Dog People / Jen Ha + Hoku from HelloHoku


Jen Ha / Visual + UX Designer

Dog’s name/Age/Breed:
Hoku / Age 4 / Shiba Inu

hellohoku_04 What made you decide to get a dog? 
About three years ago, I moved from New York City to San Diego to be with my fiance (now husband). I worked from home out of our tiny one bedroom apartment, which meant days spent by myself in a new city while David worked long hours in his first year of residency at the UCSD Medical Center. I had never really considered myself a “dog person” before but suddenly found myself warming up to the idea of a pup to keep me company, give my days a sense of routine, and encourage me to spend more time outdoors. My husband had grown up with dogs, so he was on board with the idea from the beginning. I liked that shiba inus were calm, clean and had temperaments that suited my personality, so I started looking into adopting one. A couple weeks later, we picked Hoku up from Riverside and the rest is history!


hellohoku_02 Tell us about the first time you met Hoku.
He was really calm and shy. He kept a good distance from us, but would walk over to sniff us and check us out every few minutes. All the other dogs around him were really high energy and there were all these puppies jumping all over him but he was as cool as a cucumber.

hellohoku_08 What’s the last thing he did that made you laugh?
He loves to sleep in between me and my husband even though he has his own dog bed. He’ll jump on our bed in the middle of the night and literally wedge his 20lb body between us like a sausage. I’ve woken up with a paw on my face more times that I can count. We also crack up every time he yawns because it’s always super loud and obnoxious.

What are your favorite characteristics about your dog?
He loves fruits and vegetables, especially those with a crunch like cucumbers, carrots, zucchinis, watermelon and bell peppers to name a few. David and I love gardening so we make sure that most of what we grow in our garden is dog appropriate. Hoku also enjoys the great outdoors as much as we do and can hike for hours without tiring. Last Spring, we made it to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio, the tallest peak in Southern California. It took us 11.5 soul-crushing hours over 18 miles. Hoku took a quick nap after we got home and woke up later that afternoon pretty much ready to climb another mountain. This year, we made it our goal as a pack to reach all the highest dog-friendly peaks in SoCal with Hoku. Eventually, we hope to make it to the highest point in the continental US a dog is allowed to go, which I believe is Mt. Elbert at 14,440ft in Colorado.

hellohoku_01 hellohoku_05

Does Hoku have a nickname? If so, how did he get it?
A lot of his nicknames start with the letter B. Aside from the typical “Boy” and “Baby,” we also call him “Ball” for the way he curls up into a ball when he sleeps…so lately it’s just been “B”!

hellohoku_07 Where do you shop for your dog (online shops, stores, etc)?
We buy almost everything from Amazon. (Honestly, how did people shop before Amazon Prime?) I also love checking out pet shops when traveling, especially internationally, and will usually pick up new toys for him wherever we go.

Are there any dog products you especially love/couldn’t live without?
On a daily basis, we can’t live without his Ezydog harness (the only harness he hasn’t been able to escape out of), Ezydog lite leash, and a simple dog brush (he sheds a lot). For hiking, we love his Surepaw Dog Gear rope leash and Gulpy water bottle.

hellohoku_03 hellohoku_10 What does being a “Dog Person” mean to you?I still don’t know if I consider myself the true definition of a “dog person,” but I am “Hoku’s person” and a lot of who I am today has been shaped by having him in my life. He’s taught me a great deal about patience and responsibility. When we first brought Hoku home at the age of 2, he was retiring from a show dog life, had no real obedience training and was extremely reactive. We wanted nothing more than for him to experience all the joys of being a real dog and were persistent with working through his issues despite all the frustrating/ tearful/ embarrassing days that made us want to throw in the towel. It took 3 months of desensitization training for him to finally be able to walk confidently around the block. For a whole year, I wrote down every single milestone in a notebook that I still look back on to remind me of how far we’ve come. And now, just couple years later, he is happily climbing mountains with us, has dog friends, travels with us around Cali (and recently flew with us all the way to New York City), likes to stick his head out the car window, and chases lizards like a pro. We couldn’t be prouder.

What’s one piece of advice you would tell someone looking to get a dog?
Having a dog isn’t always the fun, happy moments posted on Instagram. There’s a lot of hard work involved behind the scenes, like carving out time every day for walks, play and training, no matter how busy life gets. The companionship of a dog is one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences a person can have in life.

Thank Jen! For more of Jen + Hoku, visit their Instagram @HelloHoku, or their blog