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Monday, September 21, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Some of you have asked that I recount Hachi's history. Hachi's mom was a stray on city streets in Texas. She gave birth to a litter of puppies in that city's streets, and Hachi was one of them. We don't know exactly how they were rescued but they landed in a shelter with a high kill rate in Texas. As often happens, a Colorado rescue said that they'd take the whole family. By the time Hachi was 6 weeks old, the puppies were in a foster home in Colorado.

Around that time, we decided to look for a puppy. Our motivation was to give Shyla a sibling who she could bond with while R was still alive. You may remember that Shyla was incredibly fearful as a young dog. R was her rock, and we thought that losing him could send her into a tailspin. Hence, we adopted Hachi when he was said to be eight weeks old.

We immediately recognized how fearful he was but we thought that we could help him, especially since we met him when he was so very young. I'll leap ahead in the story to say that we were not able to help him on our own. So, we took him to a behavioral vet when he was about 6 months old. When that vet first met him, she brought up the option of behavioral euthanasia - because, as she put it, some dogs will never be happy living in human society. Being afraid all the time, as Hachi was at that point, doesn't make for a happy life. 

I started "The Hachi Chronicle" to share our journey after our first visit to the behavioral vet. At that time, I had no idea how it would turn out but I wanted to be up-front about what we were going through. To say that I was stressed out would be a vast understatement. I was terrified that Hachi might hurt one of our other dogs, and I knew that I'd never trust him again if he did. Fortunately, a dog-savvy friend and our vet helped us put a management plan in place to protect our other dogs. Basically, it involved separating Hachi from the others, while they all lived in one house. It has worked, and it's become natural to us although I now foresee that it may not be needed in the future.

Writing out this story is good for me because it makes me realize how far Hachi has come. He's been on behavioral meds and we've done extensive behavior modification training with him since he was 6 months old (he's almost two now). We work with him every day, and progress seems glacial at times. But, when you add up minuscule daily progress over 1.5 years (~550 days!), it turns into big progress.

Back then, I never thought that I'd see him as happy as he is now. I also wouldn't have predicted that he and Shyla would have such a strong bond.

We watch with amazement as he tries out things that used to terrify him. Going into water is one. Until recently, he was afraid of shallow puddles on our old driveway. Now he is choosing to go in the creek up to his shoulders! The key, like for so many other things with Hachi, is to put zero pressure on him to do more than he chooses. He sets the pace of trying new things.

I think that the move to Labrador Valley is helping Hachi make another huge step forward in leaving some of his fears behind. His rehab is a work in progress but I feel more confident about his happiness every single day.


  1. so many thanks to you for giving this pup a chance and for helping him to understand our world ... so much progress we are so happy for all the good things you can share...

  2. Hari OM
    Your courage and determination are a large part of what is making Hachi the fine dog he shows the potential now to be! May you all continue to go from strength to strength! YAM xx

  3. We have said it before and we truly believe that Hachi has the most perfect family.

  4. You're worked hard to give Hachi the best care possible. I too thing your move is a very good thing for him.

    Have a fabulous day and week. Scritches to the pups. ♥

  5. Hachi landed in the right place at the right time and you have done an amazing job with him. he is so gorgeous and smart and he and Shyla are so happy running with each other. Kind of a Canine Cinderella story but the prince is the cinderfella

  6. Hachi really has come a long way and we're so happy Hachi and Shyla are doing so well together.

  7. It's wonderful to hear how far Hachi has come and that he is still progressing. We're glad to hear the new home seems to be good for him instead of being a new source of worry. Our paws are crossed that he continues to improve.

  8. You've clearly done such wonderful, patient work with Hachi. It is a quite shocking though to realise how challenging it can be to help a traumatised dog, even when that trauma clearly occurred at such a very young age.

  9. Goodness, you've certainly been on an adventure with Hachi. Thank goodness he found his way to you, because chances are he wouldn't be alive if it weren't so.

  10. KB thank you for this post. I am a huge fan of Dr. Jeff Young's animal planet show Rocky Mountain Vet, he is in Denver.
    A year or so ago he accompanied a rescue group out of Colorado to Texas to rescue probably 25 or more puppies.
    His clinic also has a rescue section in it.
    Hugs Cecilia

  11. Thank you for sharing Hachi's progress! He's lucky he ended up with a family who could understand his fears and work with him. I think with most families, he would've been heading to the needle. :(

  12. amazing! hachi is so lucky to have found you

  13. We thought many times when Hachi first came that maybe he couldn't be helped, but we always had that belief in the back of our mind that Hachi WOULD succeed with YOU. And you have proved that thought to be so right. Kudos for all that you have done and continue to do for Hachi.

  14. So 'pawsome' he's made such amazing progress. Pat yourselves on the back-you've done a great job helping him get this far.

  15. thank you for his background story.
    I seem to remember pictures of him as a puppy and enjoying naps and sleeping closely with Shyla
    and even beautiful Black Dog as well! don't know when or how that somehow must have changed.
    hopefully it will come back and they'll be a comfort to each other at all times... not just in play! xo

  16. Thank you for the excellent summary. It's amazing what glacial progress - not to mention overcoming the backward steps that happen too - can accomplish. You and your team are doing a great job with Mr. Hachi.

    Chris from Boise

  17. No one else would have given him a chance, or given him a better home.

  18. I just loves his story! It breaks my heart that there is a thing like behavioral euthanasia. I've never heard of this, butts i guess it makes some sense. Thank DoG that Hachi found you guys!
    Ruby ♥

  19. Can't believe he is almost two already. He is doing so well, and has the ideal family. I'm sure it he had been sent to a family in a city or suburban setting he would never have blossomed like he is out in nature. He's a very lucky boy.

  20. Thank you for sharing Hachi's story. You sure did prove that "behavioral specialist" wrong!

  21. I'm so happy you did not give up on him, and still have not. His progress is amazing! ♥


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