Seth J Coblentz
Never Trust a Red Dog
In our last update, we noted that Rumi had a successful trip to Poland last month when "meeting" with her male suitor, Oshi. In the subsequent weeks after their "meeting," Rumi exhibited tell tale signs of pregnancy... or what I presumed were signs. I was ecstatic one morning when Rumi proceeded into our bedroom and threw up. "Morning sickness" I exuberantly uttered! "No, idiot.. it has only been 1week since Poland, too soon," my wife kindly corrected me. Turns out that dogs can get morning sickness as a sign of pregnancy, but typically not until a month after conception, if at all. But plenty of other signs pointed in the direction of a successful pregnancy, including lethargy, disinterest in interacting with Sugu or Yuki and almost refusing to go on walks. The alternative theory would be that Rumi was going through a bout of debilitating depression, but this was quickly debunked.
Last week we approached the moment of truth, our first ultrasound for Rumi. Kathrin and I oscillated between optimism and a gloomy doubt that Rumi was in fact pregnant. On the one hand, it seems like every dog in heat needs only take a stroll around the block and she gets pregnant (picture all the stray dogs roaming major cities around the world). On the other hand, we had been cautioned by friends in the Shikoku community about just how difficult Shikoku breeding can be... even under the absolute best of circumstances. With equal parts excitement and anxiety, we prepared to take Rumi to the vet on December 2nd (coincidentally my birthday). The day began as most, with a long walk through the forest. On this particular day, Kathrin stayed home and tended to our newest Shiba, Yuki, while I took Rumi and Sugu out in the freezing rain/snow to get their exercise.
As a side note, I have great trust and confidence in Rumi and routinely let her off the leash. But in the back of my mind is always Kathrin's warning... "Never Trust a Red Dog!" This admonishment has been borne out over years of her experiences with Pacha (her red male Shiba who passed away at the age of 14) and our own experience with Rumi (and most recently Yuki). Rumi seems to have this preternatural ability to sense when it is an important day (e.g., German inspection of our kennel day, or the day that we are traveling out of the country, or any given day when there is something that demands her presence). So on the morning of December 2nd, like any other, Rumi was off leash while Sugu looked on in consternation why he is NEVER untethered. At the halfway point of our walk, in the middle of a field surrounded by patches of forest with a river and valleys and home to dozens of local deer, boar and fox, Rumi looked back at me as if to say "Auf Wiedersehen, Motherfucker!" and promptly hit the forest like a Porsche with no breaks.
In the past she would do this as a bluff, and quickly return back... but not on this day of course. Sugu and I proceeded to walk several kilometers through the snow and foggy cold until I heard a dog barking and the voice of a gentleman who was anything but pleased. I recognized the Airedale Terrier (the "King of Terriers" incidentally) and his septuagenarian owner. As an Ausländer, I have still not developed the ear to know if someone is screaming at you because that is how many Germans converse in any situation, or if the volume of their voice is more sinister. Based on the context of this one-sided screaming match, I was certain this gentleman was not wishing me a fine day and complimenting me on the beauty of Rumi's athleticism. The English words "idiot" and "asshole" have their cognates in German and I knew he was sending me to hell in a dozen different ways... guessing that Rumi came to say hi to him and his VERY aggressive Airedale. I took the hi-road and rattled off the conciliatory Bitte Entschuldigung and Es tut mir leid and then tried my luck by asking him Weißt du wo mein hund es ist? (Do you know where my dog is?). This seemed to make him even more enraged as the screaming escalated but to his credit after a few minutes of further berating me for Rumi's leashless jaunt he did manage to point in the direction of where he believed Rumi to be. Another Pyrrhic victory for me with the locals.
My breathless escape artist, Rumi, did return to the scene of the assignation after more than an hour of roaming the range. All I could do was smile. Back home, we loaded up the doggie mobile and drove to our new vet to see what the fates would allow. Rumi didn't blink as we placed her on the vet's table and watched as she had her stomach shaved and cold gel rubbed over her belly to prep for the ultrasound. Rumi is so amazingly calm, never rattled. I can't say the same for Kathrin and me. A long diagnostic search for little walnuts (i.e., doggie babies) was unimpressive. The prognosis was that it didn't appear Rumi was flush with walnuts but the vet said we should return in a couple days to reconfirm. Needless to say, we were crestfallen that the "meeting" in Poland was apparently unsuccessful. Fast forward to two days later, Kathrin returned to the vet with Rumi for a second look. I stayed home in an effort to avoid further disappointment, this special snowflake does not suffer disappointment well. HOWEVER, Kathrin returned home with the best news under the circumstances. Rumi is harboring at least one little walnut with a heartbeat, or more and the vet indicated that we can expect a small litter, assuming all continues to go well (which it may not). We are over the moon that there is a "proof of life" as they say in Colombian kidnapping cases, after losing a bit of hope, but barely allow ourselves to get excited yet. We continue to keep our fingers crossed and look to ensure Rumi's best life and health. With any luck, and it does seem like luck mostly, we'll have some more positive news in a few weeks.