Holloway Akita nominated for Crufts award despite breed being ‘demonised’

Robert Stuhldreer and Flora, who has been nominated for the Friends for Life competition at Crufts 2

Robert Stuhldreer and Flora, who has been nominated for the Friends for Life competition at Crufts 2014 - Credit: Archant

A dog lover has come to the defence of Akitas after one was destroyed for a vicious attack in Holloway last year.

Last week Ali Derin, 55, of Axminster Road, was banned from owning a dog forever, after his giant hound attacked a terrified postie in September – scarring her for life.

Akitas, which are bred to hunt bears and have a bite with a similar pressure to square inch ratio to that of a lion, have become the latest status pets reared for violence.

But another Holloway resident Robert Stuhldreer, whose Akita Flora has been nominated the prestigious Friends for Life competition at Crufts 2014, says the breed are in danger of becoming misunderstood.

Mr Stuhldeer, 53, of Dunford Road, said: “It’s really sad, I can do 100 positive things with Flora but it just takes one incident and the entire breed is demonised as a devil dog.

“Akita’s are very primitive dogs and one of the oldest breeds – they’re independent by nature.

“Unfortunately they’re beautiful puppies people see them and buy them without research and after a year they’ve taken over the house.

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“It’s all about very early training – they’re not a dog for first time owners.”

Mr Stuhldeer has owned Akitas for 16 years and he and Flora go in to schools across London to work with children with behavioural problems.

She has also appeared in stage productions such as Annie the musical and been shown at Crufts, the world’s premier dog show.

“The first time we went into a school we were asked if we could go in and see a girl that had learning difficulties before we held the main session,” said Mr Stuhldeer.

“At first she was running around but when she noticed that Flora was not reacting she calmed down immediately.

“The teachers wanted her to leave before the main session started but I asked if she could stay and when the session started she just lay by Flora for almost an hour.

“Her teachers could not believe it and said it was lovely to see. For me it was quite emotional.”

The Friends for Life competition celebrates the heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, where dogs have truly earned the title of man’s best friend, through bravery, support or companionship.

Crufts 2014, which is run by the Kennel Club, takes place between March 6 and 9 at the NEC Arena in Birmingham. The winner of the Friends for Life competition will be presented with the trophy by Chris Amoo, dog lover and 70s pop sensation with the band ‘The Real Thing’.