Akita, the First Red Shepherd

Missed my dogs (and Texas) a ton this labor day weekend, and ended up spending most of my time organizing my photos into two folders: dogs and other 🙂

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So,  given their physical absence, I thought I’d talk a little about these two furbabies I adopted last year, and subsequently left back in Texas while I pursue my career (so far, Nathan’s been managing grad school and two dogs fairly well!).  For whatever reason, our dogs have more IG followers than their parents combined (~1000 usually), so they’re obviously more deserving of public attention than my long-winded rants.


One day in early May, Nathan spotted the most adorable corgi/beagle mix named Lucy available at the Denton Shelter. She was so cute, he was willing to ignore his apartment’s no-pet clause to adopt the little girl. lucy

We arrived at the shelter only a minute after they opened. Nathan’s enthusiasm vanished as soon as we walked into the shelter; there was Lucy, already tethered to the arm of her loving, new family.

I could hear the silent “nooooooo” just behind his lips. Hanging his head, Nathan went over to a seat near the corner, sat down in a heap, and stared at the floor. I felt so bad for him.

So of course, I cheered myself up by going to the showroom.

No chance of any apartment-made dogs here. They were all pits and shepherd mixes, as per usual. Dogs with any ounce of fluff get cycled out much faster – a sad, but true trend. It took me two loops around to finally notice a brown, shepherd-ish dog lying in a lazy heap, head turned away from the show window and staring off into the other side of her kennel. I glanced at her card. Her name? Love, after the gas station where they found her near the edge of town. Her breed? Mix. Helpful. But not anything I knew Nathan wanted.

I called her name, and when she didn’t respond (no surprise), I tapped the glass. This girl did not. give. a. fuck.

“Excuse me,” I called over to the volunteer. My voice echoed across the stone halls, catching the lady’s attention. “Could I visit with her please?”

The lady leaned over. “Oh, Love,” she said. “Sure.” And she walked off toward the kennel entrance. The moment the latch uncaught from the hinge, every dog began to bark in earnest. Instead, Love’s ears perked, and she bolted into a sitting position, leaning forward to the other side of the crate. I still couldn’t see her face when the volunteer looped her head with a makeshift leash and brought her toward the visiting yard.

I walked back around to the lobby, where poor, bereaved Nathan still hadn’t moved.

“Honey… honey!” He looked up. “Come with me to the yard.”

I didn’t wait to see his response. In all honesty, I was more excited to see this dog, whose demeanor resembled my previous, beautiful, unique, lazy dog Cutter.

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A Cattle dog/Australian/German shepherd mix, Cutter was cute, soft, quiet, lazy, and mine since junior year of college… until he was stolen from me the minute my brothers met him. Knowing my brothers fell in love so rarely, I let him go, but since then I had a soft spot for midsize shepherds and I was excited to see how she  compared.

At first, Nathan was fairly impassive toward Love. She explored freely for a little bit, and Nathan petted her and tried to engage in play. They brought out another dog named Scout with whom she’d created a rapport; they played generously for awhile before the volunteers looked up at us.

“Well?” They asked with poorly disguised haste. “You gonna bring her home?”

Nathan looked at me, and I could tell he was waiting for my answer. That’s always a bad decision. I looked down, as if Love would tell me what to do. She just gave me this look:

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Nathan told me later that he was actually surprised when I said yes, but wasn’t going to deny her after that. We brought her home, a dog too huge to be clandestine within Nathan’s teeny 1-bed. But it didn’t matter. Within days, she obviously became the top girl in the house.

“Wanna keep her name?” I asked Nathan on the way home from Petsmart. Nathan scoffed.

“No.” He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he thought. “I don’t want a generic name. Something unique, like her.”

Neither the shelter nor the town’s Petsmart could figure out what mix or breed she was. The most common, educated guesses have been Husky, Akita, and Canaan. Some of her more unique characteristics: red coloring, high hips, triangle face, and long neck.

I had my own guesses, but when he mentioned unique names, I blurted out the only word in my head that was unconventional.

“What about Akita?”

He had no idea that was actually a breed that she resembled, but it stuck. So now, we possess a sassy shepherd mix, who acts like a husky, called Akita. Akita is not a toy dog, nor does she particularly care for the company of other dogs when there are other people present. She loooooves human attention. Surprisingly, she approaches both small dogs and kids by crouching with her front paws and bows her head, getting down to their level. In another life, she’d have made a good nanny dog. Too bad Nathan has no intention of letting her go. Everywhere she went, she drew the attention of our lab colleagues, faculty, and strangers. Shortly after her adoption, I went away for a training for eleven days. When I came back, it was like Keets and Nathan were the perfect duo (cue girlfriend/inferior furparent envy).

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Things stayed that way for a few short weeks, until a friend tagged us in another DASF post about a certain adoptable corgi…

P. S. Major shout-out to Denton Animal Support Foundation (DASF) and the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Shelter, who do so much to make sure animal welfare remains a priority in Denton county. If you’re in the Denton area, please support them as they take in displaced pets from the Houston area!

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