Takayuki Umoto, an office worker living in Inooka, Yokote City, keeps six Akita dogs, although he is not a breeder. He enjoys his busy days, saying, “Now, I feel I work for these dogs.”
One sunny day in late February, Anrihime (five-year-old female) stood quietly in front of Mr. Umoto’s house. Eventually, she lay down on the asphalt and began to bask in the sun’s warmth.
The six dogs usually spend time in the crates made by Mr. Umoto in the garden. Mr. Umoto said, “I wish I could let them in my place freely, but it’s not so realistic with six dogs.”
On that day, Mei (two-year-old female) was sitting in front of the garage, and the eldest, Momojiro (seven-year-old male), was lying in the garage. Mei’s puppies, Haruurara (one-year-old female), Harukasumi (one-year-old female), and Koitaro (one-year-old male), were playing through each crate actively together.
Momojiro, Anrihime, and Mei walk together in the morning and evening. Haruurara and Harukasumi walk as a pair, but Koitaro, who is in his mischievous phase, walks alone. Koitaro is scheduled to be exhibited at the headquarters exhibition of the Akita Dog Preservation Society in Daisen City in May 2023, and he has been training every day.
Since it is challenging to photograph six dogs altogether, the photos were taken separately. When the puppies emerged from the crates, the adult dogs reacted differently. Anrihime looked unconcerned, but on the other hand, Mei stood still in front of the garage as if she was waiting for her puppies to return.
Meanwhile, Momojiro’s whimpering, “Take me with you,” was heard from the back of the garage. Mr. Umoto laughed, saying, “The males get lonely easier and more jealous.”
Mr. Umoto has loved animals since he was a child. It was about twenty years ago that he kept his first Akita dog. He started caring for a female dog named Momo, given by a breeder who lived in the city. Mr. Umoto said, “I kept the dog to make my child happy, but truthfully, I was more fascinated.”
When Momo died in 2015, Mr. Umoto’s loss was much more profound than anticipated. A few months later, He welcomed a newborn male puppy from Odate City and named him Momojiro. At the same time, he entered the Akita Dog Preservation Society. Mr. Umoto said, “I was satisfied with just keeping Akita dogs before, but I became sincerely interested in them and wanted to learn more about them.”
Mr. Umoto started sharing information about Momojiro on social media and made friends with Akita dog lovers nationwide. He became more motivated to keep Akita dogs and welcomed Anrihime in 2018, then Mei in 2020, and started to attend exhibitions held in different locations across Japan.
Mei gave birth to four puppies in late 2021. Mr. Umoto planned to keep just one, but only one of the four puppies found a new owner. Mr. Umoto said, “I decided to keep the other three puppies myself and got attached to them as they grew too big to hand over to someone else.”
Since male Akita dogs have a strong sense of territory, Mr. Umoto pays close attention to Koitaro as he gets older and more robust for not to cause any trouble with Momojiro.
Mr. Umoto said, “Before the coronavirus pandemic, I used to take my dogs to Akita Furusato Village and Lake Tazawa, where they pleased the tourists. They loved to be petted by people, so I want to go out together as we did before.” He is now considering buying a bigger van to replace his current minivan.
Mr. Umoto said cheerfully, “I don’t think I can keep more dogs, but I want to make many pleasant memories with my six dogs.”