Tachi's story is much shorter and sadder than Tsuki's.
After Tsuki passed away, we forced ourselves to wait a month before getting a new dog. It was a very long October for us, but we felt we had to wait for a couple of reasons. First because we had a trip planned and didn't want to get a new dog and immediately have to leave them, even just for a weekend. Second because we had read that it takes at least a month for the smell of the old dog to fade to the point where it won't be so upsetting to the new dog to be in some unseen animal's territory.
In early November, we contacted the local branch of Akita Rescue. They pointed us towards an animal that was in the Hayward, CA, pound. Jeff went over to see her, and what he found was 60 pounds of skin and bone. Hayward is on the San Francisco bay. The animal control officer said that the dog had been running loose on the salt flats for at least a month before the officer had been able to trap her. The dog was so afraid of people that they had to set a live-trap. Apparently there was someone in a nearby office park that had been putting food out, and that person had also reported seeing the dog get hit by a car.
The next day, Saturday, Jeff and I drove the 50 miles to Hayward to see the dog together. We took her into the small visiting room and sat down. She wouldn't come near us. She was much more interested in smelling the air that was coming in under the door. So I sat down on the floor in front of the door. The room was small enough that with me sitting by the door and Jeff sitting on the bench, the dog had to let one of us touch her. After a few minutes she calmed down and was actually pretty friendly. After a walk around the block, and determining that this skinny Akita was far too animal aggressive to let us rescue a second dog, we decided to adopt her. We named her Tachi, which means both "mansion" and "longsword".
We couldn't take her home with us right away because she wasn't spayed, and Animal Control could not let the dog out of their possession until she was. So Monday afternoon, I drove up to Hayward again to pick her up. Once at home, we could start observing and trying to figure out what had really happened to make an Akita into such a chicken.
We're sure that she must have been abused. Any time anyone had something long in their hand (a fly-swatter, a wooden spoon, a mop), Tachi would vanish. One of our friends took to calling her the toothpaste dog because of the way that she could squirt between your legs to escape when she felt cornered. Fortunately, she was always friendly. She wasn't always gentle, but that was mostly being clumsy and playing with her mouth open.
It took nearly a year for her to allow people that she saw on an irregular basis to touch her. Cheese turned out to be a great motivator for her. Tachi was also an expert in the stealth sniff. She'd sneak up behind people to sniff them, but if they acknowledged her presence, she'd flee.
On her second Christmas with us, we took a driving vacation from California to Illinois. She seemed to like the trip. She traveled well, and didn't care whether we camped or stayed in hotels. We were actually very surprised at how quiet she was in hotels.
On December 20, 1997, we made a mistake. Jeff and I were heading out to eat lunch with some members of his family. We were staying with my parents, and Mother was concerned that Tachi would be too cold being left in the truck while we ate. So we left her with my parents. We had warned them about the toothpaste dog, but that's something that doesn't make sense until you see it in action. Tachi slipped out the back door and was off and running.
Tsuki had never been a runner. She would have gone a couple of blocks and laid down. Tachi was a much leggier dog, and was scared. She was last seen about three miles from my parents' house heading for the woods. We've had fliers posted, my parents are teachers and have told their students, and all the authorities know there's a dog from California loose in the area.