Koharu Updates - Pic Spam!
  • ImanIman
    Posts: 14
    So it's been about 5 weeks since Koharu's joined us and I thought I'd start a thread for my pup! I've been putting a bunch of pics on my Instagram (located over at starlightjellyfish in case anyone's into the social media) because I think she's the most adorable puppy in the world, haha. She and I and the boyfriend are settling into a routine and getting to know one another, and I think it's been going pretty well.

    We imported Koharu from Japan, and since I barely did any of the work (super special thanks and probably my eternal gratitude to Shigeru!), my experience centres solely on picking up her up from the airport. We drove ~4 hours to Detroit to pick her up and she was super cheerful and she weathered it beautifully! All the people working at the cargo desk loved her, too. Something that I will note, though, is that when we crossed back over the border into Canada, we had to pay taxes on her. We told them the amount we paid, but didn't look at the actual paperwork before going back home (it was like 11 PM and we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us!), and we ended up paying way more in taxes than we needed to. Our mistake, but if anyone else is doing the same, it's something to look out for. The Canadian border agent even came out on her break/while we were paying the taxes to meet our puppy because Koharu is just too cute - the boyfriend says it's the first time he's ever seen a border guard smile! Anyway arriving home at like 3:30 AM after like 8 hours of driving + a full day before that + an energetic puppy who is now wide awake is not pleasant... If I had to do that again, I would do it differently!

    In the first few days of having Koharu, the boyfriend and I described her as the calmest puppy we'd ever met. Even other humans she met described her like that. She wasn't even afraid of the vacuum! We joked that if she stayed that way, we've used up all our puppy luck for the rest of our lives. As she settled in, she started acting up and pushing boundaries (now she tries to attack the vacuum, and she's learned how to jump onto the couch and bed) but she's still exceptionally calm compared to other puppies we've met. I'm still sure we've used up our lifetime puppy luck, and still hoping that dog puberty doesn't change her too much! Her personality and temperment are just exactly what we were looking for, even if she's sometimes a brat (but from what I hear, all puppies are brats anyway!).

    At first, she took a while to warm up to new dogs. She loves meeting new humans but was wary of new dogs. Now she's realized that other dogs are fun to play with and tries to play with all the other dogs! When we go out, she'll try to run to every dog and human out there, so it's something for us to work on. We had our last puppy class earlier today, and she typically played nicely with all the other puppies! One sort-of problem we do have is with the boyfriend's mom's 2 year old standard poodle - that dog has all the puppy playfulness but the energy/stamina of an adult dog, so when Koharu's done playing, the poodle still wants to run around and bother her. Not really much of a dog problem but it's something we have to watch out for until Koharu is big enough to hold her own.

    She's pretty wonderful with regards to being handled - she's fine at the vet (everyone loves her there!), has no issues being poked or prodded anywhere, whenever we brush her, good with her paws being picked up and touched... The only thing that we can't really do easily is get to her teeth. But, she has such a soft mouth! She'll put my arm in her mouth and gently mouth it, and while her jaw's gotten stronger, it's still very gentle and there's barely any pressure. She's started teething and chewing on strange items like the bars of her expen or crate (she's not trying to get out of containment since it's all open). I think she's also learned that chewing on certain items, like the couch, gets her attention from the humans... something for us to work on.

    Speaking of, I've started leaving her alone at home for longer increments and it's been going swimmingly. When I was first starting, I was a bit worried, since she would bark continually while in her crate. Now that we've gotten a bigger one and given her free reign of her expen as well, she just lies down to nap or will chew on her various toys while alone. She'll excitement pee sometimes when I come home, but I'm assuming that'll stop once she gets better control of her puppy bladder. If I get her out before she gets too excited, we can avoid the excitement pee, but sometimes she just is too happy to see me again!

    Also, she practically house-trained herself. We watched her very closely the first few days and so the only accidents she had were ones where we thought she didn't need to go (such as when she just came back in from a pee) and that was more on us since she was giving us the right signals. We tried to teach her to ring a bell to let her out, but she quickly learned that the bell means she gets let out and after a night of zoomies when she desperately wanted to go out to play, we removed the bell... Now she sits in front of the door to be let out, lol. She also sleeps through the night, although she sometimes asks to be let out if we forget to take her water away before putting her to bed.

    With regards to food, she has become pretty spoiled. She has moved from shoving her meals into her mouth and me being able to use kibble for training to turning her nose at a bowl full of kibble and becoming bored if the training treats aren't higher value! And this is at home, too! It's frustrating because I don't want to fill her full of high value treats, but I also want her to get basic obedience down. I think she might love peanut butter more than anything else. I made pumpkin peanut butter cookies for her a couple days ago and she'll come running to me every time she thinks I might give her one. She also adores dried fish skin chews and fish in general. Her poops are inconsistent at best but she's her usual self and the vet told us it's nothing to worry about, so I just keep giving her pumpkin and hoping she gets more regular, lol.

    Her training has been going decently, though. The first things I taught her were sit and come, back when she still took kibble regularly during training sessions, so she's pretty good at those now! The boyfriend has a 100 acre property a couple hours north of us, and over the May long weekend, we went up to try some off-leash work (well, more like leash-dragging) and recall. She was about 50/50 on that - you could see her look at you and gauge whether or not the treat we had was better than whatever fun she was having! We came across some fur that she ran off to sniff, where I had to run into a bunch of growth to catch her (good thing for our bright leash too - she blends right into the woods!), but that was the only real issue we had. Otherwise, if we let her do her thing, she'd eventually get her fill and would continue when we asked her to. She also loved jumping into the river, so I think she'll be a great canoeing companion!

    I've seen a bit of her prey drive, but mostly in that she wants to chase leaves, ants, and flying insects (which she's caught and eaten because I'm not good at catching insects, lol). Whenever we walk past the (MANY) Canada geese, she also perks up at them and wants to chase them, but sometimes she just pays them no mind. When the boyfriend took her for a walk the other night, they walked right past some deer and she didn't even notice them! When playing with toys, it took a while for her to tug on things - her mouth is so soft that she didn't bite down hard enough on toys for us to play tug, and she'll chase balls and sometimes bring them back, but not want to drop them! Things to work on, haha.

    She's about 50/50 on getting carsick or not. She's only thrown up once but she gets very drool-y when it's bumpy or there's lots of turns.

    My place is currently covered in her fur. I'm not sure if this is her losing her puppy coat or her blowing coat or both, but I vacuumed yesterday and you can't even tell. I'll pet her and fur comes flying out. She'll shake herself and fur is ejected everywhere. The wind blows in through a window and, that's right, more fur. I expected the whole fur covering all of my possessions bit, but I'm constantly amazed at how much fur such a small creature could possibly lose without becoming completely bald! She's also growing more guard hairs on her neck, while her head is still very soft and fuzzy. The boyfriend adores her soft fuzzy head and would love it if she kept that for the rest of her life, hahaha.

    Anyway, that has been my wall-of-text update on practically everything going on with Koharu. It's been a difficult adjustment for me, not having much dog experience before her, but I can't imagine not having her with us. She's adorable and I can't wait till she gets the all-clear from our vet to go to more dog-busy areas (just another week or so, I believe!). Here are a bunch of pictures:

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  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 205
    Such a cutie! If I may ask, why did you drive all the way down to the USA to get her?

    For the fur, you might already do this but I'll offer my advice anyway. I would advise you to give her a good brushing and then give her a bath... a good drying off... then after her bath give ANOTHER good brushing. That will usually get the worst of the blow out of the way. Make sure you have a rake. The best tools I have for brushing kaja are a rake: LINK and shedding blade: LINK. Seriously. Those are like the only two things you need. And while you wanna be thorough you don't wanna press too hard (it can hurt their skin!). I use the rake mostly for her neck where I have to get to the root of the thick stuff... and the blade is for the rest of her body. The blade is AMAZING.

    You mentioned something about wanting her head to be soft and fuzzy forever? Kaja is still super soft and fuzzy on her head, so as far as my experience with her goes, I can say it seems to be a permanent thing. :P

    I'd suggest getting a 50 foot long line for training. It's loads easier to reel them in if you have to. ;)

    She is sooo adorable. I def miss having a puppy around! There can never be enough puppy photos so take as many as you dare during this stage haha
    Post edited by Kaja at 2017-06-05 00:58:08
  • justinjustin
    Posts: 53
    These pictures are adorable!!
  • TheWalrusTheWalrus
    Posts: 1569
    Good to see she is doing well.
    As for the dog hair... welcome to the life. At least you only have 1 pup!
  • ImanIman
    Posts: 14
    We drove to the US because the flights to Toronto didn't work out logistically - airlines not flying out of one airport and such. There was a point where I was considering a last minute trip to Seattle, too...

    Thanks for the shedding recs though!! Definitely going to try that out! And the boyfriend is very happy to hear that her head will likely stay soft and fuzzy.

    We actually just started looking at 50 and 100 ft lines, so hopefully there will be less of me running into the bush to catch her haha.

    Almost every picture on my phone is a picture of Koharu... I tell people that it's a good thing she's adorable because she can be such a frustrating brat sometimes! And everyone tells me that I'll miss the puppy days, but right now I don't really believe them hahaha.

    Though yesterday the boyfriend did say that if we forego the human offspring bit, he'd want a second dog... or even if we do have a child... my response was something like "two dogs and a child?! :-O "
  • GrayJJGrayJJ
    Posts: 269
    Congrats on the addition! Love your IG spam lol (I'm @graysonandtakeo)

    I also use just a regular rake, and also a plain comb it gets all the hair out. I give T a bath when lots of fur is loose and it helps to encourage it all out (+ another long brushing after he's dry). Beware the fur gets all in your drain though, so a little strainer is helpful, or take them to the dog Wash at the pet store ;)

    Re: food/treats, I try to rotate what treats are, so they don't know what to expect. It seems to keep attention more if I do that than try to feed the same kind all the time.

    Lol don't get too frustrated yet, this is definitely the fun phase :D think of how cute she is + keep taking a million pics, they grow up too fast!

    Your post made me realize I didn't post about importing experience either - may start a thread about that!
  • ImanIman
    Posts: 14
    Ooh good to see you on the forum!

    We did end up giving her a bath and I appear to be inhaling less fur now hahaha. The next goal is to see if we can condition her to like baths... or at least not try to escape.

    I'm trying to stay optimistic that I'll one day miss when she was a puppy! When she tries to chew on the wall after walking past almost everything she's allowed to chew on though... lol.

    Definitely start a thread about your experience! I'd love to hear about it and it might be useful for others too!
  • MieKenMieKen
    Posts: 5
    What a cutie pie. Very lively and cheerful! I've always admired the Shikoku ken for their coat. What had you interested in the Shikoku ken?

    It's going to be while before I consider getting a dog, but I have a few questions since I've just learned about the option of importing Nihon ken.

    How old was Koharu when she arrived?
    Are you responsible for the dog's vaccinations, or does the breeder from Japan take care of those?

    Thanks much in advance!
  • ImanIman
    Posts: 14
    Koharu was 11 weeks when she arrived! Shigeru at Japan Dog Export sent her over to us and I believe he did most of the vaccination work required to send her over. He makes it super easy for those of us with no connections in Japan and no idea how to even start navigating the Nihon Ken scene. Really, all we did was send money and drive to the airport!

    So what had us interested in the Shikoku was a variety of reasons. From a shallow point of view, I think they're really gorgeous dogs! We also wanted a camping and hiking companion, especially the boyfriend, who grew up with standard poodles who had gone camping with his family. While we weren't opposed to poodles, they weren't really our top choice of dog - for me, they were just too clingy and affection-demanding and, going back to being shallow, they look really silly haha. Even looking at Koharu now, I'm just constantly impressed by how elegant she can look (until she does a silly puppy thing!). And from a size point of view, they're not a small dog, which both the boyfriend and I also aren't the biggest fans of, but still small enough that I can pick her up when I need to.

    I don't quite recall how I came across the Shikoku but I let the boyfriend read about them (and probably all the Nihon Ken) and he fell in love with the breed description. It was pretty much everything he wanted in a dog. Since I had no dog experience, I kind of let him take the reins one what dog to get - as a kid, I wanted a Doberman so my opinion wasn't going to get us an easier first time owner dog lol. It's not like it took much convincing for me, anyway! There are probably other dog breeds that would suit us just as well as a Shikoku (or maybe even better!) but since the boyfriend fell in love, I didn't bother looking at other breeds.

    Anyway, since you mention that you might be interested in importing, we only imported a pup because it kind of was perfect timing. This is probably going to be way more info about me than anyone needs, but maybe good to put out there for others considering importing a companion dog haha. Last year, the boyfriend and I had talked about sending in an application to Akashima, since they're in Canada and seem to be breeding some nice dogs. It would've still involved a flight, but hey, the same country is great! We ultimately decided against it at the time because we were both working a lot - it wasn't a good time for us and while we knew that we'd be waiting and we're fine with that, we didn't really think we'd have the time for a dog in the foreseeable future (for example, the boyfriend travels a lot for work and it doesn't look to be slowing down). We didn't see a point in even getting on the wait list since we didn't know when we'd be able to dedicate the time to a puppy! Then I lost my job last year and while I've been looking, I'm still unemployed.

    Earlier this year, we saw that there were some Shikoku pups that needed homes in Shigeru's blog. The boyfriend and I had many long conversations about whether or not we should even contact him, since now I had tons of time for a puppy... eventually we decided that we should try since we have some savings and we also have a pretty robust support network (our parents are nearby, and a lot of our friends and family have dogs or love them) and various other reasons that we used to justify it to ourselves haha. Eventually, Koharu made it over here and I'm biased but she's the most adorable puppy in the world.

    I don't think we would've imported normally, especially since there are breeders in North America who do things like health testing, and would be contactable for questions or concerns, and etc. I just feel really lucky right now that Koharu's been doing great so far since I was expecting the worst, and in some ways, still am (but I'm a natural worrier!). Koharu is just a companion for us, so I don't think there's any benefit that we gained from importing her - it was just good timing that we now have her with us and I can dedicate so much time to her. Anyway this has been my wall of text for a question you didn't ask so hopefully it's not presumptuous and you (or someone else) finds it helpful hahaha.

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