Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sheltered life

This weekend I got to take a fellow Iwakian to visit the shelter with me, I met her by mentioning JCN in a facebook group for locals to try and grab some new people. So far I’ve nabbed Wesley (the vet tech from 2 weeks ago) and now Kimberly. Oh, the wonders of the internet.

First we got to meet the new puppies that just came in from the 30km area, Kim fully admitted to not being a dog person, but really, no one can deny the cuteness of tiny puppies; even ones that seem to manage to have poop on themselves at all times. The white girl was my favorite, but she seemed to be a bit of a bully to the others. Either way, all of them were quite adorable and surprisingly patient when it came time to clean their fur, these guys seem like they will be very easy to train in the coming weeks.

Later in the day, Takumi took us to see the kittens that are in a local foster home. No matter how many times I work with babies of any species, it still amazes me how fast they grow, just two weeks ago one of these cuties would fit in the palm of my hand, now it takes 2 hands. We also learned some great news from Takumi, not only have all 3 caught up in their weight, but there are now potential adopters for all of them! The foster parents want the orange and gray tabbies, and an international volunteer wants the black one, which is just superb.

so shiny
Upon coming back to the shelter, which has Club Lohas as its bottom floor, we were shocked to see 3 shiny guests, a 1984 Lotus, 1973 Lotus and a 2010 Alfa Romeo! For whatever reason the Japanese men who drove them requested that Kim and I pose with their cars, but I won’t complain since it meant I got to admire the cars for awhile longer. These guys stuck around for a long time, and were pretty entertaining guests.

For dinner, I made chili for everyone, and Maaya joined us. Sweet little Maaya was found in some debris over a year after the disaster, and she had gotten so used to eating trash to survive that she still often prefers human food and plastic over cat food. While finishing dinner, Yuuko, who runs Club Lohas, invited all of us out to karaoke in town. Was a superb way to end the day, just relaxing with everyone (Kim, Howard, Yuuko, Takumi and Aki), also got to learn that Takumi is an incredible singer and that Cobra Starship is available on machines out in the boonies. 
Maaya sleeping
love you too Joni

Susan, who is the founder of Japan Cat Network, is away in Shiga at the moment handling things at the main shelter with her husband, so I slept in her bed and discovered just how starved for attention the cats in that room have been without Susan there. Around 5am Joni and Dylan woke me up by biting and suckling the blanket I was under, and then Joni decided to sit on my face to make sure I was alive. 

After walking the dogs for the morning (Kim’s first time walking a dog by the way!), we took a trip over to Comya, the coffee shop across the street to get some breakfast. Both their baked goods and drinks were divine, and we made the startling discovery that this small town coffee shop was the origin of all things hipster. Seriously, all things. 
also, they have Gremlins on record.

look at that face!
Once the coffee kicked in, Kim and I took Michitaro, who is quite regal until he gets excited, on a nice trip to a local park. A lot of children proclaimed that he was scary, but there were a few brave little ones that came over to give him love, which was also nice because it gave us a chance to tell people about the shelter. It is really a shame how few people in the area know about our existence, so it’s very helpful to take the animals on trips like this to get them some much needed exposure and hopefully get more adopters coming in, because all of them really deserve a forever home, not just a shelter.

Nala <3
 Update on Nala, our FIV+ girl: she is still nearly a skeleton, but she has been gaining weight and is becoming a lot more interested in cuddling. My current fear about her is that I think she may be losing her fur, but that has not seemed to stop her from enjoying being stroked and brushed all day. Nala is just the sweetest thing, and I seriously wish there was a forever home for her so that she could get the full devotion she deserves.

Dylan loving life
Ah, I nearly forgot! The catillion that Caroline had started for the cats 2 weeks ago has now been finished and everyone just adores the chance to get fresh air. There is no way I can properly thank Caroline for dreaming up and creating this great spot, it’s fantastic. 

I will close this entry out with with one more photo of some of the guys waiting for dinner 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Does not compute

People often ask me why I tend to choose animal companionship over other humans, and today here in Iwaki I was given a good example of just why that is.

There is a colony of cats near one of the preschools I teach English at, so every Monday they get a visit, along with lots of food and attention. This week, while they were all running over to get some food, one of the cats appearances made my jaw simply drop...
not Photoshopped
Someone took one of the cats and painted them! At first I thought he maybe just landed in some wet paint somewhere, but then I noticed this guy also had new injuries since last week, and even though he had been the most friendly before, today he was very timid.
It simply boggles my mind why anyone would want to do this to an animal. Any animal.

the colony last week

My goal is to save up some money and trap these guys so they can get fixed and vaccinated, plus a few of them have eye gunk that I want to treat with lysine, and if I can get them trusting people enough, it'd be awesome to treat them to a grooming session.

Monday, May 14, 2012

JCN Fukushima shelter

My writing skills are terrible, but I suppose that something is better than nothing at all, so here is my first attempt at doing volunteer notes about this last weekend at the Inawashiro shelter.

First, let me give everyone a quick overview of the general structure of a day:
Morning routine begins at 8am, this includes feeding all the animals, cleaning all the rooms, walking the dogs and giving our sick tenants their medications (whether they want it or not)
If there is only one person there, the routine takes from 8am till around lunch.
If there are 2+ people, it is typically over by 10:30am.

After the morning routines are finished with, and if it is not a zone day, volunteers are free to do whatever they please. Be it cleaning, organizing, cuddling animals, sightseeing or simply taking a nap. I personally tend to take the route of keeping busy with cleaning and petting the cuties, but to each their own.

Evening routine begins at 5pm and consists of feeding everyone, cleaning the cages again, walking the dogs and then putting them in their kennels for the night (there are foxes, tanuki and bears in the area, so our boys aren’t allowed to have nights outside), and ensuring everyone has had their medications.
Again, if there is only one person, this takes forever, and depending on how willing the special needs babies are with taking their meds, it can also sometimes end with a few tears.
With 2+ people, it feels like a breeze since you have good conversations and helping hands to burrito kitties and trick animals into swallowing pills.

On a zone day, we typically load up the van with food, cages and emergency equipment the night before and head out around 10am, and return whenever things are done, be that 5pm, or 2am.
While out there, duties consist of refilling feeding stations, scouting for animals, checking on our feral colonies (JCN does TNR as well), talking with locals, and inevitably getting stopped by the police a million times to check our papers. It is immensely hard work and sometimes can be utterly heartbreaking, but every animal out there that is still in need makes it more than worth it.

Anyways, that is a basic run down of the daily happenings at the Japan Cat Network Fukushima shelter, now on to what specifically happened this particular weekend.

Nala <3
Nala, who was quite recently diagnosed with FIV (Feline AIDS), was being a lot friendlier then the last time I got to visit 2 weeks ago. Last time Nala would try to struggle and do her pathetic growls during medicine time, this trip she actually cuddled with Caroline and I on several occasions. She is still practically a walking skeleton and it pains me every time I see this poor little one in such a state, but with the IV drips, high calorie foods and diligent care by our volunteers, she has an infinitely higher chance then she did a month ago when she was still in the 30km. There’s no doubt in my mind that if JCN had not found her, Nala would not be alive today.

Wesley weighing Sam
This weekend was quite busy medically speaking, JCN got a great new volunteer vet tech for the weekend named Wesley, and she gave every cat eye drops several times a day to help them with the cold that spread through C room. Wesley also gave deworming and parasite treatments to all of our dogs, and managed to weigh even our huge Sam on a small bathroom scale. Caroline, who was visiting from Australia, got many cuts from the not so happy cats while helping with the treatments, but she was quite a trooper and just laughed off the scratches and moved on to the next task. She is an amazing woman. 

visiting his deity relatives
Caroline and I also took our newest dog, Chachamaru, on a great adventure in between morning and evening routines. This poor boy was just craving love after a year alone and Caroline wanted to see the area, so we took him to the beach at Lake Inawashiro, a local park and even Aizu castle to run and get loved by lots of excited children. He ate up every minute of it. He even temporarily got renamed (butterfly) because he was so happy.

Caroline also showed off her creative side by designing and beginning to build an outside catilion so that the cats can get some fresh air now that the weather is getting nicer. 

Lastly, I finally got to meet the tiny bundles of joy that one of our local supporters are fostering, these 3 are really active and their foster is seriously their mama. 
ball of cute

Right before I had to leave Sunday, all of us enjoyed a dinner at Club Lohas, which is the restaurant right underneath the shelter. The amazing owner, Yuuko, made me the best ice coco ever.

If you would like to help Japan Cat Network continue their work of helping the animals of the Fukushima exclusion zone, please go here: http://japancatnet.com/donate/
Every amount counts, as it costs 5,000Y in tolls alone just to make a single trip to all of the areas JCN helps.