Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Akita in Belize

If you've read some of my entries you'll recognize that I'm referring to Bailey, our seven year old, now overweight Akita. I have to admit that his heritage is somewhat in question. His coloring makes him appear to be part shepherd, but, as our daughter said, when she lived in Japan, she saw "Bailey's" everywhere. Most probably weren't quite his size. It doesn't even matter to us, as he's exactly who and what we want.

Our son & family had an "akita" some year post who was wonderful. He was slow to move and could be somewhat of a lump until someone messed with one of their kids. Then watchout. He was poetry in motion. We watched him put down a rotweiler who was charging in the direction of the family. Sarg, met him, quietly reached up under him, grabbed him by the throat, flipped him on his side and pinned him to the ground. The owner came rushing up and led the crying dog away. Wow, sure glad Sarg was on our side. The kids could crawl all over him an often did.

As I told in an earlier post, I had been searching the Akita rescue sites when I spotted an ad by the Humane Society, including a photo, for Bailey. He was the image of Sarg. Art dashed down to Bend and put in a bid to make a home for Bailey. At five years old he was still a male so we had to wait a day for him to be neutered. Their rules. He'd been picked up at the north end of town, running. The handlers at the pound really loved him and were determined to find him a good home. What baffled everyone was that no one came to claim him. Why was he running? That's actually a question we've never been able to answer. It doesn't appear that he's ever been mistreated, but, as with most Akitas, he's very opinionated, not taking kindly to discipline and he's afraid of thunder and extremely loud noises. Those are things that we've found with most dogs.

Right after we got him, he got loose and took off running. We were heartbroken and looked everywhere for 5 days, putting up posters, etc. We figured he was looking for someone. To our delight and relief, he came home after all that time, thirsty and hungry. We met some fellows working on a house remodel down the road and they told us that they'd spotted him, caught in a pile of lumber, down near the river. One of them was brave enough to go down and pull his leash out and he took off for home. Our home, much to our joy.

I've already related the story of our drive from Bend, Oregon to Belize, but Bailey made it all so much more fun. He's a lovely traveler, bonding with our pickup and enjoying the airconditioning. He gave us so much more confidence traveling thru Mexico because, when officers caught site of him, they'd usually just wave us thru. I don't think I mentioned that, at the time he weighed 110#s. Now, I hate to admit he probably weighs more like 125#s.

Sadly, we can't let him run loose because he will run. He would come back home, but first he'd poke into the bush to check on the snakes and tarantulas or even try to confront the black jaguar that has been spotted around our area. Also, altho' Belizians are extremely afraid of dogs, many would love to own him for that very reason. We've had inquiries about using him as a stud with local dogs and they don't really understand how he could have been neutered.

When we built our little house (600 sq ft) we put a veranda all the way around so that Bailey would have a least a little place to run and also, he can hopefully find the coolest side of the house. We also put him out on a cable in the shade when it's hot.

The whole point of this is that he's not just a wonderful friend, but truly part of our family. He's only happy when he's with us, or has us in sight. Akita's are very quiet, but if he thinks he's being ignored, he'll bark to remind us that he wants attention.

This heat right now is a worry for us on his behalf. I know that he'd be much happier in a cold climate. The surprising thing is that he has an extremely thick coat with guard hairs on his back. He does shed, but his coat remains very thick. We've decided that he's like the bedoins who cover themselves with wool to insulate against the heat. We're watching him closely, but he seems to be managing about as well as we are, drinking lots of water and panting.

I can't imagine living here without him. He makes us feel safe and loved. What a gift.


Emily said...

What a wonderful tribute to Bailey! I hope it will cool off (at least to normal!) a bit soon for him, and for you. I love hot weather, but that definitely sounds extreme.

sandy a said...

He sounds like a great dog. Being in Belize, it is probably best to keep him home anyway, but I wonder if he first ran off when you got him because the testosterone hadn't gotten all the way out of his system? That's usually why male dogs run around--looking for a girlfriend