan. The Akita also tracked and hunted wild boar, black bear, and sometimes deer. He is a fearless and loyal guardian of his family. The Akita does not back down from challenges and does not frighten easily. Yet he is also an affectionate, respectful, and amusing dog when properly trained and socialized.The mere presence of a powerful Akita serves as a deterrent to most who would cause trouble. This breed is renowned for unwavering loyalty to his owners, and he can be surprisingly sweet and affectionate with family members. Imagine a loving protector who will follow you from room to room, whose entire mission in life seems to be simply to serve you. The Akita is courageous, a natural guardian of his family. Stubborn and willful, he won’t back down from a challenge. He doesn’t usually bark unless there is a good reason, but he is vocal, making amusing grunts, moans, and mumbles. “
This dog is not a puppy forever, children’s toy or solution for boring afternoons. This fog belongs to working dogs and has a maximum training capacity which is sometimes a big challenge to the rules of socialization and obedience. The Akita does accept the boss but without force or aggression. This dog allows himself to feel who is a right alpha and then he follows him, without confronting his new alpha. Choosing this dog as a pet dog, without having time and energy to work on his personality is like a ticket to the hell. This breed must be trained since the first moment, without wasting time on attempts to turn Akita into the lapdog. The Japanese prince on 4 paws is a loyal, faithful, loving and intelligent but he will never accept the rules without showing his bold nature and highly intelligent perceptive character. There were people that have complained that Akita dog could b destructive, aggressive and unpredictable. That is all true but it is triggered by the behaviour pattern of the owner. If the owner is limited with his free time, oriented towards short-time fun with pet and closed for learning from and with his dog, the destiny of Akita will be dark. I guess this applies on many of working dogs since they need their boss all the time, or at least they need him most of the time. They are not capable to live fake life but the pack life, with all good and bad sides of it.
We cant get the Akita dog and simply let him alone in garden or pretending he will be all right alone at home. He wont be and he will definitely show his stress that will cause our stress and bad vibrations. The Akita needs a presence of his owner and not an absence. This dog is focused on his family members and his love grows every day but he is also a very demanding sometimes. That is why this dog is not a recommendation for first-dog owners, those with weak character and annoying small children and those who live for their jobs. One Akita needs time and that time should be precious, without limitations and artificial feelings that this dog can be busy with himself because he actually cant.
The male Akita stands between 26 and 28 inches and weighs about 110 pounds (50 kilograms) while the female is up to 26 inches with weight about 80 pounds (36 kilograms). They have large head, small eyes and erect ears, that all give the specific form and expression of this dog. His coat is dense and tick but not so long and there are two types of this dogs: American and Japanese Akita, depending on the color of the face and size of the body.
It is very interesting that this dog has originated in Japan, where he was described as tender in heart and strong in strength. The name comes from the Prefecture of Akita, in northern Japan where has been the first matching of chow chows with Japanese Kari and Tosa dogs and resulted with Akita dogs. Many years later, the Akita has been involved as an official police dog in Japan and the inspirational and great companion in private life of many Japanese people. Usually, when young parents get a child, they get a small statue of Akita as a symbol of protection for their new member. It doesn’t surprise that this dog has been declared from the government of Japan, back in 1931, as a one of the Japan’s national treasures.
Famous Helen Keller was the first person to bring the Akita to the United States, after visit to Japan in 1937. Her puppy named Kamikaze-Go has inspired the new wave of Akita adoration in America and since then, the Akita dog is worldwide beloved and accepted. This dog, if he is properly trained and socialized, can enjoy the family life and friendship with other animals but he is not a big friend of other dogs, unless it is Akita pair. He is territorial and possessive with the strong protective instinct and dominant figure. Some owners have mentioned that this dog is almost clean as a cat and that is simply born to be in apartment but they forget to remind that this dog needs constant and active training as the channel of releasing out the accumulated energy and negative vibes.
Hachiko is a wonderful dog but not for everyone or not even for someone whose heart is not designed for Hachiko’s love. This Japanese dog is a symbol of protection, faithful and eternal love that colors our life with meaning. It is not just a pet or just a dog. It is a Hachiko, the Akita dog, the eternity itself.
3 thoughts on “THE AKITA: JAPANESE LOVE FOR A WHOLE LIFE”
Sarah’s endearing and enlightening article reminded me of my many years in The Nipponese Archipelago and the various Akita canines I came into contact with, in my neighbourhood, etc. They were deeply loved by the children and elderly, in particular.
The Chinese characters of the appellation reference a topographical expression: 秋 = aki (autumn) + 田 = ta (field); literally, ‘Rice field [harvest period]’. The Chinese character of 犬 = inu (dog). Thus, 秋 田 犬 (Akita-inu = Dog of Akita province).
Akita (which had different names) remained largely-isolated from central Nipponese society until after c. 600 CE. Akita was a region of hunter-gatherers and nomadic tribes. In 1871, during The Meiji Restoration, the province was reshaped and the old daimyō domains were abolished and administratively-reconstructed; resulting in the modern-day borders of Akita.
I knew several elderly-Nipponese people during my years in the archipelago, and they informed me of the status of the Akita dog during World War II: according to their recollections, the war pushed the Akita dog to the brink of extinction. Early in the war, the dogs had a lack of nutritious food. Then, many were killed to be eaten by the starving populace, and their pelts were used as clothing. Finally, the central government ordered all remaining dogs to be killed on sight, to prevent the spread of disease.
The only way concerned owners could save their beloved Akita dogs was to turn them loose in remote mountain areas, where they bred back with their ancestor dogs, the Matagi, or conceal them from authorities by means of crossing with German Shepherds, and naming them in the style of German Shepherds of the time.
During the US-military occupation years following 1945, the Akita dog began to thrive again through the efforts of passionate dog owners. For the first time, Akita dogs were bred for a standardised appearance.
Akita fanciers in Tokyo began gathering and exhibiting the remaining Akita dogs and producing litters, in order to restore the breed to sustainable numbers and to accentuate the original characteristics of the breed muddied by crosses to other breeds.
Many US-military personnel fell in love with the Akita dog, and took quite a few back with them to The United States of America, upon demobilisation.
What a delightful article, Sarah !
You have depicted the Akita dog as a very loving and affectionate dog, which has definitely struck a chord with me, as I am an avid animal lover, and a very loving and affectionate person !
I totally concur with you, Sarah, in that the owner of the Akita has to both have some free time and be willing to spend that free time with his/her Akita ! In fact, in my opinion, this applies to all pets ! We should be happy to spend time with them, and to give them all the love and affection we can !
In my eyes, pets are family members ! I’ve never thought of them as any less ! In fact, they are part of us !
Thank you for this lovely and heartwarming article, Sarah ! Excellent writing as always !
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