Seth J Coblentz
Oooooo, would we call her chubby?
So this entry is dedicated to Shibas, but more specifically our Yuki. Several months ago Kathrin and I hatched a plan to spend a month in Italy. Do a few cycling events, visit some friends, enjoy the mountains with the dogs, and shake off the last year of Covid travel restrictions. As the departure date neared, we were told by several hotels that we had to cancel because we would be the only guests and this was not economically feasible. Despite the reluctant hotels, we were still confident in our travel agenda. The plan was later modified as we tried to calculate Rumi's breeding cycle and laboring under the false belief that she may be ripe in late June. (Spoiler alert: She is on her own schedule and still weeks away from being receptive to a male suitor).
Fortunately for me, Kathrin provided the green light to take our little Yuki on her first mountain venture while she monitored Rumi's signs and looked after Mr. Sugu as well. Suffice to say, Yuki was properly introduced to high elevation. She slept for a month anywhere between 1,400 and 2,300 meters of elevation. She thrived on a diet of speck and local cheeses, chasing marmots in the morning and avoiding aggressive cows in the afternoon. In addition, she got to take her first gondola and chairlift ride, visit the site of our dearly departed Shiba Pacha on the river beneath the Kanzel lift, dine at our favorite Yak&Yeti as the belle of the ball and sleep under the stars... if only from an apartment balcony.
Traveling alone is a mixed bag. It's nice to set your only schedule and live by your own rules. However, I could not have managed a month away from home if not for Yuki's constant companionship. She makes everything better, car rides, long walks and a snuggle buddy at night. Maybe it is a fact of getting older, but the analysis after a long trip (including hours of driving, more hours climbing the mountains, and the otherwise great unknown) is always the same for me. Did we get home safe and how did we do it?
We did get home safe, and in time for Yuki's first dog show. Side note, Shibas are far superior to Shikokus in managing love car rides and the Tornante of the mountains. So Yuki's first dog show was on the outskirts of the historic city of Köln. She had two days to prove her stuff against a large group of Shibas. The first day was the least daunting. We had only one other young female Shiba in the ring for competition. The differences between Yuki and the other Shiba could not be more abject. Yuki is a large female with a lush coat of fur. She literally dwarfed the other Shiba which seemed to be half her size. I thought this could only be a good thing.... bigger is better. I learned otherwise when Yuki took second prize to the Mame Shiba competitor.
Around the holidays I like to watch the movie Love Actually, a British film with Hugh Grant from 2003. When I heard the judge call Yuki "chubby"... I had an instant flashback to Hugh Grant (portraying Britain's Prime Minister) uneased by another woman calling his love interest "Chubby". Wherein he replied, "Ohhhh, would we call her chubby?" This is a clear digression. But hearing a family member called chubby who spent the prior month climbing mountains and chasing marmots strains credulity. The fact is (and this is a fact), Yuki is incredibly muscular, incredibly unadulterated Japanese, and has a thick coat. I've attended enough of these dog shows to know that the judges have their preferences, but it did feel like a bit of body shaming for our little girl and this cannot abide.
Day two of the dog show went substantially better, with Yuki taking second overall out of four dogs. She remained a clear plus sized model relative to the others, but she was otherwise perfect in the ring. Love as they say is blind. I'm likely incapable of pure objectivity where Yuki is concerned, but she is is the bravest of the brave champions in my book.