A Bear of a Dog

Some dogs are bigger than others. And some may seem dangerous but actually are so kind that they couldn’t kill a fly. Francesco’s American Akita Mitch, 7, is such a bear, but as sweet and gentle as can be. Why Francesco loves his “little one” more every day is not so much of a mystery: Mitch reminds him of his father. Not just because their birthday is on the same day, the 13th of december

Akitas seem to have a bit of a reputation. What is your Mitch like?
They may not be the best dog for beginners. Even I wasn’t quite sure if he wouldn’t be too much of a challenge. But Mitch is a very affectionate and calm dog, he loves being with his family and stay home. Sometimes we can’t even tell where he is in the house, because he’s so quiet, always sleeping somewhere! Then when you go find and cuddle him he rolls on his back and kicks his feet like a newborn.
However, he is a very proud, independent, touchy dog. And he always has been from the very first day. Maybe because there was a special feeling between us from when we first met. He was a puppy, and from all of his brothers and sisters he was the only one who immediately came to me to say Hi. They say
‘a dog chooses his master’ and not the other way round. In my case it’s true. Maybe we became his “therapy family”: All his worries seem to remain outside when we’re all together.

Is there anything you learned from him?
Sure there is! To love unconditionally without asking for anything or very little in return. To settle for the small things in life – if shared with the one you love.

Who would he be if he wasn’t a dog?
Good question. I don’t want to be sentimental but probably my father. They’ve got the same meek and affectionate character. And, of course, because they were born on the same day: December 13th

Anything about Mitch that annoys you sometimes?
Waking up at dawn with his big paw on my face. Like saying: ‘Take me for a walk please!’ I give in and off we go, for a run on the beach. There’s no better way to start the day.

What do you tell people who are scared of Mitch just because he is so big?
I often meet people who at first seem scared of him. With his 55 kilos he is just overwhelming! It’s mostly adults who are a bit cautious, the kids usually love him, want to embrace him, kiss him all over. Mitch has never done any harm to anyone but … any other dog could get annoied by those things. So I often find myself explaining dogs’ behaviour to kids which for me is nice and for them it’s important. Mitch takes it all with the greatest calm and lets his eyes speak. This way he kills all the tension that there may have been.