Whole Again?

There’s a question mark at the end of the title because it’s still early days, but the family is whole again.

In early 2017 I stumbled upon a Shiba rescue website while I was looking for a friend for Daisy. I figured she’d want another Shiba friend, having lost Lilo in December. The site was for Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue (MSIR), and the URL is, appropriately enough, www.shibarescue.org. I checked every month, but at the time we didn’t really have the extra time to dedicate to another dog, especially one needs as unique as a Shiba Inu.

The “extra time” item was resolved in early 2020 by complete chance. A certain global event occurred that ended up forcing us to stay at home a lot more than ever before, and in July of 2020, Daisy was joined by the polar opposite of a Shiba Inu, who we named Luna. Based on her genetic test results, she’s a Poodle/Labrador mix, but looks mostly Lab. Frankly the only thing Poodle about her is the length of her legs and, maybe, the shape of her snout. I’ve mentioned before that this invigorated Daisy like nobody’s business; it was clear that a friend was was exactly what she needed.

Daisy was an integral part of our family and the house truly felt empty without her. Luna enjoyed the extra attention, but it was clear that she was lonely. I looked at the camera in the living room every now and then, and she just sat on the sofa staring out the window the way Daisy did in her younger days. So, it was back to the Shiba Rescue website. Julie had the same idea, and when she saw a picture on MSIR’s Facebook page, she knew Luna wouldn’t be lonely for long.

Every rescue organization has their own vetting process, and passing Chicagoland Lab Rescue’s for Luna didn’t guarantee we’d make it through MSIR’s. However, given the 14 years of experience with Daisy and the additional years with Lilo, we passed theirs too. One thing led to another and, earlier this week, we headed up to Minneapolis to pay this Shiba a visit in her foster home. By “we” I mean the five of us: Julie, the kids, Luna, and me. I think things went well — I don’t usually have a feel for these things — but given the first line of this post you can probably put two and two together.

We returned from Minneapolis with a sixth passenger in the Honda of Fury: a small, young female Shiba named Kasha. She’s not puppy young, coming in at 1.5 to 2 years old, but she’s much smaller than one would expect of a Shiba this age. She’s quite timid, preferring to stay in a corner amongst her toys rather than run jump up on the furniture and gnaw at shoes. However, she and Luna get along quite well, with Luna occasionally lying down in front of her as if to protect her from some threat across the room.

From what we understand she was rescued from a breeder that was “getting rid of dogs they couldn’t use anymore.” The phrasing of that sentence kind of makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. What does “getting rid of” mean? MSIR doesn’t buy Shibas from breeders or at auction, and I have evidence to back that up for Kasha’s specific case, so “getting rid of” clearly doesn’t mean “selling.” Does that mean they were killing the dogs they couldn’t use anymore? Abandoning them on the side of the road? Putting them in a box and leaving them behind a Home Depot or something? Honestly, I don’t want to speculate. It actually makes me angry to think that someone would do something like that to an animal, especially one like this.

Kasha’s coat is best described as “saddleback,” which doesn’t conform to the breed standard. Is that why they “couldn’t use” her? That’s not what a responsible Shiba Inu breeder would do. Quite honestly, she looks like someone took a double-exposure photo of Lilo and Daisy. That doesn’t mean she deserves to be gotten rid of, though; she still deserves to live with a family that loves her for what she is, and that is a Shiba Inu. Cat software running on dog hardware. A squirmy escape artist that will love you, but be extremely subtle about it so you don’t notice because being obvious doesn’t look cool.

So now, Kasha’s lying on the rug, biting her crinkly toys every now and then. She’s still getting used to her new surroundings, and it’ll take a while for her to fully open up. But, she’s a part of the family now, and we’ll help her however we can. We wouldn’t have submitted the application if we weren’t ready for it.