Thursday, 20 September 2012

Doing what comes naturally?

     When we first discovered we had a Shiba Inu x, we were aware that Shiba Inus were originally bred for hunting and possibly for small animals.

This morning sweet, obedient, loving Bella....

...... confirmed her ancient breeding DNA.     WHO? ME?!

On her early morning walk, as the sun was trying to navigate the maze of clouds on this cool autumn morning; as the birds were waking their families with sweet songs wafting across the tall swaying trees; as the bunnies were stretching their legs and collecting breakfast in the recently harvested field ….  one little bunny didn’t look right or left and ran just metres in front of …. BELLA!

Bella on the other hand had been awake for at least an hour, had been walking (always on the lead) for about 20 minutes and was most certainly not asleep when BUNNY appeared in front of her! She pounced and Bunny didn’t stand a chance L.  Poor little Bunny needed to be extracted from her attackers mouth, not once but twice! 

Needless to say the walk ended and she was marched back to barracks.

The whole incident made me look again at the characteristics of the Shiba Inu, even if she’s a cross-breed and once again it all painted Bella just perfectly!

First, a refresher course from Wikipedia:
"The Shiba Inu was originally bred for hunting." Yep, knew that!
"It is one of the few ancient dog breeds still in existence in the world today." Yep remember reading that!

"The breed also interacts fairly well with cats." What?! Please define ‘interact’! Please define ‘cats’!

"A spirited boldness, (Oh Yes! As Churchill would say!) a good nature, (absolutely!) and an unaffected forthrightness, (interesting description) which together yield dignity and natural beauty. (Oh yes! Dignity and Beauty!) The Shiba has an independent nature (agree) and can be reserved toward strangers (our friends can witness to that) but is loyal and affectionate to those who earn his respect. (Ahhhh! That’s us!) They can be aggressive toward other dogs." (Well, not sure about that. It looks aggressive but it’s proven … so far … to be playfulness!)

"The terms "spirited boldness" (悍威 kan'i?), (remember this is a Japanese breed)  "good nature" (良性 ryōsei?), and "artlessness" (素朴 soboku?) have subtle interpretations that have been the subject of much commentary." (key word here is – Subtle!)

"Recent DNA analysis confirms that this Asian spitz-type dog is one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back to the 3rd century BC.  Originally, the Shiba Inu was bred to hunt and flush small game, such as birds and rabbits." (That is, little Bunnies who don’t look right and left    :(    

Second, the ‘professional’ opinion!

"Temperament:  The Shiba is alert, (Yes, usually) confident, (yes) courageous, (yep!) and bold. (Oh yes!)  Loving, kind, trainable and brave. (All these things!) They are clean and most try to avoid puddles and are relatively easy to housebreak." (Initially she avoided puddles, but now walks through them if there’s no other way, but would prefer that I walk through them and she walks on the narrow dry strip around them!)  


"They bark little (yay!) and bond closely with their handler. (She loves us!)  
Playful and delightful, (makes us smile!) a well-adjusted Shiba is good with kids, (maybe once she’s got over the reserve part of her)  other dogs (plays delightfully with CJ!)  and cats." (Seriously, I’m sure they’ve got his bit wrong!)


"Active, lively, agile and fast. (Definitely, especially the agile and fast bit!) Socialize this breed well as a puppy, as they can be reserved with strangers." (It’s taken our friends almost a year of coming into our home once a week before she’d sit next to them for a rub!)  

"If the Shiba is not completely convinced that its handler can handle the pack leader position and regards himself as stronger minded they will become a bit stubborn as they will believe they need to make up their own rules." (Mum Discipline needed!)

"Proper human to canine communication is essential. A natural hunting dog, the Shiba should not be trusted alone with small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rodents and small birds. (and CATS!)  Be careful when taking them off leash as they like to chase, (don’t let them off the leash!) especially if they do not regard their owners as a strong pack leader. Adapts well to travelling. (Not a problem to take on holiday! Bella settles down on the back seat quite happily! Doesn’t slobber over necks or even the window!) Make sure you are this dog's firm, confident, consistent leader, providing daily pack walks to avoid behaviour issues." (Lots and lots and lots of patience and perserverance needed!)

"Living Conditions:  The Shiba….  is moderately active indoors (when she goes manic, she goes totally manic, but never knocks anything over and all you hear is the scrabbling on the carpet and the plastic carpet protector!)  and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. (that she can’t escape from. Preferably with 20foot high concrete non-climbable walls!)
The Shiba's waterproof, all-weather coat protects it in both cold and hot conditions, so it can live outdoors if you have a secure yard of reasonable size. (That’s one thing we noted last winter, that she seemed to be totally happy lying relaxed on the grass when the temperatures were just above freezing!)  However, it does regard itself as part of the family and does not like to be left alone outside. (Maybe that’s why, when we do let her out in the garden and I keep an eye on her from my upstairs office window, I keep catching her looking up at the window!)  This breed would be much happier living indoors with its family." (Nice to know we’re not depriving her!)

"Exercise:  The Shiba Inu is an undemanding dog that will adapt to your circumstances, so long as it gets a daily walk. (I suppose this is right. She is content to wait until we are ready to take her out for a walk, although she does make it clear, or at least her ears make it clear, that she needs a wee… NOW!)  It is a very active dog and will be healthier and happier with regular exercise. (She loves her walks and sometimes gets a bit stroppy when we turn around to go home before she’s ready!) This breed can walk for hours on end as it has tremendous endurance." (She might, but I don’t!)

"Some of the Shiba's talents include: hunting, (as proven recently with bunnies, and anything else that rustles along the path) tracking, (definitely not going to let her go to prove or disprove this!) watchdog, (fortunately not had the opportunity to see this but hope it’s true!) guarding, (she’s obedient and stays, so that might count)  agility (that’s something I’ve thought of pursuing, but am wary as to whether she’ll do a runner!) and performing tricks." (now what other tricks can we teach her?!)

Third : these quotes from one of the first websites  / blogs we looked at:

The Shiba Inu is a beautiful Spitz dog. You will get many compliments and turn many heads while walking next to a Shiba.

The Good……

1. A Shiba Inu is a dog that is more like a cat (I think the writer was referring more to the grooming habits than to the climbing over fences!)

2. He naturally dislikes soiling his living space and even prefers not to go in our backyard. (Useful, less landmines to pick up!)

3.  Shiba Inus like having their humans around in the general vicinity. (So sweet! Bella sometimes gives a little cry when it’s all quiet downstairs and she knows we’re upstairs in our offices! And I admit to leaving the radio on to give her company; she’ll go and sleep in another room if it gets too much for her!)  However, they are aloof like cats, and do not need or want human affection much of the time. (We are not offended when she walks out while we’re watching TV, but we do call her back to watch The Dog Whisperer – she loves it!)

4.  A Shiba Inu is not a noisy dog. However, when there are strange people or strange noises around the house he will bark to alert you. (Like when the neighbour’s dog barks at 11pm every night!)

5. A Shiba Inu is graceful and agile. (Ha ha! Agile in this case is not a recommendation!)
He can leap tall fences in a single bound and can scale walls like Spiderman. (Oh Yes! Why didn’t I think of the Spiderman word!) If properly directed, his super powers can be used for good. (Like how!?) However, when left on his own, the Shiba will likely turn towards the Dark Side. (Oh Yes!!)

6. A Shiba running is a sight to behold and a Shiba at play is poetry in motion. (Running, I totally agree – but it’s not something I want to see again, ‘cos it means she’s off leash and won’t come back! Play, like any dog or cat is fun and stress-busting to watch!)

7. A Shiba Inu is a doggy Einstein!  A Shiba Inu can learn many dog obedience commands and he can learn them very quickly. (Very quickly!) He also thinks that he is much smarter than you, and will only obey you when it suits him. (Like the “I’m sitting on the outside but I’m chasing that rabbit on the inside!”)

8. A Shiba Inu may be small in body, but he has a ginormous personality. If a Shiba were a person, he would either be an extremely successful egomaniac or in prison! (Now that’s a good one!)

The Bad…….

1. A Shiba Inu is bold, strong willed, and stubborn. (Sounds like some children!)

2.  He has a “Never give up, Never surrender” attitude. (I wonder how many Shibas are called Churchill!)

3.  To successfully live with a Shiba Inu, you must be extremely patient and have a good sense of humor. (ha-ha-ha!)

4.  A Shiba Inu has a sly, rougish intelligence. A Shiba Inu is super intelligent.

5.  “In another life my Shiba was probably a Catholic priest. He can guilt me into doing almost anything for him.” !!!

6. Beware the Shiba look – it is one of his most powerful weapons and he will use it to great effect if he senses any weakness in you. Before you know it, your Shiba will have gotten you trained to fetch, stay, and rub tummy. (hee-hee! Ahh isn’t she cute! Oops! Fell for it!)
7. A Shiba Inu is like the evil, black Spiderman. He is capable of great feats of agility but if untrained, he will use it to destroy and cause great havoc in the household. (Bella’s not done too badly since chewing the Sky TV cable, the fish pond hose, and various garden ornaments! She’s even stopped un-stuffing her bed regularly!) If bored and lonely, he will escape by jumping over or burrowing under your fence. (Oh Yes! Wally next door can concur with that! And neither of us can find where she’s got through!)  He can squeeze through small holes, (could the Staffie genes in her perhaps be responsible for this not happening? Or does it happen?!)  bite through leashes, (No! you don’t think she chewed her lead so it would deliberately break on a lead do you? Ahh, just look at that face! No way!)  and achieve amazing great escapes that will make Houdini proud. (proven a good many times – and how she escaped more injury during her 10 hour AWOL, considering the scratches she came back with, no-one knows!)

8. Shiba Inus are extremely sensitive to the energy of the people and dogs around them. If I am scared or stressed out, he picks up on that immediately and gets that way too – except with a thousand times more gusto! Remember that he can sense your inner energy, not just your outward appearance. (The Dog Whisperer’s mantra exactly! Take note, again and again!)
9. A Shiba Inu knows he is dog royalty:  He wants his subjects close enough to serve him but not too close as to sully his royal person.

10. A Shiba Inu can be a good citizen at home, but he must be properly managed. (Always the model dog at home, no-one believes us when we say how awkward she is on a walk!) Shibas are strong willed, independent, and bred to hunt. Aversive training does not work well on them. Shiba owners need to be creative and flexible when interacting with their dog. (Maybe we need to read the parenting books for hyperactive children!)

11. A Shiba Inu is not to be trusted off-leash unless in a fully enclosed area. (Never underestimate this statement!) Shiba Inus are a primitive breed and they lose control more easily than other more domesticated dog breeds. (Lose control? She just thinks she’s Always in control!)

The Quirky

A Shiba Inu is a grass connoisseur:  He likes grazing, but he is picky about what grass he will eat. Dogs may sometimes graze when their stomachs are upset to clear their digestive systems, but a Shiba Inu just enjoys eating grass – if it is the right kind of grass. (So now we’re not sure if a Shiba Inu is in fact a dog, or a cat, or maybe even a sheep, or cow….)

So there we are! Bella fits her breed quite well, which is unfortunate in some ways!  However, she is still beautiful, loved, and obedient (when she wants to be ... which is increasing day by day!)

Except when she does what comes naturally and Kills Baby Rabbits  :( 

(Glad she thought the hedgehog on the path was a little more than she could chew!)

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