These are characteristics of the Shiba Inu, the beautiful local Japanese dog breed. They are the smallest of the six types of Spitz breed in Japan, and need I say they are super cute? They have thick, fluffy fur and a soft bear-like face - I swear some of them smile.
We have two dogs at the house currently and especially Yuka's dog Hakubei is a big favorite with Lili. Hakubei loves chewing on gravel (to each his own), and one of the games we play is to have Hakubei sit, and throw a piece of gravel in the air for Hakubei to do an acrobatic jump to catch it in the air. And then we repeat this -over and over again. Another special event is to take Hakubei for a walk. Lili gets to hold the telescopic leash - and true to its nature of keenness, Hakubei pulls and leads the way.
Now if the adult Shibas are cute, the puppies are doubly so. It so happens that maybe three houses down the road from us there is a dog breeder. Hakubei and many other dogs in town are from there. One day as Dante and Lili were biking back home, the owner came out to the driveway and brought one of the puppies out for Lili to hold (just like that - one more act of kindness of the locals to us). Lili came home panting with excitement - nearly unable to get the words out to tell me about the experience. The breeder's house has ever since been known as 'the Puppy House' and we stop to meet the puppies every now and then. They are lovely.