Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain
by Martha Sherrill
The dog man of the title is Morie Sawataishi, famed breeder and champion of akitas.
While working as an engineer for Mitsubishi in far northern Japan during World War II, he became fascinated by this hardy dog breed, one of the oldest in the world. Because of wartime shortages (many of the dogs were eaten or used to make fur vests for the military), the breed had dwindled to just a few animals.
Sawataishi illegally kept one hidden, and, as soon as the war ended, he began working to strengthen and expand the breed. His fame and that of his dogs soon spread, and his champions were winning dog shows around Japan.
After retirement, Sawataishi continued working and living with his dogs, hiking in remote mountains, and even hunting bears. Novelist Sherrill offers great insight not only into one man and his dogs, but into an older, rural way of life unfamiliar to Westerners for whom Japan symbolizes fast-paced urban life and the latest technology.