By Rikki Cheese, news anchor for KNXT, Channel 13

“You know, Akitas kill.”
It was said so quietly, I almost didn’t catch it. I was too busy watching 10 month old Apollo being pushed around by another puppy in puppy class.

“You know, Akitas kill.”
The second time, it was said with more certainty. I looked at the woman to my left. Now that she had my attention, she repeated herself.

“You know, Akitas kill.”
I snapped. Apollo is the third Akita I’d raised in classes at this particular dog gym, and I was tired of other owners projecting breed prejudice based on anecdotes.

“Have you ever seen an Akita kill?”

“No, but…”

I didn’t let her say another word. As I very quietly, but intensely, told her what I thought about the opinion I didn’t solicit, her friend leaned forward and said, “Hey, you’re Rikki Cheese!”

Too late. I had already unleashed the verbal hounds.

It was a very good lesson, and one I hope to share. I’ve become very active in the dog world through constant training with my Akitas. My family always had dogs growing up, but I never experienced the acute divisions until now. Animal lovers who rescue dogs aren’t always fans of people who buy. Animal lovers who like mixed-breeds aren’t always fans of people who prefer pure-bred dogs. Snake fans aren’t always fans of lizard owners. Lion, tiger and other big cat fans aren’t always fans of, let’s face it, everyone else!

In retrospect, I am not much better than the woman who spoke badly about my Akitas. My trainers are quick to point out that I’ve been quoted as saying “Chihuahuas are mean.”
The point is, we all have our own perspectives about our pets and other people’s pets.

The perspectives I’ve encountered in my dog-related travels over the past seven years also opened my eyes to the world of exotic pets, including dogs and cats, big and small, and every conceivable pet from gerbils to pythons.

Let’s talk about the differences between service animals and therapy animals. Let’s talk about how vital spay and neuter policies are to eliminating pet euthanasia, and to the overall health of all of our pets. Let’s talk about the challenges of raising children with pets. Raising my fur-kids is enough of a second job. Women who raise both are my heroes.

In fact, one of my heroes is the reason why I am writing now for Las Vegas Woman magazine. Action News Anchor Beth Fisher has held this post for years. Her plate was already pretty full with a husband, two kids and a St. Bernard, and she’s very active in her church and the Southern Nevada community.

She has also become the point person for Channel 13’s website, PositivelyLV and produces and writes the stories about locals who are Making Las Vegas a Better Place to Live. With her added responsibilities, I was given the opportunity to live a dream of writing for print. Thanks Beth, and thank you all for spending time with her, and hopefully now, with me on these pages.

People who are passionate about animals usually have strong opinions. I want to hear and share stories from all sides. I also want to focus on the challenges of raising families in Southern Nevada, whether they are two-legged kids, four-legged kids, or have feathers, fur or fangs. Let’s have fun together, and educate each other here on the pages of Las Vegas Woman magazine.

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