Dogs of the Snow Country

And for Toby’s birthday, two posts in one day!

I am also a writer, mostly of poetry and nonfiction, but occasionally of fiction.  I am an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, but have not written much in this much beloved genre.  A few years ago, though a story came to me, and I was lucky enough to get it published.  So here is my first published fantasy story, which, of course, features Nihon Ken.  It’s a long story, a novella, so is not a quick read, but I hope is an enjoyable one.  While the story is fantasy, it is clearly based on the native dogs of Japan.

And while it is not illustrated, I thought I’d include a couple of photos of the dogs that inspired by story.  The Kai Ken:

The Akitas:

And of course, the Shibas:

And here is my story, with a huge thank you to the editors at Black Denim Literary Review who published it:  “Dogs of the Snow Country.” 

Toby is 12!

Happy birthday to my best boy, Toby, who turned 12 today!

He’s gone from this:

Four weeks old

Four weeks old

to this:

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What doesn’t change is his interests, which include food and riding in the car!  So for his birthday, I picked him and put him in the car (he can’t jump into the car on his own anymore, though he feels being lifted is very undignified!) and we went out for a birthday jaunt.

He had a birthday cheeseburger, which he enjoyed:

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He decided, however, that a true Shiba servant (ie. me) should help him get to the good parts:

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Ok, that looks better:
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What big teeth you have:

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The bread wasn’t that great, but in the end, he decided to eat that too:

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We also went for a short walk in town today, which he enjoyed at first, but then he decided he was done with his walk, and we still had to get back, so I think our walk went a bit longer than he enjoyed (it was still under a mile, but Toby is still having some trouble in his leg).

Toby’s 11th year was eventful.  Toby has severe luxating patella in one leg, and it’s not great in the other either.   Most of last spring, he was hopping on three legs.   I had plans for treatment, but due to an unrelated family emergency, ended up not having the money for his treatment.  But thanks to fabulous friends and readers of this blog, we were able to raise enough money to help Toby.   A huge THANK YOU to all of you who contributed to the fund!

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Toby says THANK YOU!!!

My regular vet was reluctant to do surgery on an 11 year old dog, so we went with a well recommended non-surgical approach called prolotherapy. (this is not my vet, but the description of prolotherapy was a good one).  Toby had several different treatments, from July into the fall.  It was wonderfully successful at first, but during the summer, Toby got in a fight with Leo and got hurt fairly badly.  This set back resulted in more damage to his knee, and though we did more treatments, he still has not fully recovered and is still limping.  If we could do more, I do believe we’d have more success, but due to limited funds (and another dog, Zora, who did have knee surgery in December for the same issue), we’ve been unable to continue, so Toby is still limping, though it is getting better.  I’m hoping to continue treatment sometime this spring.

During his recovery, he had daily short walks:

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And other low impact activities:

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(For anyone who goes through knee problems with their dogs, do investigate the non-surgical options.  Though we had a setback and not quite the results we wanted, I do think it was effective.  It’s not cheaper than surgery–or at least wasn’t cheaper than the old school knee repair my regular vet does–your mileage may vary depending on location–so explore all your options and consult with multiple vets!)

So now, Toby is 12. He is truly a Shiba elder now.   He is my familiar, my best boy, my heart dog.  He has been with me through some very difficult times, both for him and for me, and he is always there, in his undemonstrative Shiba way.   He’s given up hunting, and doesn’t do much of a Shiba 500 anymore.  He doesn’t even really jump up on the sofa anymore–but he enjoys his kuranda bed with his soft sheepskin on it.  He sleeps a lot.  He’s got cataracts, though he can still see except for in low light, and he can’t hear well, but he’s sharp as ever mentally and he enjoys his short walks, though they are slower these days.   I hope we have more years together to come.  I love my Toby!

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Want to help celebrate Toby’s birthday?  How about through supporting Shiba rescue?  There are many Shiba elders in need of homes.  Shiba elders are fantastic!  They’re usually pretty calm couch potatoes (though may be grumpy with other dogs or perhaps, like Toby, not tolerate other dogs at all anymore) and would make great companions who are past the crazy puppy stage.   If you can, consider adopting a Shiba elder in need.  I’ve included a couple of rescues, below, that tend to have Shiba elders that need homes.  Or if you can’t adopt, perhaps you can donate to a rescue that helps elders.  I’ve included some that I’ve supported, and also included the national list.

Northwest Shibas 4life
Tristate Shiba Rescue

Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue

Shiba Inu Rescue of Texas

Or check out the list of National Shiba rescues here:  Shiba rescue in the US

Happy birthday, Toby!


Toby, from a few years back.