Kuma, the Teddy-bear Akita


Beth’s husband had two Akitas.  She wanted to get one for their six-year-old son.  She got Lee a puppy and named him Kuma, which is Japanese for Bear.

The two older dogs kept attacking the puppy.  The marriage wasn’t going well, either. Beth and her son moved out and got their own place and took Kuma with them.

Akitas are known as a dangerous breed. They’ve even made some top ten lists.  Not Kuma.  He is a mellow teddy bear.  Lee straddles him and rides him like a horse.

Everywhere Kuma goes, people stop and stare. They ask questions. What breed is that? How much does he weigh?  Where did you get him?

Kuma goes everywhere, especially to the river or the lake. Beth loves water sports – swimming, water skiing, kayaking. But neither Kuma nor Lee knew how to swim.  Enter new boyfriend, Austin, when Lee was eight and Kuma was two. Being a child of divorce, he knew that Lee needed some guy support in his life.  Austin spent three days playing with Lee in the lake, first having him paddle around while Austin held onto him, then having Lee jump off of rocks into Austin’s arms, until finally Lee was ready to get his face wet. 

Kuma didn’t know how to swim, either. Austin got the dog into the lake and watched instincts take over as the dog paddling began.

Austin and his buddies wanted to spend the day on a private island. To get there, everyone had to either swim or go by kayak. Beth took the paddle board. Kuma was afraid to swim that far, so Austin loaded him into the kayak to take him over to the island.  Normally, a one-hundred-ten-pound dog in a tippy kayak could be disastrous, but Kuma was scared and didn’t move until they reached the shore. Austin had to go back and get more people and nicknamed his kayak the Yak Taxi.

Kuma is so mellow, he has walked through Harvey’s casino in South Lake Tahoe. Everyone wants to touch his beautiful coat and pet his teddy-bear head.

One day, it was too hot to leave Kuma in the yard. Akitas are double-coated, descended from dogs of the snowy mountains of Japan.  Beth had to work, so she locked up Kuma inside her house for a couple of hours. Kuma didn’t handle it well and ripped up all of the window blinds while trying to get outside.   He must’ve had separation anxiety. Or he’s claustrophobic.

Maybe he’s not so mellow after all.

At least he and Lee learned how to swim over the 4th of July weekend.

Thanks to Austin, who must know . . .

. . . that the fastest way to a woman’s heart is through her kid and her big furry dog.

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