Monday June 27th saw us heading back to our new favorite veterinarian at the Amy Pet Clinic in Koriyama. We wanted to get Sir-Gimps-A-Lot's (oh, dark humor) elbow issues checked out. I figured there wasn't much that could be done by a regular veterinarian, especially in Japan, but I wanted to make sure he at least wasn't in excruciating pain.
The veterinarian immediately ordered radiographs and my suspicions were confirmed. Both elbows were dislocated and had been so for a very long time (probably since birth). He felt that there wasn't anything to be done except manage his pain when he strained himself so he sent us home with Rimadyl. It was disheartening that there wasn't anything that could immediately be done. At home in the U.S. we would send this dog to an orthopedic specialist. He could be given a wheelchair or go through physical therapy or maybe even undergo surgery to address the problem. However, here in Japan, there are very few veterinary specialists. Maybe I'll fly Kangaroo (the dog's real name from his original guardian) home with me if his guardian will surrender (unlikely).
Beyond that, Monday was just spent doing animal care.
On Tuesday June 28th we decided that scouting in Kawamata and Namie was a good idea because I was worried about the pregnant mama cat at the Hello Shop. We couldn't find her when we got there so we continued with our feeding route through Kawamata and Namie. As we drove we noticed that there was a dramatic increase in the number of cats that we were seeing. We conjuctured as to why that would be the case and I realized that the huge piles of food we had previously been seeing along the roadways dropped by other rescue groups had been absent for weeks. Worried that the cats would starve waiting along the road for food that wasn't coming, we made the decision to pick up as many as possible that day.
As we made our way towards the chickens we picked up an orange tabby who we named Edmund, a talkative tortoiseshell christened Kathy (for Chatty Kathy), and a skinny calico dubbed Julia.
We made it to the chickens and fed and watered them. Then we headed over to the house where Fran and I had picked up all of the dogs and cats the previous weekend. We immediately saw a tortoiseshell that I had left behind because she was clearly lactating but the kittens couldn't be found. Now that we had the go ahead to pick up all of the cats from their house we followed her inside and searched for the kittens. Inside of the house was even more terrible than the outside. One whole room was occupied but tons and tons of sheets and shirts and futons piled knee high. The place stunk to high heaven. We found a half eaten bag of ferret food and a cage that looked ferret-sized. Who knows what happened to the ferret...
It took quite a while, but eventually we found the kittens. They were nestled inside a drawer in one of the back rooms. Tiny at about 2 and a half weeks old they were the most adorable little poof balls. We gathered them and the mom up and carefully loaded them into the van with the 3 other cats.
Prissy, one of the other kittens in Naomi's litter. I swear this is the most beautiful kitten that has ever kittened. I want to write a love song to her. However, she knows she's gorgeous and plays it up. Photo courtesy of Sylvia Hatsutani.
We turned around and headed back for Inawashiro, but picked up two more cats along the way. Charlie, a grouchy female black and white cat with a Hitler 'stache, and Greta, a pregnant calico.
After we arrived back in Inawashiro we decided that we had to go back the next day to pick up more cats. But we needed to bring more carriers....
So Wednesday June the 29th saw us back in Namie armed with greater numbers of carriers and cat traps and cat food. We were determined to pick up as many cats as we could! But we ended up only getting two. In Kawamata we caught an all white female cat whom we named Ivanna because she looks like a Russian cat model. It was as we were trying to trap the black cat who was clearly her friend that the wonderfully ineffective and annoying cops pulled up to ask what we were doing. Their brief visit was enough to scare the black cat away from the trap.
We also caught an orange and white tabby boy (who ended up being feral, it's really hard to tell when you set a trap for a starved cat if they will be friendly or not) in Namie. We named him Sid (Sid Vicious) because the day after his rescue he escaped from his cage and tore Selena and myself up as we tried to wrangle him back into it.
Sid is the happy guy on the left! Kind of reminds me of the "Very Angry Cat" video. Photo courtesy of Susan Roberts.
WARNING: This next bit is pretty graphic. Do not read if you are squeamish.
When Susan and I got back to Club LOHAS we found Selena wrestling with Taro. The previous day Selena had noticed that he was nibbling at his butt. I immeditely suspected anal gland issues because he was current on flea prevention so it probably wasn't a flea allergy response. Selena managed to hold him still long enough for me to express his glands. The gland material was chunky and pus-filled. Thinking that he just had infected anal glands (a volunteer veterinarian had just come by earlier that week and given him a quick exam and found nothing wrong) I instructed Selena to take him to Ami Pet Clinic in Koriyama while Susan and I went to pick up cats.
By the time Selena had gotten Taro to Koriyama, chunks of his fur was falling off of his back. Ami sensei shaved a bit of his back and underneath the skin was swarming with literally hundreds of maggots. I guess Taro wasn't behaving too well at the vet because Ami sent him home with instructions for Selena to "shave his entire body and spray him with some pink liquid." Just another example of how the Japanese vets we have come across all suck at their jobs.
So Selena was trying to shave Taro with the 3000 yen (about $35, really cheap) clippers we purchased a few weeks previous. Obviously it wasn't going well. Luckily, our fantastic volunteer, Kate (the one who actually rescued Taro from the Ofunato hokenjo), had mailed us some more legitimate clippers the previous week. I brought these out and turned them on to hear what sounded like a freight train. A screw seemed to be loose or something and the clippers made a maddening sound. Taro, rightly, freaked out. I had to have both Selena and Pauline restrain him with a muzzle so I could stuff his ears with cotton balls and get to work.
Ultimately it took us 4 hours to shave Taro's whole body. I picked off hundreds of maggots (don't worry, I had gloves...that totally makes it better...) by hand and with tweezers and drowned them in an alcohol/pink liquid from Ami sensei bath. It was like something out of a horror movie. Every new body part shaved revealed a fresh nest of parasites. The maggots were particularly concentrated around his testicles and anus. Even after I was done shaving him I couldn't get them all out. I could see them crawling just beneath his skin. I'm lucky that I have a strong stomach, but even I was close to vomiting several times.
Later we learned that this was not an uncommon thing to happen in Japan in the summer, especially in hokenjos (animal control facilities). The dogs sit in standing water for long periods of time and the wet skin underneath the fur becomes the perfect breeding ground for the maggots. I'd only seen maggots on necrotic tissue before so it was a whole experience for me. One I hope to never have to repeat. I can't even begin to imagine how painful it was for Taro. In the weeks after we de-bugged him he became a much sweeter dog (though still prone to the occasional random bite).
Thursday July 28th was spent trying to bleach our minds of the horror of the previous night and getting all the cats settled in. We had to rig up some jacked up cages since we had over 30 cats by this point. I'm surrounded by cats.