We met Tsunami on September 15, 2001. We had been without a dog in our lives for about 16 months and wanted to have a companion again. An ad in the Washington Post said they had Akita puppies and we went to look them over. One wiggly little girl captured our hearts and we said we'd come back in a few weeks when she would be ready to leave her mother. She weighed about 8 pounds when we got her and on the ride home, she threw up in Jane's lap. We named her Tsunami because of her Japanese ancestry and we figured she'd be a little whirlwind as she grew up.|
Her first trip was to Virginia Beach, we went to visit our granddaughter Maddy who had been a favorite of Inu. She really enjoyed Tsunami and we had an enjoyable weekend. We went to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and the boys on skateboards frightened Tsunami, I had to carry her until we got off the boardwalk -- she was up to around 35 pounds by then, quite an armful.
We took her to our condo in Ocean City, I walked her on the beach, not her idea of fun -- she was like a sandpiper, scooting back as the waves approached her feet. We walked on the boardwalk, she chased seagulls, scaring them away from us. She made friends with Katie, a dog belonging to our upstairs neighbors Paul and Angela. She would sit on the balcony and watch the people and dogs below.
In the Spring of 2002, I retired and in August we moved to Florida. It was a three day trip with Tsunami and Sydney (the cat) in their separate crates in the rear of my SUV. Tsunami was very well-behaved, Sydney meowed the entire 975 miles. When we got to Pensacola, we put Tsunami in a kennel to board until we closed on the house. She was very excited when I picked her up to come home. It was always that way whenever she stayed at a kennel when we went on a trip -- she would come out squealing with delight at seeing me again, jumping and wiggling.
A week after we moved in, our granddaughter Addy was born. Beth brought her to the house when she was three days old and Tsunami became her guardian, she really loved that baby. Our other granddaughter Sara Fe' was just over two years old and Tsunami thought she was a puppy playmate -- she would come up behind her and nose her in the back, knocking her over.
Tsunami and I went through a training course that extended for about six months. We met with the trainer and a group of owners and dogs at a local park and recreation area. We went on group walks both on and off-lead, went to the tennis club and sat on the patio to socialize with some of the players and at the end of each session we took the dogs to the Dog Park where they could run around. One of the exercises the trainer had us do was to walk our dog to the front door of the Recreation Center, have her sit and stay while we went inside out of their sight. Tsunami was very good at this, she would wait patiently for me to come out and we would walk at heel back to the group.
She was playing in the back yard with my daughter's dog Wags, when she tore her cruciate ligament -- I heard her cry in pain and went to see what happened. We went to the emergency veterinary clinic and they diagnosed the problem. Our Vet arranged an appointment for us at the Veterinary Surgery Center in Birmingham. We took her there and they performed a TPLO on her left leg. She recuperated very well from that, but I wouldn't let her do a lot of running for fear that she would reinjure herself. About two years later, she was running toward the neighbor's fence and hurt her right leg. Fortunately, there was now a Veterinary Surgical Center in Pensacola, so we didn't have to go to Birmingham. She recovered from that and was such a good patient, she didn't have to use the "Cone of Shame" (Elizabethan Collar). She had a problem with fur loss. Our Vet tried many remedies with no success, so he arranged a consultation with the Veterinary Dermatologist at Auburn. He placed her on a regimen of drugs and injections that he formulated for us, but they did not help, in fact upset her digestion to the point that she had to go to the Emergency Clinic. She was there for a week and had exploratory surgery to determine the cause. When she came home, she had a feeding tube in her stomach and we fed her via the tube for a week. The Vet said she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and prescribed a diet of hypoallergenic dog food.
She was well known around our neighborhood. We would walk every morning, meeting the regular walkers at different points along the way. She also would stand by the gate in our driveway and greet passersby, both those with dogs and those alone. She was basically the watchdog for the corner of our street and the road at the end of our street. My neighbor had a business that had frequent deliveries -- UPS, FedEx, motor carriers, etc. Tsunami would bark when the trucks came to alert Wayne of their arrival. He became a great friend, bringing her treats at the fence every morning.
Since we retired, we would make frequent trips, cruises, vacations, etc. She would board at the Pensacola Pet Resort, where she was a favorite of the staff. They were very good to her and she never hesitated to go in when I brought her there. On one of our trips, a hurricane hit the area and the Resort lost power and water. They sent most of the dogs home, but we were in Hawaii and couldn't get home right away. They kept her there, bringing in water and food until we returned.
The poor girl was frightened of thunderstorms. We could always tell when one was coming -- long before it showed up on radar, she would get nervous and hover around us. I would often get up I the night and take her into our computer room, turn the lights on to wash out the lightning and sit with her until the storm abated.
As she got older, the operations on her legs caught up with her. She developed arthritis and had difficulty getting up from a lying down position. We had mostly wooden floors and she couldn't get a purchase to get up. We would put our feet against her paws to help. Her situation became increasingly worse and she could not tolerate any of the medications offered by our veterinarian. It came time for us to make the hardest decision of our lives and asked the vet to ease her way to the Bridge. I held her head in my lap and talked softly to her at the end.
Farewell and rest in peace my dear Tsunami.