2012 OC Pet Expo
On April 20-22, the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, CA was teeming with hundreds of pet lovers as they descended upon America’s Family Pet Expo. The Shikoku Ken has been well represented at this expo but it all began in 2008 with the sole efforts of Corina Gonzalez of Airreyalis Kennels showing her black-sesame (kurogoma) male, Shoushuu. One year later, she added her female, Kotomi and soldiered on to represent Shikoku Ken at the Pet Expo for the next 2 years.
In 2011, the representative Shikoku Ken doubled in population as Shuran and Kurenai joined the ranks. People continued to stop in awe at their striking coat and were entranced by their sanguine disposition. With the growing support of the group being bolstered by NASC and Nihonken.org, 2012 was the biggest representation of Shikoku yet as 5 dogs showed up to represent the breed: Shoushuu, Kotomi, Kurenai, and Sakura of Airreyalis Kennels and Kaiju, a sesame (goma) imported from Japan with the assistance of Yamabushi Kennels.
I was able to attend on Saturday and was greeted with a pack of dogs greater than I had ever seen before since the history of Shikoku Ken showing at America’s Family Pet Expo. Four Kai Ken, two Kishu Ken, and the five Shikoku Ken were assembled as a culmination of the efforts of NASC and Nihonken.org to assist and educate Southern California’s Pet Expo attendees of 3 of the 4 spitz-type Japanese breeds that are book-ended by their more popular kinsmen, the Shiba Inu and Akita Inu.
NASC member, Theresa Dinh, did a great job in designing a great handout to spectators as they stopped by the booths. Special thanks to Julie Vu and her brother-in-law, Robert Archey of Print5k for assisting in the production of the handouts. Theresa created an info card of the 4 medium-sized breeds (chu-ken) that could also be cut up to be used as bookmarks. Click on the links to view the front and back.
Many people came by and asked about the Shikoku and the other breeds, “Are they mixed?”, “Are they a new breed?”, “How come I’ve never heard about them?” “How are their temperments?” and, my personal favorite, “How much do they cost?”. Our members stood firm and diplomatic regarding the information about the breed (though the day wore out even the hardiest of road warriors and veterans). But our explanation was something along the lines of the following:
The Shikoku (and the other 3 breeds) are breeds that were borne for a specific purpose (hunting big game) for their specific region. The Shikoku were developed in relative isolation in the Kochi prefecture on the island of Shikoku, and consequently are rare and less known even to some of their own countrymen.
…But you know this already otherwise you wouldn’t be on this site.
Regardless, the show was an excellent platform to elevate the exposure of the breed. We were very proud of all the Shikoku doing what they do best (playing “hard” and looking adorable doing it).