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by Dannielle Malcolm

Bakersfield CA - April 1, 2007 - Police were called today to the Kern County Fairgrounds to investigate an incident involving an Akita dog and a 9 year old child. The American Kennel Club sanctions the event, held by the Kern County Kennel Club annually. Thousands of exhibitors and spectators were in attendance.

According to witnesses, the child was walking near the show rings unsupervised when she suddenly came face to face with the 110 lb Akita dog. The child threw her arms around the dog's neck, reports say, when the unthinkable happened. The dog began enthusiastically licking the girl's face as his tail wagged briskly.

"It was awful", said one bystander, "there was nothing we could do. That dog was just giving that child every once of love he had and no one did a thing to stop it". Another witness, who took video of the event, said "This happens all the time; I don't know how it hasn't made the news before now".

One spectator, who declined to be named, told reporters "The sounds were just heart wrenching, all that laughing and giggling. It made me smile so hard my face hurts. I plan to sue for pain and suffering".

The handler of the dog admits this is not the first time such an incident has occurred, and that the owners were "well aware of the stable, loving and patient temperament of this dog". She further admitted that she would continue to permit the dog to act in this manner in the future. The owners were unavailable for comment.

The five year old male Akita apparently has a history of sudden, unanticipated acts of joy. The large, powerful dog has been sighted at a number of recent events happily greeting fanciers and families. “I don’t know why we are being singled out”, stated the handler, “I’ve seen dozens of other Akitas acting in the exact same way.” She went on to offer examples of similar incidents involving Rottweillers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, and more. “If people just opened their eyes to the social side of these beautiful dogs, these incidents wouldn’t seem so random or surprising.”

Akitas are a member of the AKC’s Working Group, a classification of dogs who are renowned for providing specialized services and tasks to their owners. Akitas, which originated in the Honshu district of Japan, were revered for their hunting and guarding abilities, intense loyalty, and are even said to babysit their family's children.

Police state that the handler, who was noticeably unrepentant, was cited for Reckless Entertainment. The Akita dog was given roasted chicken treats and was not taken into custody.

Dannielle Romeo is a handler and trainer with a lifetime of experience in dogs. She is active in legislative issues concerning pet owners' rights and responsibilities. Dannielle has a long history of volunteer work and employment with non-profit organizations, has participated in multiple Board positions in local breed clubs,  and is active in rescue efforts.  She currently operates a small show and working dog kennel under the name Black Knight Akitas and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Dannielle choose the name to reflect her overall character and that of her dogs; "The Black Knight was not bound to any Lord, but to his own Code of Honor, choosing justice over personal glory."  In recognition of that spirit she calls these columns "Crusades".