Big barks for our Dogster pack member, Kitai!
Thanks to the San Jose Mercury News for this article.
‘Cutest dog ever’ gains fame for a cause
By Cathy Weselby
Bay Area News Group
Article Launched: 11/15/2007
Stacie Tamaki has found love with a shelter dog, and she wants to share that affection with others.
Kitai (pronounced “key-tie”) was a year old when Tamaki adopted him from the Humane Society Silicon Valley. The name Kitai is Japanese for “to hope with confident anticipation.” And, living up to his name, this scruffy canine has become an ambassador that gives hope to other shelter dogs.
It wasn’t love at first sight. Her previous dog was a 110-pound Beauceron, and she was searching for a similar breed. She saw little Kitai lying in his kennel with his head on his paws and immediately dismissed him. Then she read his cage card and saw that he had already been at the shelter for two weeks and was in danger of being euthanized. She had a change of heart.
She took him out to the play area, and Kitai ignored her because he was preoccupied with the other dogs. Tamaki returned the next day and observed Kitai for three hours. This time, she had the opportunity to go to an area with fewer distractions, and Kitai immediately started playing with her. That clinched the deal.
Kitai is the first dog Tamaki has adopted from a shelter.
“I always thought shelter dogs were problem dogs,” says Tamaki, who moved her business from downtown Campbell to the Internet, until she met an American Eskimo dog and was pleasantly surprised when she learned he was rescued from a shelter.
Now, when people ask her “What kind of dog is he?” she responds with, “He’s a rescue from the shelter,” to help build awareness that shelter dogs are cute.
Happy-go-lucky Kitai has a calm disposition and doesn’t bark much. She thinks he’s a mix between a Lhasa Apso and a wire-haired terrier.
“He loves playing with toys, and his favorite toy is his newest toy,” Tamaki says. “He’ll even go on walks carrying his toys.”
She socialized him by walking him in downtown Campbell every day and then on Sundays along the sidewalk at the more crowded farmers market. Soon she was taking him with her everywhere.
As their love grew, Tamaki designed costumes for Kitai to wear, taught him tricks, and created a website that pays homage to the lovable mutt, www.cutestdogever.com.
One of her costume creations, a takeoff on Cesar Millan of Dog Whisperer fame, won her a trip to New York to be on the “Today Show.” Kitai was one of five finalists to appear on the Oct. 31 show, but didn’t clinch the grand prize.
“It would have been nice if he’d won, but I think he’ll manage,” Tamaki says. “He was perfectly happy with the consolation goodie bag prize.”
While waiting backstage, one of the producers said, “Matt’s just got to see your dog.” Tamaki turned around and there was Lauer, coffee cup in hand, smiling at Kitai.
“He leads quite an exciting life,” Tamaki says.
Tamaki has started a Cutest Dog Ever Spay and Neuter fund. She’s working with the Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority to apply the funds for people to spay or neuter their dog or cat at no charge.
Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority executive director Dan Soszynski says the low-cost spay and neuter clinic opened on Nov. 7 for residents of Campbell, Monte Sereno and Santa Clara. It costs $30 for dogs and $10 for cats.
“Even though our prices are relatively low, some people may not be able to afford the services,” Soszynski said. “Stacie’s fund will close that gap.”
The clinic is open one day a week, but Soszynski’s goal is to expand the service to more days, as more funds for staffing become available.
Tamaki says Soszynski has been very helpful in mentoring her on how to start a charitable fund. She has raised $1,750 to date.