Thursday, April 23, 2009

Per, my new Shiba puppy

Finally, I'm going to tell you all about my new Shiba (Inu) puppy, Per.
First things first: the Shiba Inu is a Japanese breed. The origin of "Shiba" is a little sketchy, but "Inu" just means dog, so I usually refer to them as simply "Shibas." Per, our puppy's name, is Norwegian for the name "Peter." Since I picked the breed, Mitch picked the name.

So why did I pick a Shiba? Well, Shibas are an independent breed. Males, especially, are similar to cats, in that they're typically pretty content with being left alone--even when people are around. They're also very loyal--which doesn't mean what you probably think it does. When looking for a specific breed, if the description says "loyal," that means your dog won't necessarily get as much joy out of being with people that aren't you.

The best illustration I can think of is the story of Hachikou, an Akita (a sort-of-not-really-but-sort-of relative of the Shiba), who waited for his person to come back from work every day at the Shibuya train station. Well, one day, Hachikou's person didn't come back--he'd died at the university earlier that day. But Hachikou, for the remaining 10 years of his life, came back to the train station every evening to wait for his person.
So revered is Hachikou's story in Japan that not only is he commemorated with a now-very-famous statue, he was also, upon his death, preserved (that is, "stuffed and mounted") and is currently exhibited at Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science.

Hachikou's statue at Shibuya Station, a popular meeting ground

Hachikou's remains

Anyway, Shibas typically display that same type of loyalty. Pretty neat, huh?

And here's the story of Per. So far, anyway.

Mitch and I drove to a shipping place by the airport to pick Per up from his breeder, a woman named Marj who operates a ranch out in Maynard, Minnesota. On the ride home, Per pooped in my car. Thus began my calling him a "turd."

Per's first picture (with us)--in my car, preparing for the drive back home to Minneapolis.

Well, since then, Per's become a hit. He's way too adorable for people to not lavish love all over him. He likes when I make this weird "Rawr rawr rawr" noise, and will chase me/make me chase him around our apartment. He likes to lick and tug on hair. He doesn't mind sleeping on laps, but prefers to sleep near-but-not-on people. He nibbles and hits (yes, hits) other dogs, and probably eats too much (I've noticed his back end is getting a little big).

Me and Mitch with Per in the Augsburg Admissions Office.

Per chewing on his "bear," which we threw away yesterday because it smelled like pee.

Yet, I can't help but get annoyed with him. What you might not know, looking at him, is that he still pees all over the house (and himself), and loves to chew on my DDR pads, the couch, and the carpet. So many college friends have expressed their jealousy at my having a puppy--but having a puppy is really, really tough work. Especially since we got him when the school semester started winding down--I mean, I don't just have finals and work to worry about--I also have a puppy. He's like a human baby, except he doesn't wear diapers, and can be left alone for short periods of time.

Of course, I love him. I grew up with animals--and not just the occasional gold fish--in my short life, I've had seven dogs, two horses, a turtle, and literally more bunnies and cats than I can remember to count. And so when I went off to college and was totally devoid of furry-friend contact, it really bothered me. So having a pet again is pretty neat, and I'm lucky to be able to afford (although, honestly, just barely) a puppy, an apartment, and random living expenses.

But it's a lot of work. So if I ever turn down an invitation to hang out or go out somewhere, or if I don't get my end of a group project done on time, please please please have mercy on me: I have a furry baby at home.

Per in his sweater. We got it for him because he shivers when we take him outside on cold nights.

Per sleeping on his bear, against my couch pillow (which he isn't allowed to do, except for this picture, I guess).

Per will become a frequent character in my entries from now on, so if nothing else, read No, I Am a Cat for the cute puppy pictures.


corywins said...

So cute!

However, the statue is at Shibuya because that's where the dog used to wait, not Ueno. Coincidentally, his master was one, Professor Ueno.

Mnemosyne said...

Argh! That helps the story make much more sense...
I'll change it now!