Skoshi Yami – A Little Darkness

Skoshi’s full name in miss-translated Japanese is “Sukoshi yami”. In English: “a little darkness” due to her evil ways as a puppy. She was not well socialized while in her litter and did not like being handled or held. Especially being held.

Of course I knew none of this when I purchased her, flew to Dallas TX the day before Christmas Eve, stayed in a “pet friendly” hotel with a micro dog area that reeked of urine, and then flew back to Nevada with the ornery cuss in a crate that was ten times bigger than what she needed. Why? Cuz I’m stupid; that’s why.

Skoshi was purchased from first time breeders who had two good dogs for sire and dam. They (the owners, not the dogs) had taken the time to assemble pedigrees back three generations which showed no health issues, no inbreeding, and several champions. They did warn me that she was the runt of the litter but her vet checkups were unremarkable and the breeders sent pictures of every visit. There was nothing to judge her size against so I ordered a kennel for what I thought was the appropriate size for an eight week old Akita puppy to fly home in and waited for the day to go get her.

Skoshi at the hotel.

At exactly eight weeks, I flew to Dallas and met the breeders in the parking lot of the nearby hotel. She looked a bit small (aas expected) but all the pieces were in the right places, she had the structure I wanted, ears up, tight curl to her tail, small “cat” feet on strong legs, and she had obviously been well fed. Skoshi was reserved, as Akitas are supposed to be with new people, and entirely uninterested in the transaction that would change her life. The breeders wished us well and drove away. I was pleased with getting a quality dog with sound breeding. Skoshi, as you can see in the picture to the left, was unimpressed. And then the fun began.

Skoshi did not want to be carried anywhere, did not want to use the elevator, did not want to be in the hotel dog area (I didn’t either), and damn sure didn’t want to wear a leash. Struggles aside, we went to our room where I tried to get her to eat, play with a toy, and generally get to know each other. She was having none of it. She turned up her snotty nose at the chow, couldn’t care less about the toy, and retreated to the bowels of the huge travel crate and glared. All night.

She made not one peep but even with the TV on, I could feel her icy little stare boring holes through the darkness. With my typical anthropomorphic insight, I could feel her saying “You are a disappointment to me. Try harder.” At the butt-crack of dawn we were up and I tried to get her to drink some water as the trip home was four hours plus two hours of ground time minimum but again, she wasn’t having it. We checked in for her flight without issue, this little dog and her giant crate. Despite the “oohs and ahhs” I could feel the Texans watching me and my big box of little dog while saying to themselves “Bless his heart.” If you’ve ever spent more than 10 minutes in the south, you know that isn’t an empathetic expression. Regardless, half a day later we were in Reno. Her bladder must have been three quarters of her body mass for not one mess in the crate. Once outside, she finally did her business and it must have been an immense relief for her. It was for me, for at least something besides orneriness was coming out of her.

Once home, we set up an area for her and she ate for the first time. But she cared not one wit for me or my wife and retreated to her corner to sleep silently through night until the next day. Once her little batteries were recharged, she was determined to have her way in just about everything, especially being handled. For days I thought I’d made a mistake and she would never take to us. She was (I thought), a little cutie with a coal black heart that had zero use for humans.

As she grew, she earned some new nicknames, most deserving was “Princess Needle Teeth”. Every day was a new injury to my mangled hands and arms and a constant battle to get her to accept being handled. Then, one day we were doing a dominance/acceptance drill and I had her on her back with my hand on her chest. She was snapping away like a piranha on meth and suddenly, it just clicked. She froze and looked up at me for a long moment and just quit. It took almost eight months (and some very weird discussions with my doctors about “self harm”) to get there. She stopped being a little heathen and over the next few weeks became a gentle and affectionate hairy chunk of Velcro. Having raised several Akita’s, it was a stunning transformation I’d never seen before.

Oh yeah, perfectly sane!