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Image: Dogs
SFShiba
Who's a sleepy puppy? Is it you? Is it you? Yes you is a sweepy puppy!
Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 11/21/2008 8:50:40 AM ET 2008-11-21T13:50:40

In a few short weeks it will be over, and then how will we go on? Think about out. Four million Shibu Inu Puppy Cam fans worldwide gained inner peace simply by tuning into Ustream.tv to watch the real-time streaming video exploits of six adorable pups on their way to doghood.

Alas, we can’t help but see what’s coming — even though we’re all loath to admit it. Autumn, Ayumi, Amaya (the girls) and Aki, Akoni and Ando (the boys) turned only six weeks old on Nov. 18, yet grow less puppy-like every day.

Sure they still nap like babies and have yet to develop any sense of personal space (Oh, is that your head? I will step/sit/chew on it).

But their once Ewok-shaped heads are growing more elegant and defined. Soon they’ll be off to their “Forever Homes,” already adopted by loving families before most of the planet knew these pups existed. Thanks to the surprise hit of the Fall Internet season, Ustream.tv is outfitting each puppy’s new family with its own Doggie Cams so we can continue to watch their exploits as the mature.

Even as the end of Puppy Cam nears, how much do we really know about the puppies? The couple who are the puppies’ people parents never foresaw this kind of popularity — and even now amid the media hubbub, they wish to remain anonymous. Still, Technotica was lucky enough to score an e-mail interview with the “Puppy Wranglers,” so we can all learn a little bit more about those fuzzy faces we’ve grown to love.

Technotica: Why Puppy Cam?

Puppy Wrangler: The Shiba Inu Puppy Cam was simply a way in which my wife and I could check in on our pups to make sure they were safe while we were away from the house. A coworker spied the Webcam on one of my monitors and asked if they could get the link. After that, it appears it took off like that old Breck commercial from the 1970's, "You told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so and and ..."

T: Have you done “life casting” before?

PW: Outside of watching “The Truman Show,” no, we have not.

T: Were you surprised at the response? 

PW: Surprised is the understatement of the year. We had no idea it would become such a worldwide phenomenon.

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T: What’s the weirdest or most surprising thing that’s happened since the Puppy Cam went “viral?”

PW: Besides being viewed by people in over 40 countries around the globe? Well, we are definitely humbled by the many stories we receive from people about how the puppies have helped them through tough times.

T: What should people enchanted with the puppies know about Shiba Inus before considering adopting one?

PW: Shibas are generally (a) very independent and intelligent dog breed. Most Shibas must always be on a leash or in an enclosed area because of their tendency to have a strong prey drive. However, early socialization with various types of other animals, people, places and things while they are still young will help them later on in life.

T: Would a Shibu Inu be a good dog for the Obama daughters in the White House?

PW: Honestly, it is probably not my first recommendation as I have been told that the Obama daughters require a hypoallergenic dog. Additionally, most of Shiba Inus must be kept on leash or in a secured/fenced location due to their high prey drive. We do wish the Obamas the best in choosing the right dog for their family.

T: What do people ask most about the puppies (my bet is their sleep schedule)?

PW: The most common question is, "Can I have one?"

To that we ask that interested people really do their research on the breed, any dog breed for that manner, before making both a monetary and life-long investment. As in any relationship you want to make sure that the breed fits YOUR temperament and lifestyle.

Once you have one picked, do not immediately run off and go to the local pet store to purchase a puppy/dog. Spend a little time researching reputable breeders as they strive in each breeding to achieve the highest quality possible, relative to the breed standard for conformation, temperament and health by breeding only physically sound dogs of stable temperament that are free of known inheritable defects.

A pet store puppy, on the other hand, usually comes from puppy mills whose main goal is for making a profit regardless of genetic issues. And let us not forget that there are many wonderful Shibas that are waiting to be adopted from the various rescue organizations around the country (go here for more info on Shiba Rescue).

T: People in the chat area next to the Puppy Cam often express concern about how much the puppies sleep – but that’s just normal for puppies, right?

PW: The puppies sleep cycle is regulated by their little bodies and they are constantly growing. Much like a human baby the first stages of their life are generally about sleeping, eating and exploring their environment ... in that order. And don't you worry, we turn the Webcam and lights off each night to let the puppies get their beauty sleep.

T: Anything else puppy cam fans should know – about the puppies, the breed, etc.?

If people are interested in the breed I would recommend going to the National Shiba Club of America Web site or reading "Shiba Inus (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)" by Laura Payton.

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