This past Fall, I awoke one morning feeling certain that our family had room for a second dog, and decided it was time to go hunting. Having welcomed 8-year old Max, an unbelievably sweet Samoyed a few years before, I researched lots of other breeds and quickly fixated on Shiba Inus. Yes, I read all the pros and cons about the breed. (Just be aware of the door-bolting tendency and prepare accordingly.) Truly, logic played no part in this decision, but it just felt right. Shibas are different and interesting. We searched regionally for reputable breeders and Karen, Anya and company topped the list. So it was off to Icewinds Farm to see these little creatures up close. If you can, please try to schedule a visit to Icewinds. It’s beautiful country and you will be entertained every minute you are there.

The charms of a Shiba are obvious, and if you are reading this, you are probably already hooked. Surely, there are times and places in our lives when a puppy is a perfect fit. But a Shiba puppy, while almost unbearably cute, may prove challenging for the faint of heart or those with ultra-busy lives and careers. If the average puppy is high-octane, young Shibas run on jet fuel. So, if you’ve “been there and done that” with raising puppies, please think about adopting an older rescue dog or as we did from Icewinds, a retired breeding dog.

Instead of housebreaking and obedience training for a year or two (or three or four), you could have a terrific canine companion oriented into your home and family within a few weeks at most. And if your Shiba has been vetted by Karen and Anya, you are virtually assured of success! They clearly love their dogs and know each of their individual personalities.

On our second visit to Icewinds, we were adopted by Misty (formerly ” Sahara” and briefly “H oney”), a sweet little red female, 7 years young. Before I became a rescue fan, I used to worry that an older dog would be with us for fewer years. Now I know that every year with a lovely dog is time well spent – for them and for us. We’ve come to learn that an 8-year journey can be every bit as rewarding as a one that lasts 15. After all, we Baby Boomers don’t want to be written off in middle age, so let’s appreciate our canine friends in the same phase of life! There are now five rescue dogs in my extended family — our Samoyed, an Akita , a Beagle, a mystery dog, and now little Misty. None of them came to us as puppies, but all have been loads of fun.

Although Misty came home with us just two short months ago, it feels like she’s been part of the family forever. She flitted about on the outskirts of our daily lives for the first few days, much like a shy little woodland creature, quietly observing the life lead by King Max. She’s very smart and soon decided that she would be Queen, and it would be a monarchy. Misty has adjusted very well, concluding her breeding career and transforming with calm assurance into pampered pet in short order, despite what had to be enormous life change for her. She is friendly but not needy, amusing but not exhausting, very quiet (not heard the infamous Shiba scream yet), and never destructive. She has no interest (thank God) in scaling our 4 foot fence, which would not even challenge a young Shiba. Misty will often play and frolic all by herself. In the chaos of remodeling, she has been no trouble at all, only snitching a little paintbrush every now and then. She has captivated even those that are not the biggest dog lovers, including Mom, who in her eighties can easily handle Misty on her own. In fact, we’ve come to believe that an older Shiba would make a wonderful companion to seniors. All in all, a more mature Shiba can be a perfect second dog – or a great first dog – or a third dog….

Karen and daughter Anya will tell you all you need to know and Karen is also very generous with post-adoption advice that we really appreciate. And visit Anya’s store for Shiba favorites. Just be assured that if Karen and Anya recommend the dog, you can have the utmost confidence and perhaps you too will be adopted by a quirky little Shiba. Please remember that a nice dog is a nice dog every year of its life.