Monday, December 05, 2011

adopt or foster

Here's a video that Susan made about some of the animals that we've been working for all these months. Theae are the ones that we got from owners or found in the street and are feeding and walking cleaning up after every day.

Chiro, shown along with my horribly horse fly bitten legs, has been with us for six months. Her owners are still not in a position to take her back. Though she's aggressive to other dogs, she's really sweet to humans. She's really smart and lovely, loves a belly rub or a snack. She's really fast, and relishes her walks.

Thanks this week go to Kim, who sent me a donation, and Julia, who came up to volunteer last week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Doggy Style

It's getting cold, people.
I am not one who approves of dogs in clothes, usually. I used to think it was unbearably twee and coddling and the dogs always seemed embarrassed. I once saw a poodle in Kamakura wearing mini Chuck Taylors.
Jenny Jenny
But people, it is COLD. And we had all these donated dog clothes. And the dogs are sleeping outside. Granted, in an insulated kennel, with dog houses, and blankets, but still. An extra layer can't hurt, right?
Sam and Choco, looking especially handsome
So from this week it's been dog fashion time.

Don't they look handsome? I think Chibi looks like a retiree going on a cruise. Fitting, since she's kind of geriatric at 9 years old, doesn't really want to leave her room to go on walks. But from now she's LIVING IT UP.
Chibi, on her way to the Bahamas.
King ate the first shirt I put on him. I guess he didn't like it. But this one looks stylish on him too.
King will eat your shirt.
I think Kenny looks like an English professor in his sweater.
Where did I put my pipe?
Chiro's shirt was donated by some people in Thailand. It says "Gambatte Japan,  from the people of Thailand".
Thanks this week go to people who sent clothes, including "the people of Thailand" and Leonora&Ian, and Jackie, who sent me a donation. Thank you so much!

Monday, November 21, 2011

They call him King

King, looking more like a scruffy pirate.
This is King, a short time after he came to Lohas. He had been on his own for four months, his owners evacuated, with almost no human contact. A neighbor finally called us. When I went to pick him up, he barked fiercely. He was skinny with patches of fur missing and red, irritated skin.

After coming to Inawashiro, he quickly warmed up to us. He ate ravenously, and would bark steadily if left alone. He craved human companionship, and was known for his tendency to stand up on hind legs with front legs extended forward like arms, begging for attention.

We treated him for fleas and ticks, got him vaccinated, and neutered, and soon his hair started growing back in, his coat thickening, and his ribs receding under a layer of proper nutrition.
A few months later.
Here he is in September. King is really an alpha guy. He walks proudly, head and tail in the air, dragging his handler if you let him. He's a big baby when it comes to vaccines but a tough guy when it comes to foxes and other dogs challenging his authority. When he took his surgery vacation weekend at my house, he luxuriated at being indoors and being the sole canine focus of attention. I think he would thrive in foster care.

I'd like to dedicate King's story to Rosanna, who sent me a donation. Thank you very much.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

satooya news

Hey y'all.
Stellaluna in the pantry, by my mom.
I'm still in Fukushima, surrounded by fur babies.
fur babies, by Anna Vieste

These are some puppies we recently picked up, at about four weeks old. It's really dangerous to pick them up because everyone who does wants to take one home. They are delicious.
yummy puppy diego, by anna vieste
And, AND, the chickens got adopted! All eighty of them! They went to a little natural (pesticide free, they grow a lot of their own crops) bakery down in Okayama called Hototogisu. I love that name. It means cuckoo.
The chickens are now being put to work as free range layers at a little bakery down south.
They've had the eggs tested (again) and they have been deemed fit for consumption. All that trucking in of food and water over the months seems to have been a good thing.

Speaking of adoption, my dad came out to volunteer three times, and he couldn't resist taking home a couple of the kitties. Stellaluna, pictured in the pantry above, was so named because of her huge ears in proportion to her head, making her look like a bat. She was the runt of the litter, a spunky, tiny little thing who we didn't think would make it, but who climbed up the bars of the cage and cried in such a big voice we imagined her saying STELLLLLA! like Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Along with Stella came her sister, who my mom named Chibitora.
Chibitora is super cuddly.
Long ago, we had a pair of sister cats, one a tuxedo, and one a brown tabby called Tiger. Tigger ran away within the first year or so, but Tuxy stayed with us her whole life. These two new little girls resemble Tux and Tig so closely that my mom named Chibi in Tiger's honor and muses about reincarnation (生まれ変わり, umarekawari). Chibi is a snugglebug.

There are still so many cats out in the zone, and some dogs too. Today I got a call from someone who wants us to pick up five koi, about a meter long apiece. That's fifteen feet of carp, people! Anybody got space in their pond?

The animals in this post are dedicated to Dharma and Carrie, who sent me a donation and hosted me for dinner in October, and JB, who kicked my ass into posting again. Thanks dolls.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

summer reading

Some extra reading:

Alex, our long-term volunteer and vet tech extraordinaire, kept a blog of her time here with JEARS. She kept much better track of day-to-day goings on than I have. Here's an excerpt from her website:

After the first pick up, Sega san led us to another location in Yamakiya that looked like a storage shed for agricultural tools. A dog was chained up, Kuro. He was extremely nervous and the owner or one of the people somehow related to the owner warned that he would bite. I meandered up to him bowed down with a slip lead and lots of treats and he eventually took treats from me and I got the slip lead around his neck. We then had to bring the whole chain with us because he was still acting out in fear aggression. After much maneuvering, we got him loaded into a crate and into the car. Since he has been at Club Lohas, though, he has become one of the friendliest dogs and he is especially attached to me and I to him.
Kuro, Shiro na no ni.
Alex is now traveling in Vietnam and we miss her sorely. Come back, Alex!

Inawashiro. Photo by Annabel Ratcliffe
Annabel took some fabulous pictures while she was in Inawashiro, really showcasing the gorgeous surroundings. Fukushima is stunning, and it's such a shame that some of these beautiful places have become poisonous for their inhabitants.
Penny. Photo by Annabel Ratcliffe.
Kangaroo. Photo by Annabel Ratcliffe.
Canal near Club Lohas. Photo by Annabel Ratcliffe.
The fabulous Sylvia wrote up her experience of returning two dachshunds, Romeo and Juliet, to their owners in Iwate. It turns out the dogs are heroes! I was in Fukushima when they came down from up north, then they went to Heart Tokushima for awhile, then came back to us in Fukushima again for awhile before going back home. Stories and photos by Sylvia Hatsutani.

命の恩人~The dogs that saved lives

by Sylvia New Hatsutani on Saturday, August 6, 2011 at 11:10pm
Mommy's home!
I had the wonderful opportunity to drive two wonderful Dachshunds, Romeo and Juliet, to Rikuzentakata, Iwate and return them to their rightful owners. Since the Mega earthquake and tsunami about 4 months ago, they have been in the care of JEARS until their owners could settle enough to take them back. Now that the owners are in a temporary pre-fab home, Romeo and Juliet got to go home. Upon arriving, amidst the happy reunion, the owners explained that these two had saved their lives.
今 週、岩手県陸前高田市に2匹のかわいいダックスフンドを元の飼い主に送り届けるというとても素敵な経験をさせてもらいました。ロミオとジュリエットは約 4ヶ月前の大地震と津波からJEARSのシェルターでケアされてきました。仮設住宅にやっと入り落ち着いた飼い主の元に帰り、幸せな再会の中、'この子達 は命の恩人なのよ'と話してくれました。
With JEARS founding partner and JEARS Fukushima organizer, Susan Roberts

Living near the sea in Rikuzentakata, after the earthquake hit, the owners stayed inside their home. Romeo and Juliet would not stop barking and whining, and acted very nervous. Thinking that the dogs sensed danger, the owners decided to load them up into the car and drove to the nearby evacuation site, which saved their lives from the tsunami. Since dogs were not allowed inside, the owners left them in the car which was parked some distance from the evacuation building. Unfortunately, the car was swept away by the tsunami with Romeo and Juliet inside. The owners searched for the car and found them 3 days later, not a single drop of water had entered the car and both dogs were safe. They found a package of bread that was left in the car and survived off of the bread.
Had the dogs not warned them, they said they would have stayed in the house and would have been swept away. Rikuzentakata was hit with tsunamis reaching 5 stories.
This is truly a wonderful, touching story that filled my heart. I am glad that I got to meet this family.
海 に近い陸前高田にいる飼い主は地震の後家にのこっていました。所がロミオとジュリエットは落ち着かず、吠え続けていたため、危険を察知してる物と思って犬 たちを連れて車で近くの避難場所に移動したそうです。犬は建物に入れないので、少し離れた駐車場に2匹を車においていたそうです。所が、ロミオとジュリ エットを乗せたまま車は津波に流されてしまいました。飼い主たちが車を探し出したのは3日後。水が一滴も入らず2匹は車の中においたままのパンを食べて無 事でした。もし2匹が騒がなければ家に残り、津波に流されるところでした。陸前高田は5階ほどの高さの津波に教わたそうです。
They were so happy to see their family.

Rolling around in happiness.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Chicken Wednesdays

It's Wednesday again. Time to feed the chickens.
We've been feeding these 80 chickens in Namie-machi, in Fukushima, for a few months now. The owner has long evacuated, and when we first found them they were dehydrated and hungry, a few of them dead. Since then, we've been going back twice a week, on Wednesdays and weekends, to replenish their food and water supply. They've grown healthy and robust and have started laying a ton of eggs. They have a relatively large coop - I'd say at least 15X30 feet - with lots of space to peck and roost.
I've learned a couple of things about chickens that I didn't know before. First, how to hold one, taught to me by Sister Michael Marie, one of our volunteers. "Control the feet, control the bird," she says. You thread your middle three fingers between the feet, holding on tightly, and the bird will soon be calm and let you stroke its feathers.
Another: chickens are really friendly. After the first time we went, they would run to the door as we pulled up, strutting around our ankles and crowding the entrance, in anticipation of food and water. I haven't been pecked, and they let me pet them, coming close if I crouch down.
I was afraid that a roosting hen would peck me if I messed with her while she was laying, but they don't seem to mind at all if I gently pull the eggs out from under them. Did you know that chickens eat their own eggs? We pull the eggs out and put them among the feed and they peck them open and eat them up, getting protein and calcium. They even eat the shells.
Right now, one of our volunteers has sent an egg to a lab to be tested for radiation. So far, the iodine levels have been normal. We're waiting on the results for cesium. These chickens have been living almost unattended for four months in the 30km. zone of Fukushima. I'd like to dedicate these chickens to Andy, who sent me a donation, and Anastasia, who donated a microwave and mini fridge to us. Thanks guys!
The owner, whom we finally contacted, has said that he's willing to let the chickens go to adoption. Anyone want some chickens?

Monday, July 11, 2011

dogs that bound

This is Reo, who was surrendered to us on the side of the road as we were chasing a stray dog. We were between scheduled pickups when we saw a dog in the road in Namie-machi, Fukushima. (Namie is part in part out of the exclusion/20 km. zone, but mostly in the evacuation zone, where it's not totally illegal to be but where they strongly advise everyone to GTFO.) We stopped the car to try and look at the dog in the road, but he ducked and dashed and messed around a bit before bolting into the woods. Meantime, we had stopped a couple of cars because we were all over the road, and one of us had gone over to the nearest house to inquire about the dog. The owner of the house didn't know the Shiba stray, but when she heard about what we were doing, she asked us to take her dog, Reo.
The one that got away. Photo by David Irek.
While we were filling out the papers, one of the people in one of the cars we had stopped got out, and when she found out what was happening, she also brought a dog out of the car that she wanted us to take care of. Suddenly, we had two extra dogs we weren't planning on, Reo and Samu.
Doing Reo's paperwork in the road. Photo by David Irek.
Reo is only a year old, and spends 50% of her time airborne. She doesn't walk, she leaps. She doesn't put her paws on your legs, she jumps up to your head. She cannot be constrained by gravity.
Getting Samu into the car. Photo by David Irek.
Later it turned out that Samu was a mom, so the team went back out to look for her puppies. Miraculously, they were found. More on that story here. The puppies, who we called Charlotte and Wilbur (name that book) and Clarence and Sophie, grew rapidly and it soon became clear they were going to be bigger than their mom. They have all recently been placed in their forever homes. (Thanks Nina, Caroline, and Miki!)
Here's a shot of Clarence, looking plump. Photo courtesy Sarah C.
I'd like to dedicate Reo, Samu, and the puppies to Janis, who sent me a donation, and my brother, who is looking after my Timothy while I'm up north.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


I call these my forest kittens.

While picking up a dog by owner request that had been left behind in Kawamata, Fukushima, the cops approached Kimberly Mitchell, Ariel Acosta, and me. I pulled out my ID because they ask for our IDs every fifteen minutes when we're in the evacuation zone. (Last week I was stopped and ID checked five times in a couple of hours.) The police waved my ID off and instead asked for our help - they wanted us to look at some cats they were worried about, 300 meters up the road. I said we couldn't take any more, but we would do a food drop and check on them. When we arrived, though, we found two tiny kittens running up to us as we approached, and another one lying dead in a box at the edge of the forest. Flies were buzzing around. We put out food and looked at the one in the box, who, the police said, had been alive two hours before. It moved - barely. Not dead after all. We made a spot decision to take them all, scooping them up and running to the vet, an hour away.

The sick one didn't make it, and passed away in Kim's hands on the way there, Kim pouring love into her all the way.

Once at the vet, he examined them and found maggot eggs and sores around the anuses, and worked to clean them off. He put them in an incubator. They survived the night and became even more chipper the next day as we visited. After a few more days at the clinic, they were declared healthy enough to go to their new foster home with Sylvia, with a stop at my house on the way. Little survivors!

 I'd like to dedicate these kittens to the lovely Saboten Girl, who gave me a donation, and my aunt Asako, who sent us cages and many cartons of pet food. Thank you darlings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

'boarders and bunnies

dear friends,

I know I'm way behind on updates; the days have flown past, with little time to sleep or eat, let alone write. The only reason I have a minute now is because the car has broken down and I am on the train back to Fukushima.

Last time I left you with the promise of Olympic snowboarders and other shenanigans.
Kazu Dispatch 18 09
JEARS crew and volunteers.
Over Golden Week, we had a rash of volunteers who came up to work with us for the week. One of these was the snowboarder Kazu Kokubo, a sweet young guy with an Olympics under his belt and a couple of other trophies, like the recent Burton US Open. Here we are in Minami Soma, just outside the 20 km. exclusion zone blockade. Left to right, it's Isabella Gallaon-Aoki, JEARS founder and founder of Animal Friends Niigata, David Wybenga, JEARS founder and Japan Cat Net founder, Susan Mercer, JEARS founder and Heart Tokushima founder, me, Tales Mello, an engineering student from Osaka, Nori Watanabe, Kazu's cameraman, Carl Harris, Kazu's friend and agent for this trip, and Kazu Kokubo.

Kazu has written a great blog for this trip at Snowboarder magazine (that's my geiger counter he's got down his pants).
animal friends

After visiting Animal Friends on Wednesday, we set out early on Thursday morning for Soma City, just north of the exclusion zone.
The town of Soma is mostly shut.

In front of Soma City Hall.
There we visited some evacuation centers and distributed pet food, and had a run-in with an angry drunk evacuee who berated us for not bringing enough dog food for everyone. When we proffered him some kibble, he admitted that he did not have a dog.
Outside an evacuation center in Soma.

Goats in Soma.
We also visited a small festival where there were some lonely farm animals hanging around, looking forlorn but with their people nearby. On the way back from the festival, we passed a cage holding some rabbits with a sign saying "free". When Isabella stopped to talk to the owners, she found they could not take care of all of them, so in short order we had a rabbit in tow.

From Soma, we made our way to the Minami Soma area. Minami Soma sits at the north edge of the 20 km. exclusion zone, with part of the town inside and part of the town outside the zone. En route, we traveled along the coast, through the debris field.
Kazu Dispatch 18 18
Photo from Kazu's blog.
I was driving a van with some of the founders and some volunteers inside, and someone asked - do you ever find animals here? We all replied - not anymore. It's been a month and a half since the quake, there aren't any more animals to be pulled from the rubble.
Just as we finished saying it, someone yelled, and we all spotted the dog emerging from the vast and barren wasteland, tail wagging. Our small caravan quickly pulled over and we rushed to don gloves, masks, grab slip leads, and find dog treats.

This guy was so friendly and eager to see people that it was a snap to get him in the van and secured with a bowl of food to snack on. I nicknamed him Barney since he came from the rubble.

I'd like to dedicate the rescue of Bun and Barney to Emma aka Emu, who was so kind to send me a donation, and JB, who worked hard to spread the word by blogging our activities and sent our video out to several places, including getting the video on Cute Overload - a major accomplishment! Thanks ladies for your help and support, love ya.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Help cats and teach English!

Substitute for a good cause!
Japan Cat Network is looking for someone to come to Hikone (near Kyoto), to cover some evening English classes so that we can continue to work in Tohoku. Right now there are classes that need to be covered for tomorrow night (Thursday). We are not looking for a volunteer - we can pay 4,000 yen per 60 minutes plus some transportation. If you might be able or interested please write back right away, We need someone for tomorrow, and need to set it up now, or leave Tohoku in the morning. There are also classes on Monday and Friday nights - with the possibility to crash here overnight if need be.
 If you are able to volunteer at the shelter as well, we would love you forever. 
Drop me a comment or shoot me an email if you can help!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

kits and pups

I have taken on a role as an (unpaid, of course!! ha) coordinator, so I'm trying to manage volunteers as well as drive, translate, and of course pick up and transport animals. Every day is a blur!

This is Mr. Saito and Ginny with one of the six kittens and five adult cats that we picked up in Aizu. He was really sad to see them go and shed a few tears as we left.
I was able to visit with Cocoa, the dog from Iwate, at the shelter the other day. I took her out for a walk and though she barks at most everyone else, she seemed happy to see me and gave me a kiss and didn't yell at me. I'd like to dedicate Cocoa's rescue to Lily, who not only gave me a donation and bought me coffee, but offered to spread the word about fostering in Niigata and has been in touch about other ways to volunteer.

Here are a few more shots of dogs we got on the last day we were in the 20 km. zone. They are all receiving food, shelter, and medical care now, and though some were quite sick going in, they all have a better chance now at survival and happy homes in the future.
I'd like to dedicate these dogs to my dad, who sent us a couple of good geiger counters, enabling us to monitor the situation, be safer, and scan the animals and ourselves after coming out of the exclusion zone.
During Golden Week, many volunteers and animals flowed through our network, stopping for a spell at the Sendai or Fukushima bases, transporting animals to Animal Friends Niigata, and from there on to Japan Cat Net and Heart Tokushima.
This dog, Jam, had severe separation anxiety. He was ok if he was basically in your lap, but if you walked away, he cried piteously until someone came back. Judy, a bitchin' translator with a fabulous potty mouth, slept in the genkan with him, then took him back to some of his people (friends of the owners, who had evacuated to a no-pets-allowed spot in Tokyo) in Hirono. One happy ending.

Next up: Olympic snowboarder rubs elbows with goats, drunks, dogs, and debris.