After losing a very special friend of almost 13 years in June of 2003, we decided NO MORE. But our love for dogs and missing the companionship of a special friend overcame our desire to be alone. We truly weighed the pros and cons, we are now retired and can travel at a moment's notice, having another pet would mean that our carefree spirit would be lessened by responsibility, vet bills, training, and just plain dedication to giving any new friend only the best we could give.
I was really lonesome one day, missing my Husky-Lab, and went on the Net just curious as to what was available in the area where we live. Along with our local humane society was a listing for specific breeds and rescues. Since we had always had a dog, we really didn't know anything about rescues. Looking at the various breeds, I came across the Akita and saw one that looked almost like our beloved Kody. Had NO idea what an Akita was, but started reading.
The Akita Rescue of Florida is just plain fantastic. A group of caring people that absolutely adore these noble dogs. Not just anyone can adopt an Akita, YOU are selected, you do not select THEM! So we felt rather happy that we would be considered. A house visit is required to show that you will be a responsible owner, then these amazing people try to match you with their adoptees, and believe me this is not an easy chore.
As much as I liked the one I saw on the Net, I knew he was not for me and abandoned the quest and forgot all about getting an Akita. We went on a short vacation, and when we came home there was a message on our answering machine that there was a 3 year old male, Tika, who had lived with seniors and was used to children that we might be interested in. That was it. He was sociable and had been around kids with no problem. He also was going to be euthanized the next day, as most shelters do not keep Akitas. We just decided to give it a try, and on August 16,2003 we were introduced to our new friend, TIKO. (Surprise 1, name was not what we thought, and Surprise 2 was that he was between two and three years old, not a definite three.)
To this day, I believe an Akita angel was looking over Tiko and us. We had arranged to meet at a turnpike stop so we wouldn't have to drive the long distance. When Marsha, at the Florida Akita Rescue, started walking across the parking lot there were many people walking around. Tiko had no idea WE were going to be his human parents. But when he saw us, he lunged towards us, practically dragging poor Marsha across the lot, his tail wagging a mile a minute. It was as though he KNEW that we were going to take him to his forever home with us. It was a special moment for all of us!
He is a joy! He passed each and every test we gave him with an A+. Akitas are definitely not for everyone, and I doubt that we would have ever considered one if we were still working. They need LOTS of time, patience and love, which is a given. I found, that Tiko is extremely independent, loves his stuffies, dances and prances around, does a "wiggle butt" dance and had some training. To re-enforce the training he had, we hired a trainer from a local company, Canine Counselors. They were fantastic!
Tiko finished his obedience training course and did very well for an Akita. Akitas usually are difficult to train, they get bored easily because they are too smart for their britches. Now at least we have a comparatively decently mannered handsome boy. At first he acted like a defiant teen at times. He could be so loving and giving, then be completely defiant and testy. I can't count the number of pillows and comforters he destroyed. We replaced two screens and one glass pane in our front room. Seems as though Tiko saw a cat crossing the yard, his turf, and went ballastic. Tried to get at him through the front window. Luckilly, I caught him with his head stuck out the window before he could do any damage to himself.
Tiko loves people, but is definitely animal aggressive. So we try to keep him away from all other animals. He is certainly very protective of us and when my husband leaves the house for any reason, Tiko will come right by my side and stay near me. The backyard is "his"....at least he thinks it is. Anyone that goes in the backyard goes at their own risk and we've posted signs all over the fence.
This was taken August, 2003, when we first got him. He has grown taller and put on more weight since then. He is a BIG boy!
This is called a "play bow"...he's telling you to come and play with him!
Tiko now weighs over 100 pounds, up from the 85 pounds when we got him. He still hates other animals, unfortunately, don't think we'll ever change that. But his eating habits have really changed! He will eat most anything now, still fussy about things, but on the whole, Tiko has decided "people food" really is good stuff! But he sure loves his fish and we give him salmon and tuna along with salmon flavored kibble. He will even eat a treat now and again. He has calmed down, but still has him moments of chewing up pillows, eating my hubby's hats (one was a rare baseball cap). I find more and more amazing things about him. He truly is cat like, and cleans himself like a cat, stalks like a cat, and is as independent and aloof as a cat. Each day he teaches us what loyalty and love is. Akita, an amazing breed.
Tiko has been such a good companion. He still does not care for other animals, but we control it, and he will tolerate them. He even put up with one in HIS house during Hurricane Wilma. My daughter brought down her small dog in a crate. Her dog was crated at all times, we did not allow them to be together unleashed. So we have come a long way. He also is very good at the vet's office with all the cats and other dogs wandering around. But I think this is because he does not care to be there at all, and it is not HIS territory.
Tiko is now considered a mature adult, he is getting white hair around his muzzle, he still is energetic, but is very content to just chill for long period of times. He definitely shows his Akita traits, sometimes he'll eat sometimes he won't. We've learned to live with that, and know he will eat when he gets hungry. Of course he ALWAYS has room for people food! LOL He definitely is our protector, and will not let anyone get between him and us if he doesn't know the person.
Tiko is still doing ok, except for his allergies and skin problems which periodic medicated baths help, and is very content to just go with the flow. We took him to Cape Coral for Christmas and he was a big hit there, everyone loved him. And he got to see his buddy, Brady, whom he loves.
Another year has gone by, and Tiko remains our love. Still with the skin problems. Once again we spent Christmas with Tim and his family and he got to bond once again with his buddy, Brady.
Below picture taken March 2012
Tiko has slowed down, has trouble getting up. He has bad hips, and he has arthritis. Doesn't hear as well as he used to. We are growing old with him. Mostly, his favorite activity is naptime! He can still climb up on the bed in the guestroom at night. Amazingly, he never winces, never whimpers or cries. Very stoic, so I can never judge if he is in pain. He is the love of our lives right now and we are enjoying him for as along as we can.
Tiko went to the bridge 4 January 2013. His mind was still alert and he was still eating and drinking like a horse, but his problem was mobility. We would have to put our hands under his belly and lift him up so he could get his back legs to hold him. He passed peacefully being held by a tech he absolutely adored, Luis, and Luis adored him. There really are no words that can describe the loss of a loved furbaby.
Godspeed dear Tiko!
We love him and have grown to love the Akita breed!
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