Kaiken: Taiga

This page is used for posting the progress of Taiga's growing up on an irregular basis.  Everyday occurences are posted under the category "Kai Ken Diary".

If you have any queries to the owner of Fujikami Kennel or his fellow breeders, I should be happy to relay your messages.  You can contact me at:  suifuyo@power.odn.ne.jp



6 May 2016

Taiga is now 3 years old.  She is a little on the heavy side.  She exercises for one hour each in the morning and in the evening.  Yet, she cannot shed her fat off.  Going on a diet myself is far easier than Taiga trying to slim.

 During the summer months, we get up early reaching the park by 6:00 a.m., and we have the park to ourselves.
 She is a very happy dog at any rate.


5 April 2016

The cherry blossom season is nearly over.  This year, we have been plagued by bad weather, but today the sun was out for the first time in nearly 2 weeks.  So, Taiga and I took full advantage of it.

As it was a weekday, there were fewer people in the park than at the weekend, even though it was lunch time.

Taiga and I retraced the route we usually take during morning walks.
This part of the park was quieter with hardly anybody walking, but quite noisy in another sense due to the mating calls of Japanese bush warblers.

Eventually we reached our favourite field.
 We spend a lot of time in this field every morning and evening.

 The ground is covered with fallen petals.

After leaving the field, we stopped at the traffic lights.  While waiting, we took some pictures under this tree.

On our way home, we walked along the Shakujii River.

The dry part of the riverbed is covered with fallen petals.

We bought an icecream and shared it.  Everytime we had a picnic lunch in the park during the cherry blossom season, we had an icecream on our way home.  What's more, Taiga absolutely refused to eat dog food in the park and insisted on eating the same thing as my food.  As a result, she put on quite a lot of weight during the last few weeks.  Since a heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow, which means that the cherry blossoms will be more or less gone, Taiga's binge days will also come to an end.

30 November 2015

Taiga is now 2 1/2 years old.  She gets on extremely well with all dogs

great and


As the weather is pleasant this time of the year, we went for a long walk in the park.
 The ginkgo trees are turning yellow.
We ran into English bull terriers, Milou and Ronnie.
It has been more than 6 months since we last met and Milou says "hello" to Taiga.
A pitbull terrier mix named Amber approaches Taiga, sizing her up.
Suddenly, she starts checking Taiga.

We continued our walk to go to another part of the park, across the river.
 As it was a pleasant bridge to cross, we paused and took pictures.  Taiga is currently rather plump - she weighs 22 kg.  She is quite large for a female Kai measuring nearly 50 cm to the shoulder, but a bit of dieting wouldn't do any harm.
We reached the wooded area of the park, where there is a reconstructed prehistoric dwelling. 
As Taiga is an Akatora (red-brindle) Kai, she blends into the background with dry leaves.
She spots a dog coming this way.
The dog and its owner pass near us and Taiga stretches herself, yearning to play with him.  Now she looks a little slimmer.
The dog and its owner are gone.

21 May 2015

Taiga is now 2 years old.  She has grown into a very relaxed dog with a happy temperament.  She is extremely friendly with both dogs and strangers and in this sense, she does not conform to the traditional image of the Kai. 

She measures about 50cm from the floor to her shoulder.  She weighs about 20kg.  She is large-boned and her stature is quite large for a female Kai, but people keep telling me that she needs to slim down.
A very happy Kai Ken

are fortunate to have a huge park nearby.  We spend one hour each in the morning and late afternoon in the park.  As this part of the park lacks such amenities as drinking water or toilets, it is often deserted and Taiga and I can have the whole field to ourselves.

Last night, we had a heavy rain due to the passing of a small tyhoon.  Once a tyhoon passes over, we typically get a clear blue sky.  It was one of such mornings today.  The breeze was cool but the sun was strong and the whole atmosphere was pleasant.

When Taiga is happy, she jumps about like a fox.

She also loves attacking a stick.  She will hold it in her mouth and shake it around, and then settles down to nibbling it.

After a small break (releaving herself), she is ready to run about again.



31 March 2015

It is the cherry blossom season in Japan.  This time last year, Taiga was having an operation and we could not enjoy the blossoms.  Therefore, we are making the most of it this year.

The cherry trees come in full bloom as the temperature rises, and it reached 23-24 degrees centigrade yesterday and today with no cloud in the sky -  a perfect environment.

It is the school holiday season now and people are enjoying picnic lunches on the lawn.

Not just kids, but people of all ages enjoying the cherry blossoms.

I took Taiga to a quieter field of the park to sit down and enjoy the warm air.  In fact, this is the field Taiga and I come every evening for a run.

Kai ken and cherry tree go very well together

Now, we can get down to sharing the icecream.

We will come back in the evening for a run.



26 November 2014

Taiga is now 1 1/2 years old.  Although Japanese breeds tend to become aloof towards strangers once they reach the age of one year old, Taiga does not seem to know the rule - she is as much a social butterfly with other dogs and strangers as she was when she was a puppy of under 12 months old.

At home, she would like to be the boss, if only I let her.  She loves to occupy the spot where I sit, once I go out of her sight.  She is not allowed to get on the couch, but she jumps on to the spot I normally occupy, as soon as I am out of the living room.  I can detect this because I keep the surface of the towel blanket smooth which covers the couch.  Everytime I return to the living room, I can see that the towel blanket has been disturbed and even dirty from her paws, while she looks me up like this↓ with her innocent eyes.  She thinks she has succeeded in fooling me.  How she must move noiselessly between the couch and the floor, just like a ninja.
Kai ken trying to look innocent

The last 2 days have been wet and windy, and Taiga has had to amuse hereself indoors.

Taiga has a thin face but she has a lot of muscle and loose skin acound her neck, with the result that she often appears to have a large face.

As I did not play with her, being too busy watching the TV, she curled up like a cat.

Eventually she fell asleep, probably induced by the warm floor.


23 June 2014

Taiga came to me a year ago today when she was only 7 weeks old.  She has grown into a dog- and people-friendly Kai ken.  Strangers who meet her for the first time are always surprised to see how friendly she is and say "I never thought I could stroke a Kai like this".  I hope Taiga is helping to change people's perception that Kais are aggressive and unfriendly.

We took an evening stroll at the park.

She spots another Kai in the distance.

This is "Nene".  She is a black brindle Kai, and lives near the park with her mate "Sasuke", another black brindle.  They were brought up without being socialised with other dogs and they used to growl at Taiga when she was an over-zealous puppy.  Eventually, they got tired of growling at her, it seems.

Nene is a very nervous individual, and her mate not being present does not help.  She observes Taiga greeting her owner with her ears pushed back.

Then, Taiga tries to approach her.....

She takes a submissive posture and crowls towards Nene......

When Nene gives her a dirty look, Taiga shakes her body like a puppy, wagging her tail furiously.

As both of them calmed down, I asked the owner of Nene to take a picture of us.

Taiga is still wagging her tail.



3 April 2014

At nearly 11 months old, Taiga underwent an operation for sterilisation on 31st March.  Everything went well and, yesterday, she came home after staying in the hospital for 2 days.

Taiga resting in the livingroom
As she is well enough to go out, we are back to our normal routine in terms of her toiletry requirements, rain or shine.   So, I dressed her in her raincoat in order to protect the bandage from the rain, and off we went to the park.

Unfortunately, it is a rainy day today and the cherry blossoms are falling.

Up until yesterday, there were lots of people in the park enjoying picnic lunches under the cherry trees.  Today, we had the park to ourselves.

On our way home, over a bridge.


6 February 2014

Taiga is now 9 months old.  I have been told by many people that she is a little on the fat side.  She gets more than 3 hours' exercise every day - 1 1/2 hours in the morning and another 1 1/2 hours in the evening.  Additionally, we go out before lunch time and just before going to bed so that she can relieve herself.  For her to be fat, I must have overfed her.  Therefore, I have started to reduce the amount of food gradually. 

She is quite large for a female Kai, measuring about 50 cm at the shoulder.  I have not weighed her recently, but I am sure that she weighs more than 18 kg  I shall know the precise figure when I take her for a pre-operation examination in March.  She had her first heat in December last year and now she has become very stable.

  The coat colour looks like this.  Seeing her from above, I admit that she has no waist.
 Taiga has grown to be a dog- and people-friendly Kai.  The established image of a Kai ken being that of  an unfriendly dog towards any dogs or anyone other than its master, people are always surprised to see Taiga' behaviour.

At the park, Taiga spotted her favourite lady, the owner of a Corgi, and rushed to her.
 However, her Corgi does not like this and barks at Taiga. 
 Both dogs try to cling to her.  As Taiga was far too excited, the lady gives her a slight kick in the chest.  NB: She is not being mean - it is an extremely light touch and works effectively.
As a reward to both dogs for calming down, the lady gives them a treat.
 After this, the two dogs played with each other.  Unfortunately, due to my carelessness, I was swept off my feat when Taiga ran around me with her rope catching my legs, and I landed on my back side - my pelvis still hurts.  This is the second injury in 2 weeks and I had better learn to pay more attention when Taiga gets excited.


16 November 2013

Taiga is looking increasingly grown up.  Mentally, too, she is becoming more mature and independent.  When I am busy with my work, she often goes into the room of her own choice and relaxes there for hours.

As the weather has turned cold, her currently favourite rooms are the bedroom and the birds' room, where it is always ketp warm with panel heaters.  Here, in the photos below, she is warming herself lying next to the mini heater under the desk.

Kai Ken at 6 months old


7 November 2013

Taiga became 6 months old as of yesterday!

Today, as I was free of work, I took her to the clinic for a rabies shot.  When we left home, she was so excited to go for a walk in the misty rain but, as soon as we reached the door of the clinic, she put up a hell of a fight. 

With the help of an employee of the clinic, we somehow got her inside.  She was so nervous that I believe she hardly knew when she actually got the shot.  She was more bothered with nail clipping and ear cleaning, as well as .......squeezing the anal gland.

a nervous Kai Ken

Taiga nearly in tears?

The doctor was very impressed with Taiga's growth. 
Today, she weighed 16 kg!  This, at 6 months old, and for a female, is quite impressive, I think.  According to the owner of Fujikami Kennel, Taiga's face and physique are exactly those of her dad, although her coat colour comes from her mom.

After the visit to the clinic, we went to the usual park.  As the rain had just ceased, we had the whole park to ourselves.
 Taiga ran freely since there was no other dog to play with.

But she always hurries back to me for a good rub.


6 August 2013

Taiga is now 3 months old.  The pace of her growth has been such that even the breeder is surprised.  When she went to the vet's for her first vaccination on 1st July, she weighed 3.7 kg and, by the time she went for her second vaccination on 31st July, she weighed 7.1 kg.  The puppy that the breeder decided to keep in his kennel, I am told, weighed about 5.5 kg at around the same time.

Mentally, too, she has grown a lot in just over a month since she came to me.  She plays in the park with any dogs that she spots.  Unfortunately, most of them are more than 5 years old and their energy levels are far too low for Taiga.  She also loves people, since they are so kind to her, AND, because she does not get told off as she does at home for her mischiefs.

With her growing independence, a 10-metre rope is not long enough for her to run about in the park.  She runs away from me like a mad dog, and then turns back and waits for me rather mockingly.

A new friend (victim)?

Greeting by smelling each other.

 Then, the Shiba mix gets bored, as he is nearly 10 years old and finds Tiger too much of a bother.

 Taiga loves the camera.  The moment I switch the camera on, she gets excited.  However, the camera does not seem to love her - most of the photos I take are blurred and horrible.  The rug in the living room has taken some beating - peeing and nibbling by Taiga. 

 At 3 months old and weighing more than 7 kg, I would like her to climb (and come down) the stairs on her own - I still have to carry her in my arms.  If I leave her on the stairs, as in the photo below, she will stay there for hours.  When I finally give up and pick her up, the surface of the step is covered with the sweat from her paws.


23 June 2013

Taiga has arrived home.  At 7 weeks old, it seemed a week too early to collect a puppy.  However, I was told that all other owners were coming to get their puppy this weekend, and I could not resist the temptation.  Accordingly, I made the 6 1/2 hour journey to and from the Fujikami Kennel.  By the time we got home, we were both exhausted and I fed her and let her sleep in her new cage which I placed next to my bed.  I am hoping that, sleeping next to me, she will not keep me awake by whimpering all night. 

After waking up, she played a little.

What she wanted the most was to lie down on the cool floor, so I left her sleeping again.


9 June 2013

The puppies are now 5 weeks old and the person who had the first choice has finally chosen his.  Accordingly, the owner of Fujikami Kennel made another visit today to Saito Kennel and sent me the following photos of Taiga (a.k.a. Puppy A in the posting of  27 May 2013).  I shall be collecting her from Fujikami Kennel at the end of this month.  Need I say how excited I am?

Taiga   9 June 2013


27 May 2013

It has been 3 weeks since the puppies were born, and their eyes have started to open.  The owner of Fujikami Kennel (who is acting as my go-between) made a visit to Saito Kennel this morning and sent me photos of the akatora girls.  To my frustration, I still do not know which one of these two puppies is going to be my companion for the next 15 years or so - the person who made a reservation ahead of me has not made up his mind yet.  However, I must not complain since he is a breeder who plays an important role in the preservation of the Kai breed, as well as showing his dogs in the Kaiken Aigokai Dog Shows. 

Thus, for the moment, I have the pictures of the two puppies to look at - Puppy A and Puppy B - and I am trying very hard not to start bonding with either of them yet.

From the pictures below, Puppy A's coat seems lighter.  This is because of the camera flash.  Puppy B's photos were taken without the use of the flash.  It is also true that a Kai's coat colour can look very different depending on the natural light (sunny, cloudy, etc).

Puppy A

Puppy B


11 May 2013

I would like to express my gratitude towards the countless people, past and present, who have been involved in maintaining the Kai Ken breed.  It is thanks to them that I will be able to obtain my Kai puppy, Taiga.  In particular, I am grateful to the owner of Fujikami Kennel (http://fuji-kami.com/koinu.html), who has acted as a go-between on my behalf, regarding Shinko's forthcoming litter.  I am equally grateful to the owner of Saito Kennel who changed his plan to keep a female akatora puppy, so that I could have one.  (Originally, I was the 3rd in line waiting for a female akatora puppy but, on this occasion, only 2 akatora females were born, which would have meant that I could not get one.)

About Taiga:
Taiga is one of the puppies born to Shinko and Eishin.  I wanted a red brindle (akatora) female Kai and, after searching on the internet, I found that Shinko had a history of giving birth to litters that were predominantly akatora and chutora (brown brindle) puppies.  She had given birth 3 times in the past, each time producing 6 healthy pups, and the previous occasion was in February 2012.  Therefore, by the time she had Taiga and her siblings in May 2013, she had enjoyed nearly 15 months of recovery time.  On this occasion, Shinko gave birth to: 2 akatora boys, 2 akatora girls, and 2 chutora girls.

                                                                                    Eishin(榛名の英心, (sire)
Shinko(妃備真紅), (with her previous litter)          owned by Kawashimaso Kennel
owned by Saito Kennel                                         128th Kaiken Aigokai Dog Show Grand Champion

Taiga (大賀)
female, born on 6th May 2013 (photo, 8th May)
Which one of these two?  I do not know yet - the person who made a reservation ahead of me will have the first choice.   Even though only a few days old, they already have clear stripes.

Before paring Shinko with Eishin, the sire was always Tenshin(神流の天真), a dog owned by Fujikami Kennel, and the Grand Champion of the 127th Kaiken Aigokai Dog Show.  Eishin and Tenshin share the same blood line - Eishin's father and Tenshin's grandfather is Kokushin(甲斐黒信), the Grand Champion of  the 117th Kaiken Aigokai Dog Show.

Kokushin(甲斐黒信), Taiga's grandfather
117th Kaiken Aigokai Dog Show Grand Champion

These kennels, Fujikami, Saito, and Kawashimaso, occupy prominent positions in the world of Kaiken dog shows, with a lot of prize-winning offsprings and blood relatives.  They have a group of friendly kennels with whom they maintain superior strains, at the same time ensuring a sufficiently large gene pool.

Taiga will live her life as my companion, with no plans to enter dog shows.  Moreover, she is destined for sterilisation.  This is because I do not believe an amateur like me should try breeding dogs, even though Taiga's pedigree would qualify her to be a desirable dam.  I made my intentions perfectly clear when I first rang Fujikami Kennel, and the owner was quite understanding saying that it was all up to me.  Taiga will be joining me at the end of June 2013.  In raising her, I am going to follow the teachings of Cesar Millan, so that I may be able to recognise signs of unwanted behaviour for a family dog.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

NB: The following is a translation of various pieces of information generally available in Japan. It is not based on my own knowledge or experience.

About the Kai:

The Kai originates from regions in the modern day Yamanashi Prefecture, roughly north-west of Mount Fuji.  Kais are extremely hardy dogs and they were traditionally used for hunting wild boars and deer.  The rugged terrain and barran land resulted in relative isolation from the rest of the country, which was condusive to the development of a unique breed.  It is said that Kais prefer the company of their own kind.

Kais are still used for hunting but the style has changed slightly.  In old days, it was one hunter and one dog (一銃一狗).  Nowdays, the hunter usually takes a few dogs with him.  However, the role the dogs play remains the same - the dogs are required to find, chase and keep the prey at bay, while waiting for the master to come and finish the animal with his gun.  The Kai is extremely faithful to its owner and the clishé used is "One master for its entire life (一代一主)".  They are also very intelligent and alert, and they are suspicious of strangers which makes them good watch dogs.  More recently, some Kais are being trained as search-and-rescue dogs for natural disasters.

Regarding the physique, the male measures around 50cm and the female around 45cm to the shoulder.  They are generally smaller than Kishus but larger than Shibas.  The coat comes in 3 types: black brindles (kurotora), brown brindles (chutora) and red brindles (akatora).  Akatora Kais are rare, and akatora females are even rarer.  Another point of note is that many Kais have dark stains on their tongues - in some cases, the whole tongue may be dark. 

In the last few decades, Western breeds have become extremely popular at the expense of the indigenous breeds.  Moreover, of the 6 Japanese breeds designated as Japan's Natural Monuments, the Kai's population size is said to be the smallest.