Sunday, August 31, 2014

Family stroll

 At last the rain has held off for a full day, and it's just right for a long Sunday afternoon walk in the park...lots of pigeons, doggie friends to meet and greet, and cats in the bushes to be sniffed out. 

Training Luna to check in with Nobu, who saunters along at a stately pace behind the overexcited ladies...they rush on ahead, and then we double back, to get Luna into a more circular pattern of motion, checking in with her pack, rather than just dashing off into the blue after the heady scents.
 On the way home, she was overtired and so I popped her up on my shoulder for a bit to let her catch her breath...looks like she's enjoying the special treatment... Good thing she's not as heavy as Claire or Nobunaga, otherwise this would be impossible.
 Her body and legs might be protesting and giving out under her, but mentally she's still totally in hunting mode, from the looks of this picture! What a dynamic, powerful but goofy little baby Luna is! No idea of her body's limits, no idea how to pace herself...once again I am in awe of how clever Nobu and Claire are compared to Luna.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Late morning walk

 Luna and Claire are sporting their gorgeous new Ruffwear leashes to match their new collars...Luna's leash was the newest, but she pulls so much and scrapes it going round corners it was quite battered and fraying. Claire's was the oldest, courtesy of Jojo's parents, brought over from the States before it became available here in Japan. Nobu is the most sober and sedate lately, so I washed his orange leash and it will last a little longer. Luna loves this late morning walk, one friendly doggie mama always gives them treats if she's in, but today she was out on errands...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Drooling Dog

 Chiaro di Luna is on garden patrol, leaving great trails of drool as she gulps down water and heads back to her hunting grounds...Mummy is drooling too with parodontosis, on pain meds and anti-inflammatories and unable to psych myself up to mop the floors in Luna's wake...
 The air has a hint of autumn, and it would really be a day for a nice soothing walk, but I'm not sure I'm up for it today...
 Claire is on guard duty, making sure the postman and delivery trucks know she's right there watching them...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Luna Spotting

 As of August 24th Luna has been spotting and her vulva is engorged which means she is in heat for about 21 days from yesterday, the first week her body is getting ready and then around Day 16 she ovulates, and the eggs live for four or five days, which means around Day 21 we can relax again. Just as it is getting cooler and I plan to take the babies to the dog runs! Frustrating...Of course it varies with each individual dog, I notice looking back over the blog she had her first period with us on Xmas eve, so that makes a nine month cycle rather than a six month cycle. Lots of good advice on how to recognize bitches in heat and what to be aware of at Pet Happy. Mind you, I don't think Luna's heat was too much trouble the first time round, nothing special about walkies, and she did her training fine on day 21 odd, so here's hoping. I think here in the metropolis most dogs are neutered, so it's less of a problem than in the countryside, where they run loose freely. Luna does seem a little hungrier than usual, but she always is scavenging and on the lookout for an extra tidbit, so it figures.
PS Ordinarily rescue dogs are spayed, as we did with Nobunaga (Claire had already had her operation when she arrived). However my vet says Chiaro di Luna is in no condition to be spayed, and even her rabies shot was waived this spring with a note from the vet...fortunately her November 2013 rabies shot is still valid for some time). In June an ultrasound confirmed her spleen is on the verge of rupturing, which, if it were her only issue, could be operated on, but since she has multiple issues, we can't: as with the pyometra, the vet said best to let her live out her time, and take her to Nasu and give her whatever she wants! Now Luna is a feisty little thing and seems to be enjoying life and hanging on in there, which is fine by me, but that's why we can't have her spayed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Individual Nobunaga

 Fantastic 2014 TED talk by Laurel Braitman on animal depression: "Depressed dogs, cats with OCD: what animal madness means for us humans". What I like best is her conclusion that we need to see each animal as an individual, and that interspecies bonding is very real and very rewarding, with scientific studies of raised oxytocin levels confirming it. This talk also reminds us that the pharma industry tested all the depression drugs on animals first...and notes that same as individual humans, each individual animal reacts in their own way to their environment. Includes a nuanced take on anthropomorphism too. This TEDtalk was recommended by a student on the Coursera course on Animal Behavior and Welfare offered by Edinburgh Uni. It's well worth the twenty minutes.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What goes around...

Sofie came by to check up on Luna Tuesday night, and they seemed to get along like wildfire, don't you dare take her with you yet, I said, I want her here with me a little longer yet...
One of the CACI Gundog rescue family said to me:"Don't thank me, I did it for Chiaro di Luna to be happy. If you want to thank me, pass it forward and pitch in when another dog goes missing"...
....which reminded me of the two missing dogs I have helped get back to their owners...

...The family were driving home in incipient rain, bumper to bumper both sides of the road in the local Sunday afternoon traffic jam, when I saw a giant golden labrador in the middle of the road, vacillating and looking like it would try to dart between cars to cross, but not getting up the courage. You guys go on home, I said, and jumped out of the car. I didn't have a leash, but just walked up, took the guy by the collar and led him to safety at the side of the road. I was actually scared of big dogs then, so this took an enormous amount of courage, only it turns out this dog was such a sweetie, it wasn't really scary at all. We crossed the road together again, and, with my hand on his collar the whole time, walked the twenty odd minutes all the way to my house, where I towel dried him and sat with him in the entrance hall, to keep him calm. Called the police, and then had an hour or so sitting with him, and we just bonded, I was blown away by his intelligence and gentleness.
The owner came by, insinuating that I had stolen the dog from the supermarket, said he had just picked the dog up from a year at the Police Training Academy and stopped off to shop on the way home, tying the dog at the store entrance...When he tried to take the labrador home, he wouldn't go with his owner, he was like clawing at the tiles to stay as the owner literally tried to drag him out. "I'll walk with you," I said, "He trusts me, you need to get him home so that he can feel safe." "Oh no" said the owner, "I have to stop by and thank the police!" So I walked with them to the police box, and saw how the owner looped the leash around the chair without tying the knot, and realized how the dog had got loose the first time, scared and feeling abandoned in a strange place with the new and unfamiliar owner disappearing, no communication with his dog...I walked home up the hill with them, and felt like I was betraying him, handing this intelligent beautiful being over to a life of stifling unloving boring people, who just wanted a DOG. I was so upset when they delivered a box of biscuits later, I just wanted to know the dog was going to be safe and happy...I tried going back the next day with treats to visit, and they wouldn't even open the front gate, "Go home!" they said over the intercom, "We can't have our dog bonding with a stranger." I was heartbroken and cried for a week, and wished I hadn't notified the police...there are degrees of cruelty, and ownership was uncontested...But I had learned from this brief encounter and doomed love-affair, just how big-hearted and beautiful, what incredible souls big dogs have.
The second lost dog we helped was on a family walk with Nobu and Claire, and I noticed a smallish dog behind some fenced off prefectural land (now a new housing development) and wandered over with Nobunaga to check it out. It was a friendly beagle, obviously lost, so I looped Nobu's leash through her collar and we walked slowly home, asking everyone we met on the way whether they knew the owner. We arrived home, and I walked a little more in the other direction, letting the beagle have her head, still looped to Nobu, in the hope that she would lead us to her home, but she was just enjoying the walk, so obviously not intent on finding home yet, rather having fun! So I took her home, and wow, this lady was on the go, dashing up and down the stairs and playing tag with Nobu, who thought the whole thing hilarious. Beagles are a bundle of energy! We called the police and a half hour or so later, just before the police arrived, a doggie friend I had asked earlier turned up with the owners, he had met them as they searched way over yonder and made the connection...come in, I said, let's have a cool drink of tea. The two ladies called their family with the good news, they came over in their intimidating black car, and the whole family (Dad came running up in his socks!) bundled in and off. I was a bit nonplussed, it was all so rushed, but all's well that ends well...
...and so now it is my turn to regain my lost child, and Chiaro di Luna is safely snoozing as I type, Sofie was watching over her from the rainbow bridge, and all is well in our household, as I once again thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping bring her back to be with her family.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Search

Luna was missing for a full 8 and a half days...snoozing on Tuesday morning I was woken by a frantic call for help saying Luna was gone. When I first arrived at the small backroad junction where she had run down a field, I walked with Claire and Nobu, asking them to find Luna and calling her name as we dived along a back road, and along field verges and copses, skirting ponds, and I hit another back road, feeling totally lost. I turned right and was asking an elderly gentleman if he had seen Luna, and asking how to get back to Pension Olive, but he couldn't really understand what I was asking, and I began to feel very lost myself, until I saw Tosh walking and waving from the T-junction on the right...Having walked back to the Pension, the gremlin got in the works, and for some reason my phone wouldn't put calls through. This was really scary, as I knew Luna's phone was on her collar, and I expected a call any minute, only things weren't working. I thought the Softbank reception was down, and asked the Pension to kindly lend me their landline to call the police, the town hall and the animal welfare authorities. I wasn't used to FB on my new phone, or anything, so I was running around again after breakfast up and down the road calling and calling for Luna. Around 11am as I explained our plight to a family going home, they kindly told me Softbank was working fine, and I realized it must be my phone! I had the inspiration to reboot, it being a computer, and bingo, it was working! I immediately called CACI to plead for help, explaining the situation...and the rest is history

I am so grateful to CACI, the CACI family immediately offered incredible help, warmth, and expert setter advice. I learned to make a rank, odorous scent bag, with hair brushings from Nobu and Claire, mixed with pieces of sweaty T-shirt and neck towels shredded into small pieces, and urine caught in paper towels or toilet paper. Very ripe! I had to get back to Nasu after the typhoon to reset the scents: apparently sweat and spit last for longer than urine, so on the Wednesday when my bag of scents ran out I was spitting along the roadside as I walked, marking the way "home" for Luna.  If you look at the map, you can see Luna was running up to the Pension Olive area only on the wrong side of the river, she was sighted on the Friday evening north of Maniwa Farm near Kashiwa Jinja by an elderly gentleman, she was looking confused, he said. No wonder, if the river hadn't been inbetween and confused her, she would have been able to walk home to Olive from there at a right angle...Perhaps she could even smell the scents, only not clearly.  Since setters roam incredibly far, perhaps the strong setting of scents around Olive helped to keep her close by. Good girl!
Every day on my behalf, CACI foster Dads and Mums were tweeting and blogging and actually walking the area searching, handing out posters and raising awareness. It was an incredible dynamic effort, and I am just so grateful everything worked out fine in the end. Thank you all so much for your incredible generosity! I am just so overjoyed Luna is home :) 
I thought I didn't have the energy to go back up again Wednesday, I was pretty exhausted from the 23 hour stint on Monday, but with comforting cups of tea with friends, walking with Nobu and Claire, and Rie Kaneko CACI CEO sending me powerful energy via the universe, I tanked up on gas in the evening, made a new scent bag, threw a sleeping bag in the car again, woke up at 0100 Wednesday morning and just set off. At 03:30 I got mail saying there was a giant standstill 25km traffic jam and to not bother coming, but thank God I had set off earlier than planned, and hit the tail-end already! So I just called and said, yes, I'm coming, and rolled down the windows, listening to Thalia Habita Me Siempre album "A donde vas, porque tu vayas...." (great driving music, soothing and longing and celebrating the joy of being together, totally LUNA!) and crawling through to Nasu just after dawn 0600 odd. I headed straight for Tensui Soba, where she had been sighted Monday midnight, set scents all round the garden and parking space, and then met up with the CACI team Rie and Atsuko. Atsuko drove me as I threw scent bombs out the window all the way to Pension Olive from Tensui, and then we stopped off at a supermarket to buy brekkie, but I didn't want to get out of the car in case my scent there misled her. I split up from the CACI crew, deciding to walk from Tensui to Pension Olive (roughly 6kms) to set scents strongly, and got there around 09:30, about an hour and a half, stopping to talk to people and hand out leaflets on the way, but not deviating from the roadside, as Luna would get confused. When I got to Olive, they kindly let me borrow their loo, and I set off back again, swigging jasmine tea and poddling along in the heat. There was another set of Bato Kannnon 馬頭観音像・石碑 stones along the way, so I cleared away some weeds, set a flower and prayed again. I got back to Tensui for an early lunch just past 11 am, and after visualizing Luna coming to me surrounded by a great circle of Gods and friends, and asking her to stay safe and wait, I was coming, I fell asleep in their garden.  When I woke up, I needed to buy some drink and scissors to chop up my sweaty T-shirt for more markings, I was going to stay the night in the car to see if Luna came by at midnight, so around 1600 I dropped by the 7-11 and then drove out to Olive again, just to make sure Luna hadn't turned up after all, and walked up and down the 2kms to the spot where she disappeared again. It was getting on for supper, and I needed to be awake for midnight, so I thought to get an early supper and turn in, I had just reached the parking spot when the call came in.

 I really couldn't believe my ears, a sighting, I said, you've seen her? "We have her" they said. "You're sure it's her, you have her?" Yes, they said we have her here. OMG, I'm coming, I said, where, Maniwa Farm? Just 500m along from Maniwa Farm, they said. OMG, I'm coming, I said. I was able to drive over safely, counted the 500metres on the dial, and there were two guys waiting for me in the driveway, so I made a right turn...and as I got closer, I saw it was her, really, that sweet sad little face, smoochy little was really her! I was too busy rushing out of the car and sobbing with delight, falling to my knees and taking her on my lap, the elderly gentleman loosened the twine he had her tied with, so I grabbed her collar and held it tight tight tight as I sobbed, so she didn't head off hunting again, as she wagged and licked me and squirmed. I was so elated, I was scared I might let go, so I put her in the driver seat of the car, and asked for a name and address to send some Yokohama souvenirs as a thank you for finding Luna. All this while a young Dad had been standing next to us, cuddling his toddler and beaming, and finally he asked me to move my car so he could go home, and I realized he wasn't from there, so I asked. He said he saw the hunt for Luna on FB, and had made the special phone call happen, but I was so elated and confused and emotional, I didn't ask any clarifying questions, just stammered thank you again and again, got his name and address, and moved the car so he could leave. I cleared the seat, called CACI with the news, and headed home myself with my baby! The Yokohama treats went out today, they should arrive tomorrow...thank you so much for finding my baby and calling me!
I stopped off at Maniwa Farm, Pension Olive and Tensui Soba to spread the good news, they were all so cooperative during the search, so many people to thank, so much love going round, Chiaro di Luna is truly blessed and watched over by angels. I got home around midnight, driving through in a kind of high, stopping off at Sano parking area when Luna passed a fruity wind to let her pass stool...a quick pee and a drink, and off I was into the holiday rush hour late evening traffic, taillights gaily leading me home through the narrow city freeways: together again with Luna, anything was possible! We got home round midnight....what an adventure! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Before the Storm! Nasu Day 2

On our second day of our summer holiday, we went shopping in the morning before it got really hot, first dropping in Shiawase Dog which had moved, and was way in the boonies: unfortunately also closed Monday morning that day, little did I know that the poster for a lost dog there would soon be added to. On our way up to the Herb store, we stopped off at dog boutique Bee&Bee, and got Claire and Luna new flower power handmade collars.
 Popped in the herb store to buy their delicious herb tea blends, while the man very kindly walked the dogs in the area, no dogs inside and it's too hot to leave them in the car. A blend of marjoram and palma rosa in marigold oil I bought there helped save Luna's life in the spring, I mixed it and I rubbed it on her belly for the pyometra. We got a bit lost on all the back roads and saw cutie groups of monkeys and snakes, all very exciting, before we finally found our way back to Miruphony + DOG for Mummy to have an unforgettable cofee jelly, and the dogs to have unforgettable waffles.
It's a fantastic cafe, so spacious and full of light with a view onto the woods, very relaxing. They also have a great selection of handcrafted doggie goods and treats, last year we bought Nobunaga a Nosebleed leather collar here, with a very distinct horseshoe buckle. Nice to browse as the dogs relax on the polished wood floor, waiting for their waffles :P
After that it was time for lunch (I have an infinite capacity for coffee jelly and sweet stuff), so we proceeded to Tensui soba for a fantastic lunch with the dogs on the terrace.
Since eating soba with Claire at Wanko Soba Rotta in Odawara some years ago, I knew she loves soba too, so I was busy sharing the slurpies under the table. Of course, it turned out Chiaro di Luna and Nobunaga are fans of delicious soba noodles too!

After this busy morning running around shopping, it was time to get back to the dog run for some splosh and run and nap before the delicious evening meal...everything seemed perfect, nothing could go wrong, oooh, just a couple more days recharging batteries and relaxing, I thought...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chiaro di Luna Hunting

Luna is finally back to her old self, after her morning walk she is now sauntering round and round the house and garden hunting for whatever it is she seems to see, freezing and setting here and there, and popping into the kitchen for hurried gulps of water, then leaving a wet slobbery trail to the door as she dashes back to the garden to have fun! I am so relieved, she's home hale and hearty!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Supper Snapshots

Love begins at home...

Amazing how dogs bring people together, broaden social networks, helping their owners make new friends in truly blessed ways: look at this beautiful picture Basil's mummy made to celebrate Luna's homecoming. Angels at work :)

All three are now dozing around the house (Luna at my feet under the kitchen table) after the morning walk and a good brekkie, and at last I have peace of mind to share some pictures of our holiday. We arrived in Nasu Sunday morning and spent some time lazing in the dog run at Pension Olive acclimatizing, only it was really hot there after 10am as well.
Fortunately they have a fantastic pool to splosh and cool down, Luna and Claire swim like pros...

 Nobunaga  needed rescuing when it got deeper...
And so began the wonderful holiday at Pension Olive, with delicious food, a giant dog run, a spacious pool and great spa-style bath, and the family all piling up to cuddle (I spread two double bed sheets over the bedspread to keep it clean) for a nap.

Friday, August 15, 2014


 On our first real nice morning walk in the park together again. Yesterday we did a couple of smaller walks to make sure Luna (and Mummy) was well rested and recharged her batteries. In spite of her ordeal Luna is on the go, excitedly dashing up the old familiar paths and smelling those Yokohama sea scents wafting in from the bay.

I think today the fatigue will set in after the adrenalin, so maybe no long blogging, but thank you so much, everyone, for all the support, prayers, searching, posters, and loving messages. I am just so overjoyed to be home with our special baby.