Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Glad to Have a Glass

Somebody thanked us yesterday. She said "Thank you for rescuing my babies!" She posted a video, and there they are in a happy home with someone who loves them, rather than all alone, trying desperately to survive. I remember them there on that long dark night in the exclusion zone, and I remember the one that we were not able to catch. We never saw that one again. I worried about how fearful they were, but then a very special person came along, who wanted to give them a chance. 

Sometimes just trying to get through each difficult day, it's easy to forget about all of the good. But can you imagine...more than 400 furry (or feathered!) little lives have passed through our hands over the last year. Every one of you out there, who has leant JCN a hand or given a donation has helped to save these lives and to get them into good homes like Kumi and Naoki's. We have so much to be grateful for! 

Speaking of which, we had more than a dozen volunteers stop in over the last seemed like every time I looked out at the dogs, they had somebody new brushing them. Lucky dogs!

2 of the puppies went out for a homestay, with a volunteer who comes out regularly to help. She has a heart of gold and the puppies always seem to know it!

Our volunteer vet techs were able to do the monthly treatment for filaria and other parasites on the dogs. The kitties also got their monthly parasite treatment. What we would love is some Revolution, which would make the treatment much easier, especially for the less friendly ones. I think both of our vet techs went home with a few new scratches! Of course some of the kitties are more relaxed than others. Why someone has not snapped up our soft cuddly Stanley, I do not know. What cat lover wouldn't want to sleep with this? Just one of the joys I have, in living at a shelter!

Takumi and I have been hanging in there together on our own here, for a couple of days now. He is so good with all of the animals, and he has the tough job of sleeping in the clinic/quarantine room, with 10 noisy cats and 4 noisy puppies. He is the best sport ever :-) Check out his blog (in Japanese)! 


I have been worried about a few things this week, one of which is a kitty that managed to escape the shelter. He has not come back. We have taken steps to help solve the problem that allowed him to get out, but that won't do anything for him. I am so hoping that Claude finds his way back to us.

We went out to the evacuated area to fill the bins this past Saturday. Most still had a bit of food in them, but a disappointing number were completely empty. Again. The system is not perfect...we know that some wild animals gain access to the food. However we also know that we are feeding a large number of cats, many of which we have spayed/neutered and released, and many others which we are hoping to eventually bring in. An imperfect system is better than no system at all, because for the left behind it simply means survival. The bins are the best idea that we could come up with to address a very difficult situation. We saw so many cats waiting by the side of the road, for someone to stop and feed was heartbreaking to think about how long they may have had to wait and hope there, for someone to come by. With the bins, they at least don't have to wait in the cold or along a dangerously fast traveled road.

Many still come out to see us. They seem to miss human interaction! I wish...that we had more cat food...that we had more shelter space...that we had more volunteers...that we had more money for gas...that we had more cooperation from the government...but we have what we have, and we do what we can with what we have. I am glad that we are still managing to get out there and feed, and that we are still able to rescue, despite the fact that we are often running on empty. Somehow we make it through another day. Whether it is half full or half empty, I'm just glad to have a glass.

Finally, I have been meaning to get a snap of this...

The kitties may not know what to think, but I do. Yay!! No more hands and knees floor cleaning :-) Thanks, to the kind soul who sent this along, and seriously, EVERYONE should have one of these. 
(More pictures in my June album on Facebook)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Love is in the air

I returned to Inawashiro, and met some new faces that arrived while I was away. The kitties from Kesennuma can't stop saying hello! They love any and everyone :-) Really hoping that they can find a couple of fosters willing to take them on short term, until their guardian can arrange pet-friendly housing. They all really want to be in somebody's lap nonstop! Happy to see that all are healthy.

In order to create more space in the the new intake area, we moved a few recent rescues that had been in quarantine. Sparky is a kitty that we had planned to neuter and release, as he didn't seem friendly...however after a week or so in shelter, he really warmed up! Being around the other kitties still makes him a little nervous, but he loves being petted, and purrs up a storm.

I was looking forward to meeting the new puppies and they are as adorable as expected! All are very friendly, and love people. A volunteer named the brown female puppy, and the rest are named after soccer players, since these puppies already love to follow a little soccer ball around the dog run. We have the black and white female, Sawa chan; the cream colored male, Beckham; the black and white male, Kazu; and the brown and white female, Tanner.

The puppies spend their days in the sunny cafe dog run, and go upstairs to their kennel at night--Takumi carries them up in a basket!

Kuma is a new adult dog rescued from the restricted area. He was very very fearful when he first arrived, and managed to escape shortly after. Takumi contacted the authorities immediately. Kuma was eventually found and brought back. He has warmed up more and more everyday since then! He absolutely loves attention, loves to be brushed and petted, and cries when anyone walks away from him. He's missing part of an ear, and some fur...also started out very underweight. But little by little he is beginning to look like the happy dog he once must have been.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take a short trip to Tokyo, to attend a charity concert to raise funds for our work in Fukushima. I had an amazing time. It's always great to be surrounded by the people who are working hard to support us and to keep everything going, and 95 of our friends came out to the really pretty venue (What the Dickens in Ebisu). The bands that participated were very entertaining, and I talked with some of the performers about their own pets. It reminds me how lucky we are as a group to have so many dedicated and talented members. Besides that, they're really fun people to be around! I'm so proud to be a part of Japan Cat Network.

Finally, I'd like to highlight one of the wonderful dogs that we are currently watching for an evacuee. This dog is Michi-Taro.

 The name Michi was given to him by one of the shelters that he stayed at previously, and the name Taro came from his guardian. Michi-Taro came to us so that he could be closer to where his guardian is staying in temporary housing. The kind soft-spoken man has come out many times to walk Michi-Taro, to brush him and to give him the warm attention that he so loves. Of course we care about this dog a great deal, too, and we like to see him being fussed over! His guardian came by this week and reaffirmed that he is so happy that Mich-Taro can stay with us here. He said that he can see how well his dog is being cared for. Some people have questioned our dedication to animals, where there is clearly so much human need. I guess that's because they can't see those human faces light up, when they see their pets cared for and happy. They don't see the tears that others still cry every night for pets that were not so lucky. And they don't hear the shaky voices as they say thank you repeatedly, for the lives that we continue to save, and for the ability to sleep at night with that knowledge. I wish they could see that. The opportunity to help people put their lives back together by saving the lives of those they love is breathtaking, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. 
(More photos in my June album on Facebook)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Furry stories

Meet Aimee--she's the cat! Once upon a time, I sat up nights with another volunteer, working to help keep some tiny little kittens alive, that JCN had rescued from animal control. Aimee was one of them. We prayed, and we hoped, and we loved, and somehow, against all odds, she survived. She grew up and she found her way into the hearts and home of a wonderful family. That might have been the end of the story, and honestly, it would have been enough for me. But it doesn't end there...Aimee's family contacted us wanting to help with our rescue efforts in Fukushima. They have gone on to foster puppies, adult dogs, another cat, and to do many other things to help get lots of rescues into loving homes. I got a chance to see some of these happy pets and their families, over the past couple of days in Tokyo!

This is Pickle, one of five Fukushima puppies that might have been drowned, if not for us. That's what happened to those that came before her, but lucky for little Pickle, we were able to intervene. Now she lives with a loving family, and gets to visit with her brother Stewie at the dog park.

Stewie lives with Aimee, and is becoming a big cuddly old softie! You can see Stewie, as a dirty little puppy in Namie with Takumi (puppy on right).


Stewie loves other dogs, even those that aren't his siblings. Kumi, is a well loved playmate, and it was a thrill to see this happy dog come for a visit, too. She wasn't always so relaxed or healthy...Kumi was born outside to a left behind dog, and she was one of a lucky three that survived. We found her, and got her to the vet just in time. She was nervous and still on her guard for the first months, but her new adoptive mom has won her over and has completely changed the way that Kumi views the world. I was surprised when Kumi happily greeted me and ran around playfully, without one hint of fear. Kumi and her bother Taku's rescue video can be seen here.

Jimi was there, too! Jimi was a kitty that showed up at one of our feeding stations and insisted on coming back with us to shelter. He followed me right to the van! He seemed to have a lot of stories to tell us, and to be very grateful for some people to finally share them with.

And then there's Paul, another Fukushima rescue. This playful happy boy no longer has a care in the world, and he is so very loved. Many hands and hearts went into his rescue and recovery, in order to bring him to this life that he enjoys...sunny mornings on his enclosed balcony and nights wrapped around his papa's feet! Mom Sylvia juggles adoption help with an amazing amount of other support work for JCN--she even helped get a wandering dog to safety in the Tokyo area this week, while I was along for the ride. Ran out with her slip lead in hand, and waited until we were sure that guardians would easily be found, so that the dog could be returned home. 

Just a few more furry reminders as to why we are here, why we are working so hard, and why we need more help. Every cat and dog out there trying to survive on their own, and waiting for rescue, has a story. It could end there, on the side of some road, with no one ever even to tell it. Or it could begin all over again in a happy loving home, with people who all depends on us.
(more photos in my facebook albums)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trading lakes and faces

This is a kitty from Kesennuma, one of the hardest hit seaside towns in Northern Japan. Her guardian is being evicted this week because she has been hiding her cats in no-pets housing, and she had no one to turn to but animal control. Luckily, they called us to see if we could help. We're expecting all six kitties at the JCN Inawashiro shelter on Thursday. We'll be fostering 5 and finding a new home for one. Please contact us, if you are able to help us create more space in the shelter by fostering any of this group or by adopting/fostering one of our shelter kitties waiting for homes.

I've been in Shiga all week, meeting with the accountant for our NPO year end report, and working on other organizational details. A whole new set of faces greet me here everyday, some of them my old pals. I love seeing Teddy and Albert...2 feral buddies that have been living outside the shelter for around 10 years. These two boys are inseparable, and even though we cannot get nearly close enough to touch them, they are still our boys. Sometimes they visit us out on the ledge of the second story window, which is a favorite sunny nap spot. From there they hop up onto the neighboring temple roof.

 Lots of other sweeties to see at the Hikone shelter...I was surprised to see how friendly Leeland and Emily have become. The last time I visited, these two little Fukushima rescues acted like they had never seen me before. Now, I couldn't go anywhere near the play area without one or the other asking for attention. Leeland remains as big a fan of David as ever.

Fosters Aimu and Konpei have loved life in the enclosures. They can often be seen showing off, in a good place to get attention from passersby. Zelda has grown into a sleek upper story lounge cat.

I always think how nice the outdoor enclosures are for the kitties, especially in the warmer weather.  Everyone enjoys being out and about, and they get so much more exercise than our babies in Fukushima do. Now that we have a new little outdoor enclosure there, too, hopefully that will change!

The biggest thrill has been seeing how happy Temperence is. This is a kitty that once broke my heart, at first sight. Trying so desperately to survive all on her own in one of the restricted evacuated areas, she showed up one day at one of our feeding stations. Look at her then and now! 

She is doing so well, and seems to be a happy healthy cat--playing with toys and basking in the sun. Whenever I see her, I am so grateful that we were there to find her, in time. I'm reminded again why we are there, and how many others depend on us for their survival.

No matter where I am, I seem to end up at the vet! This time I went with Moonshadow and Celeste. Moonshadow was there to check how her mouth was doing after her surgery and biopsy. Happy news--not cancer. Celeste continues to recover from her upper respiratory infection. On another day, our vet, all around nice guy that he is, helped me fill out some forms in Japanese. 

Back to Fukushima soon...have been checking into Inawashiro happenings, via Takumi's blog. New puppies and more! It is always hard for me to leave either of these amazing places. What a strange and lucky life I have, going back and forth between 2 animal shelters. At the end of the day, I may be tired, and some things may have gone wrong, but I never doubt that I am making a difference. I never doubt that the animals in Fukushima still desperately need us there, as well as their guardians. And somehow I board another bus, train or car to head back out. (More photos in my May album on Facebook)