I dismissed it at first. I didn't want an Akita. My research had taught me that they were aloof, unaffectionate, serious dogs who were difficult to train and were unable to live in an apartment. However, her picture stuck in my mind and the next day I went back and the add was reposted. There was that face again. I emailed the add to my husband and he agreed we should look at her; "just to see."
Kylie was sick, she had kennel cough, she was underweight, she was aggressive towards female dogs, and they informed me that she had been confiscated from a homicide scene. Further research told me that is was a stabbing that occurred at a known drug house. They told me that the only reason they were going to adopt her to me was because I was going to take her to school. I felt a little guilt tripped but I could tell that once she was fattened up a little she would be beautiful and appearance is important in a demo dog. At least she would stand out.
It would be a year before I went to NK9. That year was difficult. I had no idea what I was doing. I had her in a head halter to keep her from lunging and jumping at people and other dogs and to keep her from pulling (I have yet to encounter a dog who was worse on a leash than Kylie) and, naturally, that didn't work. Knowing what I know now a "gentle leader" was 100% the wrong approach to take with this dog.
Once I got her to school, however, things did a 180. As soon as Bob and Chris instructed me on how to correct her and lead her properly she erupted into this working dog I had never seen before. She did extremely well. She threw herself into whatever work I put in front of her, held back only by her physical limitations (she is a heavy dog at 85 pounds and was not in peak physical shape and so was not as agile as the Boxer or the Shepherds in the class) and by me learning more slowly now to teach than she learned what I wanted to teach her. Advanced Obedience, Utility (to an extent, jumping over 3 feet was hard), Scent Detection, Tracking, Personal Protection, Retrieval, and Service Dog work were all within her grasp. And she looked good doing it.
I was shocked by her progress. I knew right away that I had a stellar demo dog on my hands and have been proven right for 3 years now. But Kylie is turning 6 or 7 this year and arthritis is already setting in. What I would do without Kylie is weighing heavy on my mind and I know that I want my next Demo Dog to learn how to interact with canines from Kylie. Through training Kylie has gone from harming other female dogs to living peacefully (even making friends many times) with all of the boarder dogs we have ever had in our home. She is one of the best canine communicators I have ever encountered and I hope that will influence the next generation of FSK9 Demo Dog.
So I am researching breeds. I plan to get one in the next 2 years or so and I am looking into high caliber breeds. My instinct is to look into another Akita but my research makes me nervous. All over the place I read "aggressive," "aloof," "difficult to train," and I wonder is Kylie the exception to the rule? There are zero youtube videos of Akitas competing in AKC obedience trials. If you search images you will be hard pressed to find an image of them doing anything but standing. You search German Shepherd, or Belgian Malinois you will find action shots of police dogs, Schutzhund dogs, and therapy dogs. Akitas? Nope. Standing. Apparently that is what they do. Sometimes they walk impressively but mostly they stand.
I have decided that this isn't fair. Maybe Kylie is the exception to the rule but there should be some evidence of the Akita's abilities online. So I am going to start this new blog series. I don't promise that it will be weekly but it will be occasional and it will spotlight one of Kylie's skills as a Versatile Akita. If you also have a versatile Akita and would like to tell me about it I would love more evidence that Kylie is in fact, not exceptional, that if I were to invest in another Akita I would be getting the same work ethic I have found in my sweet girl.