On September 9, 2009 we adopted a Shiba Inu who had spent her first seven or so years in a puppy mill. She likely had six to thirteen liters of puppies, all the time living in a cage with little socialization. When the rescue organization obtained her she was overweight and mangy.
She was placed with a foster family, who named her Shika, which means Deer Face. She had five other dogs in the house, and two people who lovingly started the process of her adjustment to her new life. She had no understanding of the basic principles most dogs know. She was used to fences and living untouched. Spatial relations were a mystery. She would sneak all the dog toys into her kennel and hide them. Her tail was never up. She would follow at the back of the group when treats were given.
After a year, she learned to lean into a caressing hand. She started to learn how to play. She was adopted out, but the people soon returned her because she would not bond with the man in the family. Men frightened her, as did loud noises and thunderstorms. Her Foster Family doubted she would ever be adoptable.
After we lost our Kili, who was a member of our family for nearly 17 years, we waited three years before we decided to find another dog. We wanted an older dog, and wanted to adopt a dog who had not had the charmed life that Kili had enjoyed. We wanted to 'give back' to the breed.
I searched online and when we saw Suki's photo decided she was meant for us. The Foster Family warned us that she was a special needs case but we knew we had love and patience.
This is how she looked when she came to us. She preferred corners and hardly came out, and had little understanding of our attentions. She had an almost feral look in her eyes. The changes sent her backwards for a while. She was easily frightened, and crawled under a bed during a storms.
We named her Suki, or Beloved. My laundry room was in the basement, as well as my quilt room. Suki became very reliant on my presence and did not like to be separated from me. One day she taught herself to go and down the stairs! She was so amazed at herself that for several days she went up and down the steps over and over.
We decided to foster another rescue dog that was more adjusted to humans, hoping the friendship would help Suki. We got Kara in January. He was brought to Michigan from Missouri. When he arrived he was in terrible shape, thin and dirty, with an ear infection and raw legs where he had bit at himself during allergy season. Still, he wagged his tail at us and he was loving and patient.
We spent $500 in tests and vet fees to get him healthy. Kara, who we called Bo, was a feisty and self assured dog who had spent nine years in a puppy mill. He had been in a cage for two weeks after his rescue, and we had to teach him everything, from house training to coming back in after we let him out at night. He would make a nest in the snow under a bush! When he realized he could sleep indoors in a warm bed, he was eager to rush back in! He loved to sit on our lap, or cuddled next to us. Kara was a runner, and could dig under or climb the chain link fence. Once he manage to get loose during a rain storm. We found him blocks down a busy road, but happily he jumped into the car when we called him.
We moved and the new house had a large walk in closet. We had thrown a lot of blankets in there and Kara found it and the dogs made it their kennel!We let them have the space. Kara and Suki loved to run in the large field behind the house, and Suki learned finally, to play.Their best friend was Jack, and every day the dogs met up for a play time.
Everyone loved Kara and wanted to adopt him. Literally, everyone. But he was in the last stages of kidney failure. Sadly after nine months we had to let him take that walk over the Rainbow Bridge. It was devastating. Suki was so horrified by Kara's decline, and so depressed that she had lost her buddy. So we adopted a dog through Safe Harbor Rescue in Vermillion, Ohio. We named her Kamikaze, Divine Wind, and the name fits her perfectly! She was in very good condition, but had recurrent cysts from standing on a wire cage all her life.
Kamikaze is quite possessive and pushy, and mostly Suki just lets her have her way. But after a year and a half together they are quite good friends.
Suki often comes up to me for attention now. After being fed, or walked, or after a good play she loves to sit and have me scratch her. I often have two dogs at my feet waiting for some loving! Now Suki has a big smile on her face and her tail is held high and often wags. She sleeps through storms, and could care less when strangers are in the house. Suki is now a "Real Dog".