by Yukiya Sakuragi; adapted by Ian Reid
published by Viz; $9.99 US
When we last left dog whisperer Suguri, she, her dog Lupin, and three other dog owners and their pets were taking a vacation together. At a country lodge, they encounter another visitor with four huge dogs — Newfoundland, Great Dane, Leonberger, and Great Pyrenees — as well as an unwelcome guest: a bear!
When Suguri returns, she discovers that her boss Teppei has taken his purebred black Labrador Noa (which is how Suguri and Teppei met) to be bred. That leads into the meat of the book, which tackles the question of mating. Suguri sentimentally wanted Noa and Lupin to have puppies together, but Lupin’s a mutt, so the dogs wouldn’t have much value and their size and health can’t be predicted. Plus, customers in Tokyo don’t want big dogs unless they can brag about them, so the puppies would be hard to find homes for.
Suguri, using the lessons she learned at the farm in book 9, helps Noa have her puppies, but she’s torn. She really wants the brave Lupin to reproduce, but that may not be the best decision. Puppies are cute, but they don’t stay puppies for long, and dog ownership is an important responsibility. (That’s the core message of the series.) There are plenty of unwanted animals put to sleep, and owners shouldn’t contribute to that problem by not thinking through their choices.
Then, though, things get a little weird, as Suguri talks about the decision in terms of “Lupin’s first love” and his “girlfriend”, confusing human rituals with animal instincts. Also creepy: mention of a breed where the dog has been shaped in such a way that purebreds can only give birth through C-section with human assistance. The debate between Suguri and Teppei that follows these concepts reads to me as very Japanese, especially once customer Kim gets involved (even though he’s Korean).
I understand your feelings … but … I am not wrong either. Let’s be rational. It’s hard to say who’s wrong and who’s right.
But then each of them thinks to himself that they know they’re right and how they won’t change their beliefs because it’s so important. It was an interesting glance into a different culture, and how they argue even when animal lives are at stake. They’re acting as parents, not pet-owners, and trying to make decisions based on what will bring the best future for everyone.
Getting unwanted dogs adopted is a tough topic, and one that I’m glad to see this series tackle. So much of it so far has been about the pet store and buying purebreds, and that desire to have a “clean” dog, both in history and parentage, is part of the problem. It’s tough to adopt a dog when you don’t know how they may have been abused, but many “mutts” are hardier and happier than breeds with built-in health issues. Having to find a good home for a larger dog gives Suguri the experience both in understanding how large pets function in a crowded city and in saying goodbye to an animal she cares about.
This volume is very dog-heavy, with lots of pet-focused events, images, and different breeds discussed and shown. Since that’s why I read the series — to experience some of the ups and downs of dog ownership — I loved it. The art does a fantastic job of capturing how the different types of dogs look and behave as they interact, and I enjoyed seeing the variety — big dogs, little ones, adults, puppies, working animals, and pets.
Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs Book 14 is due out October 20. A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.