The week of Monday the 23rd was a pretty chill week. I'm going to combine everything into one mega-awesome post!!!
The Monday after going to Minami Soma for the cow and to Kawamata for the dogs and cats was a much calmer day. We had decided that we needed a day to just lay low for a while and rest considering how difficult the previous day was. In the afternoon, Brian and I departed to go to Kawamata to check on the trap we had left to catch a cat a Yukimama's house. By the time we pulled into town, it was dark. I have to tell you, driving through an evacuation zone at night is an incredibly eery experience. Especially Kawamata since it's so rural. We also see cats everywhere along the road. We usually see at least 3 every time we go. Unfortunately they are generally ferals and will not let us get near them, but at least they are used to living on their own.
At Yukimama's house we were happy to see that we had caught the cat and he was indeed quite sick. A bad upper respiratory infection combined with ear mites and sunburn (he was a white cat tinged beige with dirt). We got him settled into the van and headed to Sendai (only getting lost for a little bit) for the night because Tuesday was transport day!
Brian and I rented a Hiace at the Hertz in Sendai. This style of van has been really great for transporting animals because it can hold so many crates and carriers. We loaded up the cats at the Sendai house (the Hirona cats, Kenshiro, Amelia the tick cat, A-chan and Hanna, and the mama cat and two kittens) plus a bunch of donations from various people that had come into Sendai. Brian left first and I stayed behind to await two packages that we knew were coming to the house. One was the phone charger which had been accidentally taken by our Incident Commander when she left the day before and the other was my big box o' meds from Bayou Rescue! I must say, I've never seen a better packed care package. I left Sendai in the late afternoon and got back to Inawashiro where we had a pretty early night.
We had appointments on Wednesday the 25th. The chickens which Fran had shown us on Saturday needed to be fed and a dog needed to be picked up from an evacuation center. The dog's name was Gonta and he had been living in his guardians' car outside of the center. He was apparently very stressed there to the point that he had bitten the male guardian. They were worried for his psychological health and felt that he would be better elsewhere until he calmed down or they found temporary housing.
Brian and I drove to Namie to feed the chickens and on the way picked up a couple of big bags of feed. When we got there we found that the chickens were starving and very thirsty. We poured both bags into the feeding bins and filled up the water buckets scattered throughout the coop from a nearby stream. I'm sure the water is super radiated, but so are the chickens and there's not much else to do except for lug water in which is heavy and takes up space in the van which could be used for picking up animals.
We left Namie for Nihonmatsu and the evacuation center where we would pick up Gonta. The evacuation center was located up Mt. Adatara, a bustling moutain with tiny roads lined with shops. Children were just getting out of school as we were driving up and we got to see all of the adorable Japanese kids with their matching back packs. We watched as one little boy took the pack of a little girl and carried it up the hill for her. So adorable!
When we got to the evacuation center, it was pretty grim. I'm astounded by the disparities between the various evacuation centers. Some that I've been to are these amazing resorts where people get their own rooms. Meanwhile, others live in what amounts to giant warehouses. The evacuation center on Mt. Adatara was of the latter variety. We didn't go inside, but I could see that everyone was sleeping on the floor on futon pads. The people with pets sat outside with them during the day and just generally hung out with little to do. Gonta's family was seated on the stairs outside of the center waiting for us to arrive.
As you can see from the picture, Gonta is a very well cared for dog. His guardians gave us a huge bucket of his food, grooming supplies, treats, and vitamin water. Yes, vitamin water. They included a list of what Gonta likes and dislikes. Vitamin water was a definite like. However, Gonta does not like fireworks.
While Gonta's family was filling out the paperwork I was informed that another family had a dog with ear issues that they wanted me to look at. He was a black and white cocker spaniel, older, and very friendly. Until I started to mess with his ears. I plied him with treats long enough to get a good look inside both ears. They were filled with the worst ear infection I had ever seen. The poor dog's ears were very inflamed and green goop was clearly visible. Definitely bacterial and probably pseudomonas. I told them he needed to get to a vet ASAP because I didn't have the capability to diagnose exactly what his ears were harboring without a microscope and didn't have access to proper ear medications. They seemed disappointed that I couldn't do more, and I was, as well, but they assured me that they were moving into temporary housing before the week's end and once they were there they would take him to a veterinarian.
Gonta's departure from his family was tearful. We loaded him into the back of the van and drove back down the mountain. He cried the entire time and didn't stop until we got to Inawashiro.
(An update on Gonta, he stayed in Inawashiro for several days before being transported to a foster where he settled in nicely. On Sunday June 12 he was returned to his family who had been moved into temporary housing. The family was overjoyed to see him and he was also ecstatic)
Brian left to go to Sendai for a few days on Thursday the 26th so Selena and I were left to take care of the dogs on our own. It was a leisurely day filled with animal care, cleaning, and laundry. I wish I could say something interesting about Japanese laundry facilities, but they are remarkably dull. The one in Inawashiro has a television, a futon dryer, and a massage chair, but otherwise is pretty standard. We left our laundry running and went out to eat. I had been wanting soba noodles since my arrival so we decided to dine at a restaurant right next to the train station that Selena had visited before.
The restaurant should have been packed. It was lunch hour directly across from the train station, but Selena and I were the only patrons. As with most natural disasters, there is hidden economic costs that people tend to overlook. Inawashiro is a resort town and relies heavily on tourism, but no one really wants to travel in Fukushima prefecture now with the threat of radiation. Yoshikawa-san has told us about the numerous shops and museums in Inawashiro that she knows have closed due to the lack of business. I hope that the same doesn't happen to this restaurant because my meal was delicious and the service impeccable.
Soba noodles with "mountain vegetables"
We finished our meal and went back to the laundromat. The news was on and a camera crew was following people who had evacuated back to their homes. Evacuees are being taken into the radiation exclusion area for two hours to allow them to collect possessions. While inside the exclusion zone the news crew filmed a small black and white dog in the road barking at them. They made some passing comment and kept going. Selena said that they simply pointed out that a stray dog was running in the street. It was very disheartening to see them pay so little attention to the dog who was clearly in distress.
We took the laundry back to Club LOHAS and began feeding the dogs midday treats. When we got to Mimii-chan we noticed that she was in a weird position and wasn't coming out for treats which is so unlike her.
Mimii's odd position.
I climbed down to make sure that she wasn't injured or stuck and discovered...A PUPPY.
Before I get to talking about whelping puppies I would like to point out that I have never ever seen any animal being born. I sort of knew what you had to do from other people's descriptions and from the internet. Also, Mimii did not look pregnant in any way, shape, or form. She wasn't lactating, didn't exhibit nesting behavior (until we got back from the laundromat), didn't have a distended belly, etc. I never would have guessed that she was pregnant. After this, I always suspect that any female dog we bring in is pregnant.
So Mimii had this tiny puppy latched onto her.
He had only just been born because he still had the umbilical cord attached and looked damp. I got some towels, alcohol wipes, scissors, and gloves and set to work cutting the cord. Mimii was already contracting again so Selena got her vet friend on the phone to ask what all we should do. The vet friend basically reiterated what we were already doing and gave us some additional information about how long to wait before moving her.
Soon after I cut the cord of the first puppy (a boy), Mimii gave birth to a second puppy, this time a girl!
She was taking a long time to get the amniotic sac off of the second puppy so I decided to go ahead and help her. I used a towel to remove it and cleared the airways and the puppy immediately started crying so I cut the umbilical cord and gave her back to her mother.
Then came the placenta. I will spare you all the details, but suffice it to say I've never been more grossed out and dogs eat disgusting things.
The third puppy (a boy with a brown face) was born after about a 30 minute break. Again, Mimii was taking a long time with the sac. She kept trying to get it off but after a while I helped out again.
After the third birth Mimii was frantic to get away to go to the bathroom. We took the opportunity to move the puppies inside since it was quite chilly out. We thought Mimii was done giving birth so we went to take care of the other dogs. When we came back we heard squealing, but the three puppies looked like they were all nursing. It took me a while to process the situation but then I realized there was a fourth puppy. He was buried under the blankets lining Mimii's cage and it took me a while to get him out.
This fourth puppy was another little boy, mostly brown with some white. He's the smallest, but also the most active of the puppies and since he's been an "explorer" since birth we've nicknamed him Magellan.
Friday May 27th was a boring day compared to the previous one. I spent the majority of the day sorting through the donations that we had brought from Sendai. It seriously took me 4 hours.
Saturday the 28th saw the return of the wonderful Miwa, our fantastic driver/translator/navigator/animal caretaker. She and I were scheduled to pick up a dog near Kawamata and decided to scout in the area a bit for strays and feed the chickens at Samu's house while we were at it.
Our pick up was a dog named Dyu. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of him at this time, but should have one soon. He's an adorable squatty brown dog with a face like a fox. He was very eager to meet us and his guardians graciously loaded him into the car. It was a very smooth pick up with Miwa translating and getting permission for the neuter surgery and transport.
The chickens at Samu's house were all alive when we got there which made me very glad. I had been worried for their safety after the coop had been left open the previous time. They were quite hungry and thirsty and seeing them in need further resolved my mind that the best thing would be if they could be transported out.
On the way back to Inawashiro, Miwa and I drove past a brown tabby cat. We drive past so many cats, but this one was clearly a pet cat. We turned around to drive up beside him and apparently this alerted the cops in the station that we passed to U-turn. They stopped behind our car and began asking us many questions in Japanese while I'm picking up and holding this cat who is trying to get out of my arms. It was a tense few moments as Miwa explained that we were animal rescuers and worried about this cat. She asked if they knew the cat and the owners but they indicated that they were officers brought in from outside the prefecture to stand guard. She assured them that we would go and ask at the Hello Shop (our base of operation in Kawamata where we "know" the owner simply because that is always where we stop to buy food and drink and which was luckily just a few blocks away) about the cat. At the Hello Shop the owner told us she had just seen the cat for the first time that morning. She believed that he was attracted because her cat was in heat. We told her that we weren't sure if we should take him or not because clearly he was someone's pet. He had many lacerations and punctures on him presumably from fighting and that was the only reason why we were considering taking him to prevent abscess. She informed us that she thought he was an abandoned cat and that if we took him no one would look for him.
That sealed the deal for us. We were taking the cat. We didn't bring any carriers so he had to sit on my lap wrapped up in a towel.
He truly didn't seem to mind the car ride except for when we purchased and tried to put him in a carrier. He definitely did not appreciate that and much preferred the view from my lap or the driver's seat.
We got him back to Inawashiro and settled in. We now had just one more animal to take care of.
On Sunday the 29th, I was left behind in Inawashiro to do animal care while Miwa and Miho went to do a pick up. It was another fairly laid back day, though kind of sad because Brian left. Miho and Miwa's pick up was for 3 dogs which they were told were fairly small. They also had a second pick up at an evacuation center. A small shih tzu mix named Momo needed somewhere to stay for a month while her guardian underwent cancer treatment at a nearby hospital. Momo also suffered from cancer, a mammary tumor, but is stable.
When they got back I was surprised to see that they only had two dogs, one large white and brown three-legged dog and Momo.
This is Bill, one of the three dogs that was supposed to be picked up. She is missing a paw apparently from a run in with a wild boar when she was younger. Also, her name is Bill and she's a girl.Weird.
Apparently the dogs were much bigger than they had thought and Miwa's car couldn't hold them all. We would have to go back later in the week to pick up the other two, but only one had been chained up. It was going to be another difficult rescue.