Monday, June 19, 2017


Setter mamas just can't resist that wispy hair, I see wispy, the moment you're near! I'm too wispy, and too much in love!...
Six years ago now, after the Fukushima Disaster and Tohoku earthquake, there was TV footage of all the dogs that had lost their homes and owners, and I wanted to help. Unfortunately the first rescue organization I called was prejudiced against "foreigners" and refused to let me care for a golden retriever or other large dog when I offered. My first rescue setter, Sofie, was therefore from friendly Dog Shelter Tokyo. She wasn't an earthquake rescue per se, but I figured adopting her would open up space in the rescue to help other disaster dogs...and I had fallen in love!

Sofie had been abandoned by her owner in the empty house after he did a moonlight bunk to escape creditors, and was only found after a week by police who responded to neighbors complaining about the incessant barking. She and I fell in love with a passion that was wholly reciprocated and totally exclusive of all others. It was a complete and devastating shock to learn from my vet that both her kidneys had outsize inoperable tumors and her bladder walls were like the Dolomite mountain range with bladder stones, and that instead of the heartworm meds and vaccinations I had intended, she was terminal and would be a hospice caring. 

Oh but she lived life 200%! We went everywhere together, being away from her was gut wrenching, heart-wrenching, impossible...and so the trauma of being alone in the house was circumvented by the bliss of joyous, glorious, loving togetherness. She and I were so in sync, she had such an infectious passion for life, and in the last few days, when she could no longer walk, we would just sit in the garden feeling the breeze and the grass, and being together. When she passed I felt a small piece of my soul go with her...
...and so Claire came into our lives...and I began to blog, this being part of the conditions of a rescue from Gundog Rescue CACI. Sofie was a jealous wee soul, but Claire, a veteran hunter, was focused on a male partner, and Sofie relented...
Nevertheless, for me, creating a special bond with Claire where there was none before was vital. What has helped Claire and me trust and bond so deeply has been our weekly experience of basic obedience training, a new skill for both of us, both of us newbies together, students together with a warm and friendly trainer. Without taking the time to train together, using treats and positive reinforcement, learning about each other's body language, me learning to minimalize verbal noise,  to watch her signals, we would not have the wonderful sister relationship we do now. It feels so good to have her seasoned stable presence in the house holding things together. Wispy beauty with balanced strength, Claire is a dog in a million. I am truly blessed to have her in my life!
Photos by Lelantos

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