It’s good to be home; Meeting Miki Saito in Tokyo

December 24, 2011 at 7:08 am 8 comments

I was away from Boogie for almost 3 weeks and it’s so good to be home! I missed my boy!

[photos taken at the vet today. Staph infection all cleared up! :)]

While I was away visiting family and friends in Malaysia and Japan, Boogie stayed with my friend Christa in her new house, which has a huge backyard. Christa reported that Boogie LOVED running around in the backyard, and I’m sure the squirrels made things a lot more fun. At first, we were a little worried about the cranky German Shepherd next door, left outside to patrol the fence throughout the day (It sucks when people leave their dogs outside all day!) but then Christa came up with the brilliant idea to cover the entire fence with tarpaulin so that the dogs wouldn’t be able to see each other… and thankfully, there were no issues.

Christa and Butch also celebrated Boogie’s birthday (December 11th) with a Pumpkin Sesame Birthday Cake. What a lucky boy.

When I was in Tokyo, I had the pleasure of meeting dog trainer Miki Saito, who specializes in training blind dogs because her own dog Nono, is blind. I first met Miki online when she translated several of my illustrations to Japanese. (for example – How Not To Greet A Dog in Japanese)

Miki is such a lovely person and we had a great time having lunch, chatting, and walking around Daikanyama and Shibuya. I learned from her that in Japan, Positive Reinforcement training (which is what Miki does) is still extremely rare. Almost all trainers still believe in Dominance methods using force and intimidation, and most owners of blind dogs feel pity for their dogs and think of themselves as being trapped in a tragic situation, when in reality, blind dogs are HAPPY DOGS and have the ability to live, learn and communicate as confidently as sighted dogs.

I remember my foster boston terrier Rocky (RIP). He came to me completely blind and he was the sweetest, smiliest, happiest and smartest boy! He learned to “shake hands” in about TWO MINUTES! (It took Boogie much longer, something like 20 minutes to learn this)

After weeks of staying with me, even though Rocky still had the habit of bumping into furniture, he could locate squeaky tennis balls and treats from ANYWHERE.

According to Miki,  in Japan, most dog owners regard their tiny pups  (most popular breeds: toy poodles, chihuhuas, mini doxies) as accessories rather than as intelligent members of the family. People will gladly spend more money on dog clothing and bling than on training. Well, I think the same thing happens in Hollywood. I suppose most people think of “training” as something you are forced to do when your dog has a problem, rather than as something you would invest in for fun, for bonding, or effective communication…

Well, no post on Japan would be complete without pictures of cool and crazy dog-related stuff.

Princess  and Jack Sparrow outfits, anyone? (!)

And then there were these amazingly cute dog treats from the Green Dog pet store.

These treats are  a gift for Boogie and me…

Thank you, Miki !!! – Lili & Boogie xox

If you are in Japan or know any dog owners in Japan, you can get in touch with Miki Saito via her websites:

Entry filed under: Apparel, Birthday, Cool Products.

Boogie is a DINOS (“Dogs In Need of Space”) National Train Your Dog Month: training resolutions

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Miki  |  December 24, 2011 at 10:06 am

    The pleasure is all mine! It was great to meet you 🙂
    Also Rocky is cute ❤ I especially love the photos playing meat toy and sleeping on your belly on flickr.
    I'm looking forward to seeing you again.

    • 2. lili  |  December 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm

      Look forward to seeing you again, Miki. Hopefully you can make it to LA soon! 🙂 I am also going to look up Terry Ryan, whom you spoke about. There was another trainer you mentioned… I can’t remember the name…

  • 3. Elisabeth Weiss  |  December 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience meeting Miki. I have known and worked with several blind dogs. They adjust incredibly well and nobody would ever have known that they were blind until they looked directly into their eyes. Lolabelle, the keyboard playing dog who is featured on my blog was blind. She learned to retrieve plastic bottles from the kitchen cabinet and learned to open and close the cabinet doors and pull tissues out of a box while blind. She was even able to generalize those skills and was able to do it in many different houses.

    • 4. lili  |  December 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm

      I visited your blog and saw the Lola video… WOW!!!! I didn’t know she was blind. Elisabeth – so pleased to ‘meet’ you! What you do is so impressive!

  • 5. Elisabeth Weiss  |  December 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Thank you Lili. I hope we can combine talents:)

    • 6. lili  |  December 26, 2011 at 9:00 am

      I can’t wait! 🙂

      • 7. Elisabeth Weiss  |  December 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm

        Hi! My thoughts are a whirlwind…but I think things are coming together…in terms of the content…

  • […] Miki sent me this Suzanne Clothier’s article on Thresholds: It’s More Than Under Or Over   which I think it super helpful. ( Made me think of the Good-Cheap-Fast  diagram… it’s a balancing act!) […]


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