Another trick Ponta is very good at—though he won’t close his eyes…
Ponta learned how to stand on his back legs some time ago; however, Sachi taught him to also wave his paws in front of him when he does so.
Poor Ponta is terrified of the vet. He wasn’t like this until he was neutered, so I’m guessing he kinda figured out what was going on there. Ever since, he gets the shakes really badly.
Interestingly, it is a scent-triggered response, and not visual or locational. We’ll go to the vet’s building, which he’s been to many times before, and he’ll be all excited, as if this is a great place to go. He’ll be anxious to get inside; once I open the door, he rushes in.
And then the smell hits him, and suddenly he’s acting like, “THIS PLACE?? NOOOOO!!!!! LET ME OUT OF HERE!!! I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS THIS PLACE!!!” Although that is pretty subdued, you can absolutely see it’s his attitude. He’s a good trouper, so when we pick him up and try to soothe him, he’ll sit still and be a good doggie, and he’ll even calm down a bit.
However, he hates the exam table. When he gets up there. he loses whatever calm he’s garnered, and just begins panting and shaking really badly again. With soothing and encouragement, he’ll calm somewhat, but never gets comfortable until we get him off the table.
Ponta got bit today. We took him to the hospital and had him treated. The wound was about an inch long and required four stitches.
We usually take Ponta to Koganei Park, a large park to the south of here. It has a three-pen dog run, big with good trees and running area. The pens are separated into large dogs, small dogs, and an exercise area for retrieving and so forth.
Ponta is small, but too big for the small-dog pen, so we always take him to the large pen. He is aloof from other dogs, but plays with partners that are usually his own size. Today, for example, there was a Shiba mix named “Penne” that Ponta got along great with.
Sometimes there are aggressive dogs. The first time we came, a Shiba mix named Sakura kept bullying Ponta, but he got over it. Several months ago, a chocolate lab named Cocoa was very aggressive with Ponta, to the point where I had to pick Ponta up to protect him.
Today, there were two white shepherds, dogs we had seen at the run several times before. They are sizably bigger than most of the dogs in the run, and tend to be pretty forward—not so much aggressive as they simply are big and imposing. Ponta got along OK with them, at least up until today.
Below is an image of the white shepherds and their owner.
Today, we were at the run, and everything was okay. At one point, a few new dogs, a pair of border collies, were introduced. Ponta didn’t seem to like them very much, but had approached one. He growled and barked a bit, and the other dog growled and barked back—nothing really unusual, but enough for me to get up and stand over them, ready to pull Ponta out should things get dicey.
Just as Ponta and the collie had a bark-and-stance, with one other dog close in, one of the white shepherds jumped into them, and it devolved into what I suppose you could call a scrum—all dogs at close quarters, barking and making such close contact that there was no space between any of them. Almost immediately, within a second or so, I saw the shepherd bite into Ponta’s neck, and had no doubt that this was way more serious than usual. Ponta yelped and more or less screamed, and it was clear that his teeth were deep into Ponta’s neck.
Within a few seconds, the scrum separated, but the shepherd kept coming after Ponta. Ponta was unmistakably scared and defensive, trying to get away. I placed my body between them—the shepherd did not seem like he was dangerous to humans—and then I picked Ponta up. At that point, I was not sure that Ponta’s skin had been broken, but I was fairly sure he had taken some damage, even if just a bruise.
But here was where I became livid at the owner of the shepherds: the jerk didn’t do anything about his dogs. He hadn’t when the one got out of hand, and he didn’t when they started harassing me. I was holding Ponta up, but the shepherd was still going after him, jumping up next to me, barking, and scaring the crap out of Ponta.
And the ass who owned the dog still did nothing.
After 5 or 10 seconds, I got Ponta away from that area and the shepherd lost interest. The owner still took zero interest, though Ponta was clearly hurt. I probed Ponta’s neck and was shocked when I felt my finger go through a puncture in Ponta’s skin—easily big enough that it was clear the wound was bigger than my finger. It felt warn and wet, and when I drew my finger out, it had blood on it.
I turned to the owner, who was peering at us, and I said, rather clearly, “Ana ga aru! Chi ga deru!” (“There’s a hole! Blood is coming out!”)
The owner did not react, but simply turned and walked away, apparently unconcerned.
Ponta was a wreck; he was whimpering and his tail was down, and when I held him his heart was beating like crazy and he was shaking awfully hard. Sick with worry, we got Ponta out of there, back to the car, and took him to the nearest animal hospital. Our usual doctor’s office is closed from 12:30 to 4:00 pm; by the time we got out of the park, it was almost 3:00. The vet’s office answered, and Sachi explained Ponta’s injury while I drove—but they refused to treat Ponta until their break was over.
So instead, we drove to a hospital a bit farther from our house (but very close to our old apartment) where they opened up at 3:30, which was five minutes or so after we arrived. As we were waiting, it became clear that Ponta was bleeding a bit—but his neck fur is so thick, it’s kind of hard to see anything, and it holds the blood in.
That doesn’t look like much, but when I pulled his fur back, the seriousness of the wound was somewhat more clear:
We got in to see the vet, and they started treating Ponta right away. The vet said that they would have to shave the area (which I expected), and then they could assess the damage and do whatever they needed to do. They took Ponta in, and Sachi and I waited outside.
After a few minutes, we started hearing Ponta make frightened noises, so I asked the receptionist if we could come in and calm him down. After another minute, they called us in. As they treated Ponta, we were able to hold him and tell him what a good boy he was. This calmed him considerably, and I am really grateful to the vet for letting us do that.
Ponta was sitting on an exam table, being held bodily by a nurse, with a plastic cone around his neck, the wound being enough below it to not cause a problem. This also helped as Ponta could not see anything but us.
We could see the doctor working, however, and saw the damage—an inch-long crescent-shaped tear (the vet had clipped away excess damaged flesh). I am including the photo, but am hiding it behind a link—it is pretty graphic.
The doc gave Ponta a local anesthetic, cleaned the wound, and then stitched it up and applied an antibiotic ointment before wrapping it; again, I’ve put an image behind a link, this time of the stitches (less gory, but still kind of disturbing):
The doc applied gauze to the wound, and wrapped Ponta’s neck with long bands of tape, presumably made to not stick disastrously to fur. He said Ponta would be fine, but told us to bring Ponta in two days later. One thing we like about this hospital: not only do they have better hours, they are open 365 days a year, no holidays. This is Golden Week, a huge vacation season, and two days from now is a national holiday.
We took Ponta home, gave him some nice treats (including some rice with his antibiotic medicine), and lots of love. He seems to have recovered emotionally for now, and is resting fine.
Sachi later called up the park office which oversaw the dog run. To our dismay, they refused not only to identify the owner so we could contact him, but also refused to take any action beyond simply making a record of our call. What the hell good is the registration for the place if people can bring dogs that bite and injure other dogs with no repercussions of any kind?
At the very least, I want to confront this guy and hand him the vet’s bill—though, considering his alarming unconcern at the time, I have the feeling he’s not the kind of person who would take any sort of responsibility for his dogs.
Another possibility I am mulling is to make a handout, showing the dogs and the owner, and a photo of Ponta’s wound, describing what happened, and warning people to watch out for those dogs. Maybe post it up outside the run or something.
But then, I am still more than a little pissed at the jackass; maybe I’ll calm down eventually.
One point about all of this which is less bad than expected: vet bills in Japan are much lower than you’d expect. For injections, shaving & cleaning the wound, stitches, ointment, dressing, and the time spent by a vet and a nurse, in addition to a week’s medication, I expected a bill at least in the hundreds of dollars.
Instead, the bill came out to ¥8,295—just $85.
Sachi, meanwhile, simply does not want to return to the dog run at all—a shame, because it’s the only dog run less than 10 minutes’ drive away; we have been going there every two or three weeks for more than a year and a half now. There’s one in Tokorozawa to which there is no direct driving route; there’s another in Nerima we haven’t tried yet. Both would take about 40-45 minutes to get to. We’ll see….
Ponta has this irresistibly cute manner of rubbing his eyes and snout when he’s sleepy… When he’s not looking like a fox, he’s definitely looking like a cat.
Ponta helped us finish off a soft cream during our latest trip.
As I mentioned, we stayed at the Pension Lindenbaum in Karuizawa. The owners have a dog themselves, named Popo. Ponta and Popo got together briefly during our stay.
When we arrived at the dog-friendly Lindenbaum Pension in Karuizawa, there were guests already here (it’s off season), and they had a yellow lab just under a year old, named Moon. Ponta and Moon had a grand old time in the small dog run in the back.
Argh. Two months. And only half a dozen posts since the new year. I really have neglected this blog—apologies to all of you (if there are any of you!) who have kept visiting.
Well, here’s some compensation to begin with: a few dozen photos of Ponta at the dog run yesterday.
To begin with, here’s one of Ponta at his fuzziest:
A neat story from the visit: near the end, when we were getting ready to leave, there’s this black lab (pictured below) who comes up to us. He rears up and tries to paw at Sachi. You know how it can be with big dogs, they can stand at almost your height sometimes, and it’s a bit intimidating. Well, he backs off and down… and immediately, Ponta swipes at him with his paw, in an almost human gesture as if to say, “Get off her!” It was a precious moment, alas, not caught on film. But here’s Ponta pawing at the same dog a bit earlier
Another interesting thing about Ponta is a slight inability to socialize. When we bring him to the dog run, he absolutely loves it, and sometimes will engage with other dogs… but mostly, he’ll dance around the periphery. He’ll go up to groups of dogs engaged in play, but he won’t join in. He’ll watch, run around them, and just hang out, but has difficulty getting into it. It’s as if he really wants to get into things, but doesn’t quite know how.
It could, however, also be that he’s not really good at reciprocating. He’ll sniff other dogs, but doesn’t like it when they sniff him—more so than usual. H’e also cool to people at the dog run; he’ll walk up to people, but will almost immediately walk away, and rarely lets people pet him.
Not that he’s a total loner, though—perhaps more like he’s selective. There will be 2 or 3 dogs any one time that he’ll decide he wants to play with. But mostly, he’ll be just floating around.
I love Pinta’s facial expressions at odd times. Here’s one of him at the start of a doggie-shake:
And a few more along the same lines:
Sachi and I will sometimes start running so as to get Ponta moving; he always chases us when we do that. This time, a few other dogs joined in…
Ponta discovers the perils of butt-sniffing:
Despite his stand-offishness, Ponta still got in his share of dogplay:
I’m a kangaroo!!
C’mon guys, get a room already!
And one more of Ponta striking a pose:
Ponta gets chatty when he wants something, but I found the best result was when I “talked dog” with him.
Just a sheaf of images with Ponta having fun at a local park not too long ago…
Shiba Inus are not for the faint of heart. At least not fur-wise. They blow their coats twice a year, and the coat blows are not named that because they are a breeze.
You begin to notice a little shedding, and then more, and then, three months later, you can hardly see through all the fur that now fills most of your house up to the ceilings.
OK, I exaggerate a tad. But not too much. Here, take a look at Ponta posing nearby one coat blow’s worth of fur:
Keep in mind that a lot of that fur is compressed; in the original form, coming off the dog, it probably takes up 2-3 times that volume.
For fun, I tried to shape the fur into the shape of a dog, as I am always saying, “I could make another dog out of all this fur we’re getting from Ponta.”
I think Ponta by this time was somewhat irked. “Really?” he asked. “Are you trying to say something here?”
He accused me of being weird. Then I reminded him that he tried to eat the fur. He just looked at me, muttered, “You would bring that up, wouldn’t you?” and left.
For some reason, Ponta—a fairly mid-sized dog—likes to perch up on the sofa’s arm.
Hard to understand how he finds that comfortable, but there he is, like a bird on a wire.
Today is the first snow we’ve had this season. I woke up before 9 am, and it had been raining a lot, big puddles of water everywhere. About 9:30 it turned to snow, and I took Ponta out for his walk just an hour later, with as much as an inch or even more on the ground already. And they say it will not snow heavily until later in the day!
Ponta, for his part, just had a ball. He loves snow, can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, I could not get much video because (a) my hand was freezing, and (b) my iPhone got so wet I was afraid it would harm it, but I got enough to put together this little ditty. Enjoy.
Sachi and I took Ponta to the shrine for midnight on New Year’s Eve, a first for Ponta. Below are some photos from the evening.
Happy New Year 2013!
Ponta often greets us happily when we get back after a few hours, but even then, he doesn’t get overly excited. That’s a reaction he saves when one of us is gone for a few days or more. Then he gets really worked up—his ears get pinned back, he starts running in circles, he jumps around, jumps up on us, and lets out cute, strangled cries of joy.
That’s what happened when I got back from a 2-week stay in the U.S., which we made sure to catch on film this time.
For Sachi’s Christmas present, I made four different Ponta calendars. We’ve been talking about making Ponta calendars for a while but never got around to it. One main reason: it’s not easy. I have literally thousands—maybe a few tens of thousands—of photos of Ponta. The first task was to get them all together, then sort through them, choosing the best ones, then designing the respective calendars. It took the better part of a few weeks, which i had to keep secret from Sachi. Another reason I did not blog here much…
The desktop calendars, counting discounts and excluding shipping & handling, were about $10 to $12 apiece. A Snapfish wall calendar was about $20, and the deluxe 18-month Apple calendar, pictured below, came in at about $29 each.
The desktop calendars differ, the Snapfish is only so-so, but Shutterfly’s desktop calendar is excellent. Very large, very good quality. Apple’s wall calendars are superb, though a little pricey—but Sachi loves them, so they’re all worth it. I will go with Shutterfly next time, though.
Below is March’s display for the Apple calendar. If you for some reason want the whole, full-quality PDF file of the entire 18-month calendar that iPhoto gave me—at 47 MB—click the image below to download it.
Sorry, it’s been a killer month. First there was my job—both super-busy due to extra duties, and then final exams and grading— and then I was in America for a few weeks.
Ponta is back, and updates will be coming very soon.
Sorry, it’s been a crazy month, and the workload is just beginning to settle down… Here are a few images that have stood out recently.
We went to Koganei Park for the dog run. There were tons of dogs there. Ponta had a great time, got real dirty, and got a bath when he got home. But here he is trying to mix in with the background:
At home, he loves to eat rice. The thing is, sticky rice in Japan is kind of like peanut butter—it sticks to the roof of your mouth, and pretty much everywhere else too. After a few rice treats, Ponta usually looks like this, oblivious to what’s on his lips.
Maybe we should make him wear his bib more often. (It reads, “Ponta.” We were given it as a little gift at the end of a stay at a pet-friendly inn in Nasu Kogen.)
Here’s Ponta at Koganei again. Sachi calls this the “Jesus Ponta” picture.
And finally, Ponta has been shedding a lot less, and so gets to sleep with us. He’ll usually lodge himself between Sachi and me—but he does not at all mind being tucked in.