We saw our first Shiba Inu in Spring of 1995; we also discovered that the waiting list for a puppy was long.|
In late summer we learned of a breeding accident and unexpected litter of puppies in Munich. We drove to Munich the last week in November to pick out one of 3 females for me; Irmi was not certain she wanted a dog. We sat in Jytte Roeschke's living room watching the sleeping puppies, when the largest awakened, crawled out, waddled with white socks across the room, and greeted Irmi. Irmi said, "I want this one!" I replied that I would get my female in a year and Kimiko came to us almost one year later. I called him Heideyoshi after a Samurai Warrior with a short name of Yoshi. The Roeschke's being Danish spelled it Joshe and for the rest of his life, Vet clinics called him Josh. Within weeks Irmi started calling him Joshi Bear.
Joshi was friendly to all people but he had priorities; there was Irmi and everyone else. If Irmi was around he was literally her "Shadow". If Irmi was gone, Joshi could adjust easily to someone else; but the transition was only temporary. Joshi belonged to Irmi, body and soul. As he got older (deaf and loss of much vision) his dependence on Irmi grew. In his later years, suffering from sensory loss, hearing and sight, he would still know when Irmi was leaving or had left the house and begin to howl until her return. Kimiko would tolerate only so much and then silence him. Even with dementia in his final months when he couldn't find Irmi he would begin howl. Joshi also formed an attachment to My mother-in-law, an old German Farm Wife who never cared for dogs. But he won her over and she loved him from the beginning and brought him fresh meat treats whenever she visited or we visited her which was quite often.
We visited the Roeschke's the following year and left Joshi on their enclosed Patio and went to the kennel; a few moments later we looked up to see Joshi standing on the roof looking down on us. Unable to get over the fence, he went in the house, upstairs, found an open window (no screens in Germany) and walked out on the porch roof until he was overlooking the kennel.
We had just moved into our new house in Angelbachtal when Helle Roeschke visited us on her way to a Dog Show in northern Germany. She had two dogs with her, both very friendly, and I told her they could stay in the house. Only after they left and I observed Joshi marking the radiators, curtains and certain furniture objects, did I realize that you must never allow two intact males to occupy the same space unless you are fond of the smell of dog urine and musk.
Kimiko joined our family, Joshi, Irmi and me when she was nine weeks old. Kimiko moved in and took over the house. Joshi never had a chance; dominated from the beginning by the smaller female, where Kimi lead, Joshi deferred. Joshi and Kimiko were inseparable; when Kimiko went to the Bridge, a big part of Joshi went with her and he suffered from dementia after that; he simply could not adjust to the lost of his comrade of 13 years.
All Shibas are skilled actors. Joshi hurt his foot once on a long walk near our home in Angelbachtal; he was walking on three legs and kept looking at me to do something. I carried him the 1 1/2 miles back to our house with Kimi in tow, no simple task when he weighed 27lbs. Several times I put him down and watched him walk on three legs. When we arrived home I set him down inside the main entrance and he raced off to find Irmi, absolutely nothing wrong with his foot. Later in life he refused to walk off the road in Colorado, making it difficult to explore. Kimiko was already 200 yds away waiting for us while we drug Joshi on foot at a time.
We had assumed that Joshi, not Kimi, would suffer more during separation. In 1998, we visited the US for 3wks; the decision to leave our Shibas behind made easy by the costs of taking them with us. We did the next best thing and left them in the care of an old woman who lived in an old German farmhouse/barn on an enclosed 3 acres with a dog, 5 cats, a few chickens and goats. The Shibas had to be evaluated for compatibility with her animals. The dog and cats all shared her old fashioned king-size bed. The Shibas can be a bit territorial (a lot). Mrs. Leonhardt told us afterwords, it took only two nights for Kimi and Joshi to take over her bed. It was Kimi who suffered from separation. Joshi took up his place on the couch next to Mrs. Leonhardt and, according to her, showed no signs of regret. One second after he saw us, he was back at Irmi's side as if he had never left it.
Joshi the Hunter: Joshi was the consument hunter, alert, quick, vicious to the pray. Usually, by the time we realized what was afoot, he had already killed the mouse, rat, or gopher. In this regard he was a slave to his instincts; he never was able to leave the toads in Hampton alone. Each spring he would need to bite one toad before remembering that they tasted really bad and were best left alone. Kimiko needed only one case and never went after a toad again.
Joshi had many of the problems an old dog/man has. He was deaf, eyes no longer focused properly, kidneys were failing, heart murmur and arthritis. Irmi and I would say things to each other like "each day could be his last." However, saying it and believing it and being prepared for it are not the same. The pain is just as great and hole left behind just as big. Our decision was made easy for us; Joshi's last day, he suffered a stroke that destroyed much of his muscle control. Joshi's passing was as peaceful as Kimi's had been a struggle. He passed quickly and, in my opinion, willingly. With Kimiko gone, he lived only for Irmi. In the end, his tired old body just gave out. Now he plays with his Kimiko on the Bridge. RIP Joshi Bear.