It all began with an American Akita named Gryphon who joined our family in 2008. Gryphon is a joy to have in our home and we are amazed every day at how lucky we are to have found such a sweet and wonderful dog. The saying is true – if it’s not an Akita, its just a dog!
It wasn’t long before we decided to get a companion for Gryphon. For our second dog, I had my heart set on a Japanese Akita. It was easier said than done. After months of research, networking, calling rescues, and sitting on waiting lists for a puppy I grew frustrated. We talked it over and decided to import a puppy from Japan. It was a lengthy, costly, and exhausting effort but well worth it. In August of 2010 we received an offer letter from Shirai Kensha for an exceptional red bitch. Overjoyed, we accepted and named her Gojira.
We didn’t stop there; my husband and I decided to do our part to preserve and promote the Japanese Akita in the United States. We wanted to share our success by helping others in the same position we were in. If we were able to help just a few people have a Japanese Akita of their own without going through all the heartache and hassle we went through, it would be worth it. Thus, we founded our kennel and began thinking about our breeding program.
Not one to ever do something half way, I poured myself into research on Akita and other Japanese dogs, genetics, breeding, puppy development, temperament – anything and everything I could get my hands on. I discovered that Gojira had been linebred off of a couple different dogs and why. I began doing more extensive research into her pedigree and the other progeny of her ancestors. I was surprised and pleased with what I discovered. Almost by accident, it seemed that I had a high quality brood bitch already in my kennel. As we started showing her and she started winning in the ring, my beliefs were confirmed.
Much of the advice for new breeders revolves around having the highest quality bitches you can afford and relying on someone else to provide the males. While this probably works well for established breeds and certainly is a good way to save money, I felt that there were not enough suitable males already in the United States to breed to. So my hunt for a second import began, this time specifically looking for a male of a new bloodline which had no representation in our country.
By then I had some contacts with breeders in Japan, so we were able to import King Ghidora from Miyagi Kozaki Kensha with relative ease. He was the very first of the Kozaki lines to come to the United States. We happened to make friends with Tae Kyun Kim along the way, who imported Ghidora’s niece, and he has become a great ally and friend.
We started thinking towards our future and what signature type we wanted to be represented by the dogs born at our kennel. I love the structure and build of Kozaki dogs and the facial expression and ears of Shirai dogs and I hope to marry the two together. To that end, we decided to import another female from Kozaki and breed Gojira with a domestic Shirai dog to acquire more of those two bloodlines.
Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. After breeding her for the first time, Gojira contracted an infection of the uterus called pyometra. Pyo can be deadly if not caught and dealt with quickly and it cannot always be successfully treated with drugs alone. Out veterinarian felt that it was best for Gojira’s health and survival that she undergo an ovariohysterectomy (spay). Gojira is now living happily as a spoiled “only child” of our dear friend, Sarah Schnau.
In 2012 I visited Japan for a three week trip with my parents. I came back with two new imports from Kozaki, a white female named Mosura and a little brindle male for Tae. I loved Japan so much that I went back again in 2013 and plan to continue making annual trips. Mosura lives with my parents and their boxer, Hilde.
At the end of 2012 we decided to import another red female to take Gojira’s place in our breeding program. I had a certain look in mind, with a lovely face and great earset just like Gojira has. I also wanted an older, proven female who I knew would not have any fertility problems. It wasn’t easy and my criteria was very strict, but my contact managed to find Bijo for us and she is absolutely perfect. She is everything I have wanted in a Japanese Akita since I first came across the breed five years prior.
Bijo gave us two great litters, from which we kept Angirasu and Gamera as our pick puppies and the future of her line. We also placed Bijo’s sons in homes where they would be well-situated for stud in other parts of the country. Angirasu nearly died at five months old due to a bacterial infection and colossal screw-up by the ER vet; the illness, invasive surgery, and aftermath left her shy around people, so we choose not to show her. Instead we do other activities such as Nosework and Barn Hunt with Angi. Gamera on the other hand is everything we wanted from our “temperament breeding” and has great breed type to go with it. In October of 2014 she became the very first UKC Grand Champion Japanese Akita. Her parents, King Ghidora and Bijo, soon followed.
At the end of 2013 we took in a dog named Batora when his owner could no longer keep him. Our primary goal was to keep him out of a shelter or the hands of an irresponsible breeder, evaluate him, and then find him a new home. He is a fantastic dog, so we decided to show him and consider him for breeding. Batora turned out to be our best show dog and passed all his health clearances with flying colors, but unfortunately he was infertile.
Our most recent import came in 2015, when we brought back a brindle bitch named Godzuki from Japan with Tae’s help. Her arrival was completely unplanned, but she has made a welcome addition to our family.
Recently we had a major life change. I decided to go back to school and instead of finishing my original Bachelors, I came up with a long term plan to dual major in Animal Science and Asian Studies. I am learning Japanese, and hope to one day have a research grant to study the population, diversity, genetics, and health issues of the Akita in Japan. We have so little hard facts and statistics about the breed, and I would like to change that.
Every year brings new surprises and challenges, and we’re looking forward to what the next few years will bring.