Robin Kienzle of Glen Burnie owns, trains and treats dogs, particularly Akitas. She owns four. "Their temperament is what I admire the most," she says. "They are not aggressive, are wonderfully mellow around the house, laid back, happy and loyal."
Mrs. Kienzle is also a veterinary technician for the Huffard Animal Hospital in Pasadena.
Two of her Akitas are brothers, 6-year-old Tanaka and Kinichi, which she adopted at age 6 weeks, and two Pausing with pets are females, Chikara, age 3, and Tora, 7 months.
Training a dog is a way of making the dog happier, she says. Each of her dogs is being trained in obedience. She has also trained support dogs for the disabled and is at present training a border collie named Pasha for a "young boy, a friend of mine who has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair," says the 29-year-old Mrs. Kienzle.
When she feels Pasha is ready, she'll take her to Pennsylvania where her young friend lives and will spend two weeks working with the boy and his dog. "My boss, veterinarian Dr. Bruce Goldman, is giving Pasha all her health needs free," she says.
Tanaka the Akita is benefiting from Pasha's training. "He is beginning to be a support dog. He will pick up our cordless phone when it rings and bring it to me. He'll carry my purse when we go shopping, or he'll carry a six-pack of sodas or whatever I need him to do just as Pasha will eventually do for my friend.
"And, all the while Tanaka's tail is really wagging. He loves it," she says.
It would be difficult to find a breed history more interesting than that of the Akita. It is native to Japan and is that country's national dog. At one time, ownership was restricted to the ruling family and to aristocracy.
The Akita is good-natured but will defend its family against any threat.
In the Japanese household the Akita is a symbol of good health, and small statues of an Akita are given for a birth or for an illness.
Helen Keller is credited with bringing the first Akita to the United States. One was given to her on a visit to Japan in 1937, and its popularity in the United States grew from that. Service men returned home with Akitas after World War II.
A beautiful story of the dog's loyalty has resulted in a statue of an Akita being erected at Tokyo's Shibuya railroad station. The dog was named Hachiko and it walked to the station each morning with its owner, Dr. Elisaburo Ueno, a professor at Tokyo University, and returned each evening to meet the train and greet his owner.
One day in 1925 the professor had a heart attack at work and never came home again. But Hachiko continued to look for his master and met the train at the railroad station every evening until he died in 1934.
The statue, placed to honor the dog's loyalty, is visited by dog lovers from all over the world.
The Akita Club of America was founded in 1956. The breed was accepted to the Working Class of the American Kennel Club in 1973.
Robin Kienzle says an Akita's intelligence is unmistakable in every thing it attempts to do.
"I obedience-train my dogs with trainers Terry Wright and Debbi Hutchinson, who own a training school in Anne Arundel County they call Kinderpup. And I work with trainer Marian Zak in Westminster," she says.
Tanaka has his CD (companion dog) obedience award and is being trained for his next title, CDX (companion dog excellent).
Kinichi also has a CD but his training is on hold right now while his owner is boarding and training the border collie. Kinichi is staying "with my sister, Lory O'Mara, who also has Akitas," she says.
Robin Kienzle's dogs are absolutely free in the house, "sleeping on the sofa and in the bed until the crowd gets too much even for them," she laughs.