Owner/Handler Kelsea E. Stafford Located in Mesa, AZ
Sabaku-Jō started as a branch of the entire Shikoku community. What was once just a small inquiry turned into complete adoration for the breed and those that were pooling their resources to preserve traditions and better the Shikoku health as a whole. The only thing lacking was the breed actively competing in canine sports here in the US. So I set about picking a few dogs that had good conformation and a temperament with a higher willingness to please, and compete. My dogs are raised in my home in Mesa, AZ, they travel the US competing in Conformation, Barn hunt, Lure coursing, FCAT, Precision Coursing, dock diving, and anything else they willing to try and enjoy. So far we have done over 40k miles of driving and over 50 competitions in just 3 years and don’t plan on stopping.
I started my journey in the world of Nihon Ken in 2013 rescuing a single Shiba Inu from a Florida kill shelter while serving in the USAF as a Security Police officer. Over the next 10 years and multiple moves due to my job I ended up serving as the largest and most successful Shiba Inu rehabilitationist in the US, even opening my own organization AZSIRRT in Arizona in 2015. My passion for the Nihon Ken has only grown with the knowledge that there were breeds that were suffering due to a small gene pool as result of their near extermination in the 1940’s during the occupation of Japan. After much research as to which of the lesser known Nihon Ken would fit my lifestyle, I fell in love with the Shikoku. What I didn't know is that I would gain so much more than a dog. The community itself was very open, honest, and helpful. They even encouraged me to consider breeding here in the US. So I changed my focus from rescue to conservation, then under the amazing guidance of the NASC and its members imported two dogs from the opposite side of the world in 2019, with plans for more in the following years. I have never forgotten my beginnings and still offer my experience to rescues housing shibas and now foster all nihon ken at no cost. In 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic I even stepped forward to successfully rehabilitate and place an imported Shikoku from Japan suffering from prior physical and emotional abuse named Mar. My passion for these amazing dogs is the driving force to creating performance shikoku here in the US. In September of 2021 I was even invited into the prestigious core group of the North American Shikoku Club in a position to be apart of the Shikoku's future in the US. I am eternally amazed at the people behind these breeds and just hope I can make them proud.