Sunday, July 19, 2015

So, "What About Griffin", You Ask

I think we've gotten the Griffin question sorted out. I want to thank everyone who was kind enough to answer my emails:
Hokkaido Association of North America, also known as HANA, or "The HANA Project",
Sue Myles (A.K.A. "Auntie Sue"), the trainer who worked with me and Suzu and Koda when they first came into my life,
Kishu Ken-Nel, a site devoted to the oldest breed in Japan,
and his first owner, Pam.
I found an excellent reference source on all Nihon-ken (Japanese dogs) at Japan Dog Export, via Shigeru Kato.
Here are the email threads, in chronological order, more or less. I put some of the emails together, so the threads would be more sensible than if they were left in strict chronological order.

This email is the start of the whole thing:
Just before last Christmas, I adopted Griffin, who was advertised as a Shiba Inu. He is white, with red ear points, and a tinge of red on his back and in his tail.  He is also significantly larger than the other male I owned, who weighed in at about 26 pounds. When I took Grif in for his shots, he weighed in at 40#.  While he is reserved, he is less so that what I am used to in Shibas. He actually has a habit of coming when called, which is not the behavior of the Shibas I've known (unless it involved food).
I'm just wondering if there is any way for me to resolve this interesting puzzle? My current best guess is that he is either a) a largish Shiba Inu, or b) a slightly smallish Hokkaido.
Thanks, Lee Webber
Sue was the first responder:
What about a Kishu Ken?
Wow. This is sure interesting. He is not a Shiba or at least not like any I have ever seen.
He isn't an Akita Inu or a Tosa Inu (which is good)
Very very interesting. I bet there is a Japanese dog dog show judge that would be interested in this.
how nice to hear from the town that has no Starbucks
I wrote back:
Heh.  The "no Starbucks" came out when I was describing this town to a friend who's not from these parts. I'm damned sure he's not Shiba Inu.  And I never would have suspected unless I'd gotten bored this morning and went looking for books.  Yay random browsing.
I've got an e-mail into NAHA (North American Hokkaido A'ss'n) asking for some advice.  If he is Hokkaido-Ken, he's extremely rare outside of Japan (I gather).
I've read of "Cream" Shibas, which aren't recognized by the AKC (their loss!)  But size and temperament have pushed to the Ainu camp. He's ~= 18" at his shoulder (I measured), so... . I'll look up the other breeds just for grins.
And, keep you posted.
Enjoying the newsletter, by the way! Thanks!!
Then, a second thought:

But then, how did he wind up in the US??

The on "on alert" here is Grif's twin.
And a third thought:
The previous question was really affirmative.  Sent a note off to the folks. Maybe they can suggest resources up this-a-way.

To which Sure replied:

Few people would be more obsessive than this group.

And the a thought or two to the original addressees:
Had an e-mail conversation w/ Auntie Sue (Suzu & Koda's trainer), and she's not sure about Hokkaido. Further investigation makes me think Kishu-ken:

Kishu Ken-Nel

Japan Dog


If he is Kishu or Hokkaido, I find it sad that he's been neutered.  They are rare breeds, and it would have been wonderful to bred him.
And, to the original addressees:
I'm sending this on to you all, because, as my day has progressed, this has gotten interestinger and interestinger!  The web post has the bulk of it, but not all of the links.

Enjoy the story!
Then I sent this off to the folks who were involved in getting me connected to Grif:

I just wanted to bring you all up to date on Griffin.  He doing quite well, and has fit in wonderfully. He likes to sleep by my bed for part of the night, but will *not* get up one it, not stay on it if I put him up there. I have finally been able to get him all current on his shots, and have had him chipped.

The main reason I'm writing is the new mystery that surrounds him. I was surprised that he weighed in at 40 pounds when he got his shots. That is *way* over the norm for a Shiba Inu. He's also a couple of inches outside of the normal height range for Shibas.  His size, color and general behavior contra-indicate his being a Shiba. I'm going to refer you to a blog post I put up today for the long story, but the short version is that my research on Japanese breeds, and a discussion with my dog trainer friend, lead me to believe that Grif is not a Shiba, but a Kishu!

He is a wonderful addition to my household, and regardless of breed. I couldn't love him more!

I got this back from the adoption rep I worked with:
Thanks for the great update on Griffin. So happy he is so loved, no matter what he is, LOL. Very interesting article. Thanks again for keeping in contact and letting us all know things are well.
 Then I received this from the Kishu-ken group in Texas:
Hello Lee......thanks for visiting the website.  Where did you get Griff?  At first look he appears to be a large Shiba.....he is actually small for a male Kishu Ken which usually are closer to 50 lbs and 20 + inches.  That's not to say there couldn't be a small Kishu.
And the Kishu Ken is so rare in the U. S. it is hard to believe one would be in a "rescue" situation.

I cannot help but wonder if he could possibly be a white Jindo......Google "Jindo Dog" and look at the white ones.  He could also be a mix of Shiba or Akita with some other "spitz" breed that gives him that look.

He is certainly beautiful, whatever he is.  You may never know for sure what he is, but he looks like a great dog and that's what matters.


Carleen Newman
Kishu Ken-nel
Sue had a thing to two to say about that:
Hi Lee

jindo? hmmm.....since he seems to be such a nice dog.......that does not strike me as the right guess.
There are quite a few jindos here in OC due to the Koreans, mostly up in the Fullerton and La habra area. The ones that I have known I would not get close to. I just stood in the house and looked at the dog in the back yard. matter what his official breed this is a lucky dog to have you. And to know that he is such a sweet guy and can revel in his aged years.
but this is an interesting journey to find out
I sent another email to Carleen:
Hi, Carleen!
Thanks for getting back to me about Grif! I got him just before Christmas last year, from a family the was splitting up and moving out of their house, and no one could have dogs where they were going. He had been neutered, but had not had his shots or been chipped. He had a bald patch down this right side, from mid back to his hip, from scraping himself on the bottom of the fence as he was getting out.

From what little I've read about Jindos, I doubt Griff is one - he'd not overly dominant, and seems to take to strangers quite well. But, I don't know if that's training, age, or temperament. He also looks "broader" than most of the Jindos I saw pictured. He has rib cage that is slightly wider than his shoulders. (See attached pic.) He does have some "Nihon-ken red" on his ears and tail. It is also notable on his back in the right light, but I don't think it matched the description of Jindo coloration. The info I found here:  is what leads me to think is is Kishu-ken.  Which, as you say,  raises the question of where he came from. 

This is what I posted when I got him home:

This a fun and interesting puzzle, and even if I don't get it resolved, it will not affect how I feel about him.  He's just a great dog.

Thanks again, Lee
...who responded
The new pictures show Griff better.....he does have a Kishu "look" about him......but he is smaller than most.  No one in the family that had him knew anything about him?  What did they say he was?.......or did they.

The Kishu Ken does have "apricot" ears tips sometimes and "apricot" down the back occasionally.

The Jindo has similar coloration.......and temperament-wise the Jindo is not always dominant and aggressive or aloof....they sometimes get a bad rap that way.  I have had both breeds and actually they are very similar.

As you say....he's a great companion and you may never know.  Good luck with him.

The last inbound emails I received were from the Hikkaido-ken organization:

you out look like you have a larger Shiba Inu. He looks all Shiba to me, and it isn't uncommon for the Shibas from pet stores/mill lines to be larger than average. He's a lucky puppy to be adopted!
...and from Grif's previous owner:
Aw, I'm so so glad  to hear that all is well with you and Grif. He was sold to us as a pure bred Shiba, but that place later was known as very shady.
Thank you so much for sharing and keeping me in the loop!!! Best Wishes to you and your 4 legged family
So, today, I started closing the loop:
Hi, Sue,

Just following up on the Griffin question.  I got an email from a Hokkaido breeder I pinged. His take is that Grif is most probably a Shiba, but from a puppy mill that wasn't too worried about conformance standards.  Thus, his size is not (apparently) unusual. Cream is a non-standard color, so, I think I'm at "Grif is just a big Shiba".
Cheers! Lee
...which led to this post!

And Griffin still doesn't care! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

More House (Garden, Not So Much)!

OK.  I know it's been almost  two weeks since I last posted about the house.  I have been busy.

First, I've installed two ceiling fans in the living/dining area. It's 80 outside, I just came back from getting lunch, and the downstairs is comfortably cool.  Without the A/C.


Installed and working!
Aaaand, the kitchen sink:

This started out with a friendly notice from the boro that my water usage was higehr than usual.  The hot tap was leaking, enough so the the faucet was hot to the touch.  So, off I go to get a new faucet set.  When I got home and crawled underneath, I saw things I did not want to see - a tangle of water lines, set screws, and what looked like solder.  Command decision - remove the old sink in toto, and replace w/ new.

I won't bore you with the tale of the sturm und drang needed to remove the add-in shelf so I could get the drain connected, required by the offset drain configuration. Nor will I talk about the holes drilled in said shelf so that the water supply pipes could be run thru them and then soldered together.  I mean, who would ever want to replace a sink or need to move anything, right?

In happier news, those are tomatoes from the garden.

The last major thing is getting the new room finished. "Finished" is still a ways off, but progress abounds! I've painted the ceiling and three walls, scraped the windows, and taped them off so I can start painting them.

The almost-but-not-quite-corner. This shot does give you a good sense of what "Modern Grey" looks like
This is a test. I'm painting the inner part of the frame Modern Grey, the rest of the frame and sill white. If I like it, I'll do all three the same.  If not, plain white.

One window, taped for painting.  I wound up putting filler along the left side, between the wall and frame. Sand tomorrow, then wipe down and paint!

Benny came in to inspect. Notice that the debris is gone!
And, in the midst of all this, we have a new resident. She showed up on the neighbor's porch Sunday evening before last.  I thought she was a kitten, but when I took her to the vet, they wanded her and found out that she has been chipped, her name is Ramen, and she's 12!

I haven't heard from the owner, but I did talk to the alternate contact, who seemed put out by the whole experience. So, it's looking like me, three dogs, and three cats.

Behold, Ramen:

(She can be shy at first...)

Ramen T. Cat
Her right ear is 'cocked' to almost horizontal, due to a large mass at the base of the ear. It looks like it had been treated, or at least biopsied, because there is a shaved spot, and a nicely-healing cruciform wound.

She's a little bitty thing, weighing in at only 5 lbs. And I think she has Nadia on the run.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Griffin May Be A Ringer! Updated!)

SO, Grif is just below the Hokkaido size range. Auntie Sue, my dog trainer friend, agreed he is not Shiba.  Further research at makes me wonder:


If he is, how did he wind up in the US??

KishuKen-nel has more information on the breed.  Again, one picture in particular, the on "on alert" dog, is a double for Griffin.

Correspondence is in order to them, too.

Shhhh!  Griffin doesn't care.
I was feeling a tad under the weather this morning, and also had a book to get mailed for the PaperBack Swap club. (A good deal if you want to get new books to read without the new book price! Just pay for shipping when you send a book out to another member!) About all I felt like doing was browsing books.  I wound up getting a book on cats, and two about American Eskimo dogs. (I thought I'd like to know a bit more about Benny.)

I started poking around a bit in the Shiba Inu part of the collection. I've found that, while the club may have a book listed. it may or may not be available (they have an Amazon link for every book); and it may not have a description. I've gotten in the habit of clicking the Amazon link, and reading the book description there. I found this one: Shiba Inu (Comprehensive Owner's Guide) Hardcover – February 1, 2005   by Andrew DePrisco. I started browsing the contents, and read the bit on Shiba coloration. He recites the AKC standard - red, sesamie, and black and tan.  He also mentions the English Kennel Club's standard, which comprises "red, black, black and tan or brindle. White, with red or grey tinge."

The latter  - white with the red tinge, fits Griffin to a tee. But, Griffin is significantly outside the normal size range for a male Shiba. That standard is somewhere around 25 pounds. When Grif had his shots last week, he weighed in at 40.  He's also a bit taller at the shoulder, pushing 18". Finally, and most telling (to me) is his willingness to come when called. Neither Suzu nor Dakota have/were ever so willing to come, unless they were absolutely sure food was involved.

What set me off on this new tangent was the picture and caption in the corner of the page:

(Screen cap from Amazon's book preview)
The handsome Hokkaido-Ken there looks quite like Grif!  So, off I went to look up Hokkaido-Kens. I found several sites of interest. The first is the Hokkaido-Ken Information Website, which has a page of wonderful pictures! PetMD gave me size ranges,  weight of 45 - 65 pounds, and height of 18" - 22".  Their picture of Kenta could pass for a picture of Grif:

(Kenta, from PetMD)

My current working theory is that Grif is either a) a smallish Hokkaido, or b) a largish Shiba. I'm going to contact the Hokkaido Association of North America (HANA) and see what they might suggest to resolve this particular question.

Hokkaido or Shiba, I couldn't love Griffin any more.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Friday Garden (w/ a Visitor!), and House!

It's been a busy week here - Getting the screen door rebuilt, painting the new bedroom, and getting the new coating on the roof. I've also met a new visitor to the garden, and finally managed a picture or two!

OK... screen door:

First time I've had the table saw out since I moved back here! I'm ripping a 2X4 down to 5/4" to fit the slot where the old door post lived

The 5/4" slot, with a bit of siding trimming going on.

This is where it stands as of now. It latches, so I can keep the kitchen door open and not lose and dogs or cats!


The continuing showers have encouraged the garden to go bee-zerk:

Peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes.

More tomatoes and peppers.

Yet more tomatoes, and melons.
New Thai Hots!
First tomato!
The onions and garlic are getting sturdy.
More green tomatoes.

Cantaloupe blossoms.

Mostly oregano and basil.

Anaheim peppers.
Our visitor! He's (?) keeping an eye on me as I take his picture and move from the car to the stairs.  I doubt he's as big as a softball. First wabbit I've seen here. I call him "Bun-bun", Doc thinks of him as "Thumper". Pete Abrams vs Walt Disney, I guess.

The container is only about an inch higher than the soil in it, so it gives you a sense of how tiny he really is!

I watch for him when I bring the dogs back for a walk. Grif has only spotted him once out of four times that I have. When he did, he lit up, but didn't strain the leash. He does seem to be a bit more interested in poking around the garden, though.

I've decided that I need better pix of the painting and roof coating, so more, later!