Diversity Lessons from Kinu


Kinu Nov. 23, 1997 - Dec 12, 2009


It is said that the only fault of dogs, is that they don’t live very long.   

Kinu, our beloved Akita, lived to the prime “old age” of 12 years. If it is to be believed, in human years he was 84.   

Kireisa’s Little Big Man “Kinu” pranced across the Rainbow Bridge on Saturday, Dec 12 at high Noon. He was surrounded by his human family to the very end, his head in my lap.   

Kinu is Japanese for silk and his soft coat aptly fit the description. He was a gentle giant – once tipping the scale at a robust 120 lbs – with a kind soul and big heart. He loved small yappy dogs and children; being always gentle and patient with them.   

He came from good stock: His father was American Champion Big-O Thunderheart “Murphy” of Kokomo; his mother, Kireisa’s Champagne Dream “Moka” was descended from a long line of American and Canadian Champions.   

So you see, when he walked proudly with his head held high and his unusual double-curled tail swishing from side to side, he came about it honestly.   

But the show ring wasn’t the place for Kinu. On his first appearance he promptly goosed a surprised judge. He didn’t win, but the judge remarked how “well organized” he was. Whatever that means.   

Kinu’s place, however, was at home with family and friends; chasing balls and squirrels, sniffing out mice, catching snowflakes or burrowing into snow banks in winter. He was our Snow Dragon.   

He loved to “talk” too, giving a hearty “A-r-r-o-i-n-g “every morning before his first walk of the day.   

Like a phantom limb,Kinu will be greatly missed.   

In a world full of diversity, Kinu taught me and those he met many things. Among them:   

Be open to new experiences:  He enjoyed long walks to discover new people and places. He especially loved going for drives in the car.   

Be welcoming of others: He took it as a personal affront if strangers walked by without saying “hello” to him.   

Be curious…about everything: Everyday was an opportunity to discover new things. No matter how large the area, he was able to spot the one new thing present and promptly went to investigate it.   

Focus on small things: He was endlessly fascinated with round things – balls, stones, etc .   

Listen well: He would tilt his head from side to side when he was talked to, as if not wanting to miss a single word being said to him.    

Enjoy the great outdoors: One of his greatest joys was to take off into the nearby conservation area from time to time. Of course this caused tremendous anxiety among the family, but his Guardian Angel always sent him home safely.   

Be brave and loyal: Even at a few months old he would “block” the path of strangers, putting himself between them and us.   

Protect those who cannot protect themselves: Kinu didn’t bark a lot but when he did, it shook the house. Sometimes he just quietly watched a stranger through a window from inside the house to figure out their “next move.”   

Leave your mark: He never met a tree or vertical object that he didn’t like. He always left his “mark.”   

 We all could learn a lot from dogs if we only we paid attention.   

Good boy Kinu…good boy!

Recommended Posts
Showing 32 comments
  • Minelle Mahtani

    I think this is a poignant, bittersweet and thoughtful commentary on the loss of a beloved pet. My thoughts are with you and Cynthia and I will remember Kinu fondly.

  • excellent lessons, indeed! though I challenge your comment about protection. I distinctly recall him hiding behind me, when encountering a new person in the woods!

  • Lorraine Burch

    Hamilin, what a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog! My heart grieves with yours and your family’s, as your words bring to mind so many memories of his mother Moka, and others who have already crossed the Bridge before him. May your spirit fly free, Kinu, and to Hamlin and Cynthia, may your heavy hearts soon lift with the joy that precious memories will bring. Thank you for loving him as you did.

    Lorraine Burch (Kinu’s breeder)

  • Debra Roppolo

    Oh, Hamlin…What a beautiful post. I’m so sorry about Kinu. It’s so hard to say goodbye to our beautiful four-legged companions, I know. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  • Cynthia Reyes

    I will always remember the immigrant family, on a walk in our new (urban)neighborhood who made the mistake of not stopping to greet Kinu, who had already sat down to greet and be greeted. Kinu very obviously stared back at them and made a strange, questioning sound. The woman turned back and said: “What’s wrong with him?” I replied: “He wants you to say good morning.” She was stunned, but she, her husband and two kids came back, and following my instruction,dutifully sang out, in Chinese-accented English: “Good morning, Kinu!” Kinu happily wagged his tail in greeting. The family then continued on their walk, all the while laughing and looking back at Kinu and me in astonishment. What they didn’t know is that all of our previous neighbors in the countryside had loved this huge bear of a dog so thoroughly that the ritual of respect and greeting was now part of Kinu’s approach to dealing with others. Kinu was always shocked that other dogs would sometimes want to growl and fight. He considered such behaviour totally unnecessary.

  • andrew wood

    I know that Kinu was a wonderful dog and that
    he will be greatly missed by his parents
    (Hamlin and Cynthia). He will now be relaxing
    in doggy heaven.Just remember he gave so much
    pleasure to all he met……Andrew

  • lreyesgrange

    Just beautiful, Dad.
    I’m so happy you wrote this 🙂

  • Shakura

    Dear Hamlin & Cynthia, my heart is with you during your time of loss. I think the saying that speaks of dog being man’s best friend didn’t realize what peace our gentle beast bring to all genders-my puppy Lulu is my blanket. At 130lbs or so she does not, cannot, may not lay over me, but the comfort that she gives me warms me more that any bed spread ever could-I thank you for sharing your memories and I will remember Kinu’s lessons for a long time…much love, shakura

  • Stephanie & Darryl Workman

    We are devastated for your loss; Having only met Kinu 3 times, his sweetness made a profound impact on us, which is why we have Cooper. I cannot imagine a more loving, patient and gentle pet as an Akita – especially one like Kinu. Your words were a beautiful tribute to a beautiful animal.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Cynthia & your family at this very painful and difficult time.

  • Marian Falconer

    I am so very sorry to learn of Kinu’s death. He was such a lovely animal. I remember him gently herding Steph at your place and him “speaking” to us when he couldn’t come down the basement. I ended up sitting at the top of the stairs with his head in my lap. I have lost a number of beloved pets and my heart goes out to you. I am writing this with tears in my eyes after having read your beautiful tribute to him.

  • Sylvia Vollenhoven

    I feel like I’ve lost a friend and one that I met only recently at that… At some level there’s so little difference between losing a pet and losing a person. Hamba Kahle Kinu… Go well!

  • Stephanie MacKendrick

    Oh Hamlin, you have captured so beautifully your beloved Kinu. But beyond that, you have articulated what a moving experience it is to have a dog who is truly part of the family and how difficult it is to say goodbye. You expressed what I found hard to put into words when we lost Buddy. I loved your lessons learned and when striving to accomplish the last, I will take care not to emulate Kinu too literally.

  • Edward Gajdel

    How profoundly we can be touched by a Spirit that needs no words to show his love and kindness. We all adored Kinu as we all knew how he adored us. Thank you Hamlin and Cynthia for loving this gentle giant as you did and know that by doing so he was able to extend that love to others.

  • Paddy & Jacqui

    We will miss him welcoming us whenever we come around to visit and to see him strolling so regally down Crayford on the daily walks.
    He was indeed the ‘gentle giant’.

  • Cynthia Reyes

    Reblogged this on Cynthia Reyes and commented:
    In memory of our sweet giant Kinu. Thanks to Hamlin for this post from December 2012.

    • Hamlin Grange

      Cynthia, thanks for reblogging this tribute to Kinu. I (and the entire family) miss him still.

  • Writing to Freedom

    Kinu sounds like a wonderful companion. And great life lessons. Thanks Hamlin.

    • Hamlin Grange

      You are most welcome. He was a great companion…and many lessons learned.

  • Some dogs leave those permanent prints on our hearts! Beautiful post!

    • Hamlin Grange

      Yes, they do latch on and never let go, don’t they? Thanks.

  • theshrubqueen

    Well, you people made me cry again! I love dogs and enjoyed reading of Kinu in your book. My big old greyhound Charles is almost 10, giving me pause. I hope you have a new canine friend.

    • Hamlin Grange

      Cherish Charles. I am sure you have had many great moments.

      • theshrubqueen

        Thanks, I do cherish Charles! Merry Christmas!

  • clarepooley33

    A wonderful, moving tribute to a well-loved member of your family.

    • Hamlin Grange

      Kinu was very special. Amazing how he imprinted on our hearts and minds.Thank you.

  • Gallivanta

    A lovely tribute to a faithful friend. Did you know that Helen Keller had Akitas? http://www.natural-akita.com/JPTeez/html/helen_keller.html They were her beloved companions.

  • Jessica & Jean

    What a wonderful tribute to Kinu. You were lucky to share those years with him and we know he will be fondly remembered. Our thoughts are with you. Jessica & Jean

  • knightwriter96

    What a heartwarming post, and he was such a beautiful animal! I really appreciate your descriptions of him. I love watching animals and their unique behavior that so mimics our human ones at times. Thanks for sharing such a lovely tribute of him with us! 🙂

    • Hamlin Grange

      Thank you Maxine. Kinu was very special. And he was suppose to be the “runt” of the litter. Just goes to show you. Have a wonderful day and Holiday Season.

  • The Coastal Crone

    So sorry for your loss. Yes, it is sad that we outlive many of our animal friends. But the lessons he left with stay with you. We are down to our last cat who is 15 years old.

    • Hamlin Grange

      Although it has been three years…the memories keep Kinu very much alive. Treasure your cat. I bet you have great stories to tell!

Skip to content