Once in a Lifetime
You may find yourself in another part of the world... and you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife (and two beautiful Shikoku Ken)... and you may ask yourself... how did I get here? I think of these existential questions from time to time, often without a clear answer. But for today I'll try to articulate how my wife ("Kathrin") and I came to add Rumi and Sugu to our family and more recently decided to register our kennel for breeding Shikoku Ken in Germany.
In the late Fall of 2018, I uprooted from Miami and moved to a forested village North of Frankfurt, Germany. The plan was quite simple, it was... "to have no plan!" An uncomfortable position to take when discussing with your parents and loved ones, much less your new wife's parents. All I could initially envision were doors that I was closing on myself to make my change of venue more real, more liveable. But truly, many more doors opened contemporaneously, even if it took me months to realize it.
One door that flew open was the ability to care for a dog without the need to employ a surrogate dog walker and time giver. Basically, I had for the first instance in my adult life a very liberal work schedule and ample time to consider a dog. And so it went, with stiff encouragement from Kathrin (a lifelong owner of Shiba Inus, Akitas, Huskies and even the occasional Chihuahua) the search for "a" dog went into overdrive.
Kathrin's affinity for Japanese breeds was infectious the more I got to know her independent, cantankerous, proud and "I give ZERO fucks" Shiba Inu (Pacha). Had you asked me at this time, what is a "Shikoku Ken"... my answer would have ranged from a famous sushi chef to some exoctic Japanese mushroom. But with a little research and hours of scouring photos of the breed on-line, Kathrin and I decided to take a chance on this "Natural Monument" as it has been declared by the Japanese government.
After deciding on the Shikoku breed, our search was on for a reputable breeder from whom we could purchase a dog without attending a 3 year wait list. During this search, we came upon Laura Quadri. In my case, it was enough to know that her Kennel (where she breeds Shikokus, Shibas, Akitas and Kai Kens) was located less than an hour outside of Milano. A trip to Italy to buy a puppy? I'm in! Kathrin was of course much more diligent and understood after numerous conversations with Laura that she was the best fit for us (independent of whether she lived in my favorite country... ITALIA).
For no particular reason, I preferred a male puppy. However, fortunately (yes, fortunately) for us, Laura was only able to offer a female from her newest litter. And so it was that we made a road trip and picked up our little girl, Rumi. The rest is history, Rumi captured our hearts with her affection, silly antics and beautiful demeanor. Several months later, Laura reached out to us and inquired whether we were interested in a 9 month old male Shikoku from Rumi's litter. My initial thought was "No Way!" We had the perfect dog in Rumi and why upset any of that chemistry. But after sleeping on it, Kathrin and I understood what a unique opportunity it was to acquire Rumi's brother, Sugu. So another trip to Italy and Sugu was ours. By brief way of background, Sugu was (and is) the most perfect specimen of a "Japanese" styled Shikoku. Fortunately (yes, again, Fortunately), Sugu had a slight imperfection in the alignment of his teeth which disqualified him from winning dog shows and subsequently becoming the male stud for breeding... the purpose for which he was intended. Strange to consider that if he had a more pronounced nasal cavity and no underbite then we would be without this incredible guy.
Rumi and Sugu will turn 2 years old in October. Besides the miracle of having such loyal and loving dogs, a few surprises came with them. First, Rumi is a great show dog... and the only big surprise from my perspective is that I absolutely love the circus atmosphere of dog shows in Germany. Second, we've got to interact with some great and knowledgeable Shikoku folks, particularly Laura Quadri, but also the Godfather of Shikoku Kens - Kato the Walrus. Third, and more on this in the next blog, we've decided to become breeders of the Shikoku. Thank you for tuning in and more coming soon.