On Friday June 17th, Susan and Selena left for their respective jobs taking with them 5 kittens (the orange litter from Hokenjo) and 3 adult cats. Two of the kittens were being adopted! The other 3 went to a foster home. Selena took Archie, Scarlet, Benjamin, and Petie to Tokyo to a Trap-Neuter-Return for their spays and neuters. The clinic also gave the vaccines for free when they found out what we were doing.
We had been worried that I would be all by myself with Susan and Selena gone, but Miwa showed up to Club LOHAS having taken the day off from work just to help me. I'm sure she will never read this, but I hope that she knows how incredibly grateful I am for all of the volunteering she has done with JEARS and with her own animal group in Koriyama.
So Miwa showed up and helped me to organize the donation shed. We also went shopping and bought cleaning supplies so that we could deep clean the dog houses. It ended up being a very productive day.
Miwa returned on Saturday June 18th for more animal care and organizing. That night, our Yokota base friends arrived in Inawashiro bringing more donated animal food, homemade human food (Thanks, Sandy!!), and great news of more potential foster and adoptive homes!
The next day, Sunday June 19th, we had a day packed full of pickups, drop offs, and scouting. First on the agenda was dropping off Chiro, Jr. (the male Chiro, we had mistakenly been calling him Sr. but Sr. is actually his mother even though she looks super young, hence the confusion). Chiro's original guardian, from whom we had taken him as she was evacuating Kawamata, had found a family friend willing to care for him in Fukushima City, about an hour from where she was staying. In the new foster home, she would be able to visit him more regularly.
This was sad, however, for Chiro, Jr.'s temporary foster moms, Tamy-san and her mother, who had been keeping him in Tokyo. They had already fallen in love with him in the short time and it was clear that he had formed a bond with them, as well. At one point Tamy hoisted Chiro into her arms and cuddled him and it was such a sweet moment. It was going to be a difficult departure.
So we all started caravanning to Fukushima City with Miwa and Yomiko-san leading the way, Tamy and her mother in the second car with Chiro, and Jim, Eija, and I in the big van pulling up the rear. I'm sure it was quite a scene to behold.
When we arrived at Fukushima City at the new foster's home we were told to wait a few minutes because Chiro, Jr's guardian was coming by to see him and say thank you. I was so excited to see her and to see her reunite with Chiro because I remember how distraught she was on the day that we picked him up. While we were waiting the new foster mom brought out tea and we all sat around and talked about animals (great small-talk topic among animal people!)
When Chiro's guardian arrived her face lit up to see Chiro and he ran towards her, tail wagging. It was such a beautiful moment especially when I looked around and there were 11 people in total standing in a semi-circle around this dog. It's amazing how a dog can bring so many people across so many cultures together.
The happiest dog in Fukushima City. Photo courtesy of Eija Niskanen
Once it was clear that Chiro had properly settled into his new home, Miwa (again) led the caravan, this time to pick up some cats also in Fukushima City. This was another Sega san arranged pick-up (what can I say, the woman is a saint). The woman from whom we were picking up cats had begun having anxiety issues after the 3/11 earthquake. This made her less able to take care of her cats. Her inability to properly care for her cats was compounding her anxiety issues. It was clearly a terrible situation for all involved. So Sega-san arranged for us to take the cats and temporarily house them until the woman felt capable of guardianship again.
When we got to the house the woman immediately started crying. I just wanted to give her a huge hug, but that would have been culturally insensitive (how DO you comfort a sad Japanese person?). She led us to a guest house where the cats were living. They had a nice big cage in the center for climbing and sleeping in, but the room smelled of ammonia and was quite cluttered. The woman began explaining to me that one of the cats had developed a tumor and she was very worried about it. I picked up that cat first, a small tortoiseshell/tabby named Koo. The woman pointed to the "tumor" and I immediately recognized it as a bite wound abscess. I told her (through Miwa) that it wasn't actually a tumor but an infection and the woman was visibly happier as she smiled through her tears.
The next cat to be picked up was a big orange tabby boy named Lee. When we picked him up to put him into a carrier her immediately started purring.
Then, we picked up the last adult cat, Choco, a gorgeous silver tabby boy. He's also quite the lover.
Lastly, we picked up a litter of 3 kittens, two brown tabbies (females) and an orange tabby (male). They are about 3-4 months old and the offspring of Koo and Lee. Don't worry, they've already been spayed and neutered since they've been with us!
After loading up all of the cats into Miwa's car, the guardian woman said tearful goodbyes and gave us coffee. Miwa's car and Tamy's car then departed back for Inawashiro to set up the new cats in houses and Jim, Eija, and I drove to Namie to feed the big chicken coop.
At the chicken coop we had a photoshoot!
Other than the chickens we drove around and scouted for animals, seeing several cats, but unable to catch any. We returned to Inawashiro to help with the animals and the Yokota base friends left to return again in two weeks!