SHOPPERS AT Londons most exclusive department store got more than they bargained for last Saturday when Harrods of Knightsbridge once more opened its hallowed portals to the representatives of The Japanese Akita Welfare Trust and three examples of the breed to raise awareness of their charity, the breed and the problems therein.
The Trust had previously mounted a showcase day in Harrods in August and enjoyed it tremendously, so jumped at the chance of a repeat invitation. Fund raising for the charity was of course an added reason to be there.
For the duration of the day, Ken Smith, Lesley Hirstwood, and Robert Stuhldreer as Trust Representatives were ably supported by Maureen and Ron Price, Akita owners of a Welfare dog and champion fundraisers in their own right.
JAWT Co-Founder Ken Smith told OUR DOGS: "The day of course would not have been the same without our three shining stars, Robert's dog Max, his bitch Adora and our ever dependable Trust mascot, the lovely Emily who happens to have one ear missing.
Throughout a very long, hot day, all three of these beautiful dogs took every bit of attention that came their way and lapped it up! From children with prodding, sticky fingers to teenagers growling in mock anger, these loyal and devoted dogs never put a paw wrong.
Lying down when asked, sitting up when tempted with treats or to pose for pictures never depleted their good will resources once. These were three true ambassadors of the breed. In short, if all Akitas were so well behaved, the Trust would not need to exist.
"To say that the day was a rip roaring success would be an understatement. Not only did the staff, shopping public and tourists at large support the Trust financially, they fell for the breed hook line and sinker. Need we add that even Paul, the Harrods co-ordinator who invited us and who was very reserved with the dogs on our first visit, was by the end of the day laying full length of the floor with a dog in his arms! To round off a perfect day, we were all delighted to be asked back for our third visit in four months, a virtually unheard of situation in Harrods before!"
The Trust has co-ordinators working across the country, advising owners, rescuing and rehoming, and retraining Akitas. All the members of the Trust work for the Trust on a completely voluntary basis.
Robert Stuhldreer, co-ordinator of the JAWT said: "We take dogs from all of the UK main rescue organisations, RSPCA, Dogs Trust (NCDL), Battersea Dogs Home, and many County Councils' dog pounds, as well as advising them on the correct way of assessing Akita temperament.
"At this point in time the number of Akitas being taken into care is growing day by day, which is a great concern to all of us at the Trust. The only way we feel we can reverse this trend is to go forward with our education programme in the hope that this may save the lives of some of our magnificent dogs. To that end we have been invited to Harrods to put on a display about Akitas and help educate people as to their needs."
Ken Smith concluded of last Saturdays display: "Success is not only measured in money raised, although we did scoop a mighty £334.12, we also managed to persuade at least 10 people that the breed was NOT for them, place one Akita in a home where one had recently died and to top it all even managed to give out details for the re- homing of a Dartmoor Pony in a forever home! Im tempted to say Follow that!"
*For details of the Akita Trusts work, please contact Ken Smith on Tel: 01271 379337 or e-mail: Kenakitatrust@aol.com