Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fear and the Princess

March 3rd is the doll festival celebration here in Japan, and Claire is our princess. I've been reading an interesting blogpost from Upward Hound about watching our dog's body language for awareness of fear-related dogbites, Listen to the Whisper. When Lady Claire was rescued from the pound, she nearly wasn't because she was such a (canine ladder of aggression rung 8 and 9) stiff, staring, fearsome growler and aggressive-looking barker, but I've only ever seen her snap and vent at unwanted attentions from over-ardent butt-sniffing males. She's softened up in her old age as she has become accustomed to jostling and space-invasions from boisterous Nobunaga, Luna and now Sherlock...she knows it's not about her after all.
I borrowed Sheperd K.'s 2009 visual canine ladder of aggression from the blog, very interesting to think about the different ways each of my doggies talk to me...sad to say, poor old Sherlock came to us on rung 6, with his tail tucked under and crouched down like a dachshund. In the early days, Sherlock has actually snapped and drawn blood at the mistaken invasion of a kiss...but that was based on human folly...a mere shaving accident, as it were... Only this morning he was on rung 7 with me for some reason, rolling over with one leg up as though he wanted a belly rub, only he's ticklish and hates belly rubs and messing with paws or hindquarters...perhaps because yesterday I was a bit out of sorts and short of my own temper and must admit I slapped him smartly on the shoulder a couple of times for barking...at the table, at the door, at the gate...ah the folly of the raised hand, sorry sweetie...
Finally sweet-tempered Nobunaga, who loves babies and small children, and who has never growled, snapped or bitten in his life, using rungs 1-4 with great aplomb. He's so aware, watching carefully himself to see how the humans are taking things and what his best evasive or inviting moves are.
 He does love to playbite though, jumping and jousting and nipping mummy, arms, chest, bitey bite, let's play now, please! I have successfully taught him what a toy is, thank heavens, and when he gets in close to wrestle, I have a toy on hand to thrust in his hungry jaw...he is also good enough to respect "That's enough!"...what a darling...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Chilly Monday

 Psyching myself up to go for the afternoon walkies...it never got sunny like the weather forecast said and my hands are still cold from two hours in the park this morning! The contents of the toy basket are strewn all over the floor, and Claire has had a wee garden session barking at neighborhood cats and howling along with an ambulance, so it's about time...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Special Treat

Dog Cafe Anjin had a one coin Sunday, with delicious lobster spaghetti, salad and a side of bread for 500 yen. After a rather short evening walkies, we made our way there to enjoy the bounty.
Nobu and Claire are fixated on the doggie plates, but Sherlock has had a whiff of something more alluring...
...even though I asked for a smaller portion, this is apparently the smaller portion. After Anjin Mama helping feed the dogs while I ate in peace, the dogs were happy to slurp some spaghetti and crackle snack the shell of the lobster...don't worry, I picked out the onions!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Upside Down

Nearly supper time after a dreamy day...Nobunaga shows us how to relax and reboot...
No need to worry, everything's going to be all right...the world from right side up or upside down, whatever, it's just a moment in the eternity of the universe...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Japanese Dakiningyo

Meet Mami, a little sister for Hiromi. Today a best friend (I sure am blessed with wonderful loving friends) took me to the Yamato antiques flea-market, held every third Saturday of the month, and I felt her calling me from across the stalls...no way I could resist.
She's a cutie, just the right kind of company for Hiromi, the eighty year old doll I was gifted by a neighbor...here they are together, rescued like our setters from oblivion, now happy additions to our family. Hiromi is looking like a big sister already!
It's so funny the way their mood changes every second, their faces are so expressive, just like us humans, just like setters, sentient beings. Japanese craftsmanship is superb in that way, Hiromi and Mami really come alive.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Record of Abuse

Hi, I'm Nobunaga. I was abandoned because I ate too much and wanted to play. Well, and wanted to get out some, and meet friends too. I guess I got too big too fast. The breeder or shop who sold me didn't offer any help or advice to my first family, and didn't offer to take me back when my owner didn't want me any more, so I got thrown out. Probably driven away by car, which is why I will never get in a car voluntarily ever again. Period. 
I got lucky, because when Mummy got me, I was so thin and weak, I couldn't walk, I couldn't pee standing up, I had such a weak digestive system from lack of walkies, I was vomiting a lot and had constant diarrhea. On my way to meet my maker, I guess...so I want to beg you to protect me and other dogs like me, with compulsory registered owner information in microchips. Yes, and a nationwide database to identify abusive owners and irresponsible breeders, rapacious pet stores, so they don't get a chance to ruin the next doggie life they take a fancy to. America has one, don't let them take it down. See, some bloggers are saving the info, and helping us! Information is power! Spread the word! Let's have support here in Japan too!
Hi, I'm Sherlock Holmes. My owner trained me so hard to heel, beat me up with a stick when I wouldn't do things the right way, kicked me, I was like a zombie and kept my belly close to the ground for safety...so scary, every day, not sure where the next moment of pain was coming from, couldn't relax, trying so hard so hard to be good, see me wagging my tail tucked at my belly, see, good, good, but what should I do to be good in your eyes? Not sure, oh boy, but it's coming, your anger, my pain, your anger...every muscle in my body rigid with fear, frozen...and I try so hard, and you just throw me out...worthless? broken? cherry eye genes? Can't look you in the face, never, don't hit me, who are you? 
And I'm learning to see who my Mummy is now, love in voice and eyes, trust in freedom, understand my own mind and control my own body, so I want to beg you to protect me and other dogs like me, with compulsory registered owner information in microchips. Yes, and a nationwide database to identify abusive owners and irresponsible breeders, rapacious pet stores, so they don't get a chance to ruin the next doggie life they take a fancy to. Information is power!
Hello. I'm Claire. I'm really good at hunting, scents, birds, flight paths, wind, angles, woodlands...I lock on to birds like you wouldn't believe...but I guess I just got too old, or maybe my owner just got too old and gave up on caring for me, his family won't care for me...so confusing to be rejected, abandoned, it breaks my heart, I don't understand. I miss him. I'm good at chasing the postman too, and barking at intruders, how can a whole life just get taken away in one moment? Behind bars. No exit. No light. No love.
I know I got lucky, saved by CACI, cages and more cages, biding my time to find Mummy...so I want to beg you to protect me and other dogs like me, with compulsory registered owner information in microchips. Yes, and a nationwide database to identify abusive owners and irresponsible breeders, rapacious pet stores, so they don't get a chance to ruin the next doggie life they take a fancy to. Information is power! Spread the word!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Setter Valentine

Went on a date with my babies to the Forest Park...just out of the car, Sherlock's leash slipped out of my hand and he was off in a twinkling trailing his leash behind like a gaily fluttering ribbon...

Various people in the park gave me helful hints about his whereabouts, and he came back to me after circling both the parking area and then the whole park, happily chasing a pigeon at the pond before trotting over contentedly to rejoin our setter group. 
Pleased as plum, we all wandered around and around the various sections of the park, saying hello to doggie friends, enjoying chasing birds at the pond, sploshing in the stream, wandering through the plum blossoms...
Sherlock was having a ball, look Mummy, look Mummy, if we stop for a second he's hollering at the top of his lungs with excitement, trying to tell me where to go next...
Happy Valentine! Says Claire. Love is in the air!
 All you need is love!
 What me? Says Nobu...jumping on Mummy, bitey bite...never!