Monday, July 31, 2017

Trans Offspring

Nobunaga flattened by the heat, getting as much of his body on the cool wood parquet as possible and knowing the day is a dazy passing of the hours with no walkies.
Flattened, molded by expectations...he's lucky he's able to fit in the parameters of what is expected in a perfect household pet, able to contain parts of his natural hunting drive and personal canine inclinations, willing to adapt to survive on the meagre scraps of a protected existence. 
I know what it's like to survive, flattened by another's secret, protected by the mold of normality and nursing the hidden pain of forced separation and distress...the natural flow of love and delight prohibited in service of mandatory training to be normal, to see normal, to embrace normal...even when normal is the source of the issue, there's no escape for a child. And so I have learned to do normal, and live cramped with secrets, bound in by the weight of the knowledge that is even now not mine to share. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Blood Sweat and Tears

As Sherlock sits patiently and quietly to attention for his food, here in my world all is calm and well...meanwhile one of my friends has experience volunteering in clean-up crews at dog hoarding situations, and they were kind enough to talk to me a little bit about what it's like. It's not easy, for sure.
I took a day off work to help out with an urgent cleanup of a dog hoarding situation posted on social media: dogs to be rescued, neutered and the location cleaned. I’ve helped out with hoarding situations before, but this time the sheer numbers took me by surprise….

I got the necessary gear together: wellies, rubber gloves, face mask, rain-wear combo, cap, 2 shovels, towels and a change of clothes. The weather forecast said cloudy with intermittent rain, temperatures around 27 degrees centigrade. At least it wasn’t the glaring summer sun…

When I got there, the dogs had all been carried out of the house, so it looked pretty derelict: the only difference was the crud covering the floor. Foul air, cobwebs on the ceiling, holes in the wall, cockroaches and other insects crawling around, vile stench in the humidity and heat: nobody said a word. Just to think of the dogs and their owner stuck in this, living in this. Nothing but a deep sense of pity welled up, nothing more, nothing less. One thing I’ve learned from volunteering over the years is that no matter how bad it is, if you want to help make things better, you just have to knuckle down and get on with it, meet the challenge head on.

My job is not to pass judgement here, just to break up the rock-hard excrement covering the floor, bag it up and carry it out. Shallow places it was 15cm deep, some parts there was a 40cm deep felted crud of trodden turd mixed with dog hair, so dried and hardened even a shovel wouldn’t go in: I ended up breaking the sod with a Japanese hoe (a cross between a pick-axe and a shovel).

Swinging it high only broke in 5cm deep: if I swung harder it got stuck in the crud and I’d get winded quickly, but if I held back it would take days…and then there was the trash stuck in the crap: magazines, plastic bottles, empty cans, plates, pots, even a folding chair and a toilet seat…the bags of dog food were the worst, the feces somehow didn’t dry so well around and pulling them out there was this mud-sucking feel and completely revolting smell wafting up. Some of the other volunteers ended up throwing up…

Wearing rain-gear with all this hard work in the humidity and summer heat gets really dangerous, with heatstroke a constant threat. We were all taking care of each other, double-checking faces and gestures for signs of fatigue, encouraging each other to take a break and drink: there was a natural flow of working together, supportive and unanimous. “Here, let me take over,” another female volunteer said as I stopped to catch my breath. She encouraged me to take a break, picking up the hoe. I had been worried about not finishing on time, but we got into the swing of things as time went on and established a smooth working pace by the afternoon. Everyone was exhausted. Flushed with exertion. Bathed in sweat. I was covered in excrement. One step short of heatstroke. …

We did our best to clean the place up. Nevertheless, knowing that some dogs were going back to live in what were still rather unsanitary conditions left me with an unspeakable sense of helplessness and a keen awareness of the limits of my declining physical strength - it was a hard day.
Sherlock meanwhile has earned his bowl of konbu soup with radish, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, yam and kibble...Mummy will be picking up poops in the garden tomorrow...dogs are worth the work, all sentient beings are worth the loving and caring. Spread the love as best you can!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Affirmation with English Setters

"I claim my home. I claim my body. I claim my space. I allow myself to exist. I call myself into this moment. This body. This place. Tenderly. Forcefully. Decidedly....
I build home out of each act of self-love I commit. I build home each time I stick to the boundaries that I have set for myself. I build home each time I address myself with kindness."
"I make a practice out of speaking to myself in ways that remind me of the power that I do have. I make a practice out of speaking to myself in ways that remind me that I always find the solutions that I seek. I make a practice out of speaking to myself in ways that evoke my agency no matter the environment I am in.”
Thank you, Chani!
Source: Chani Nicholas, 2017

The New Moon in Leo: Affirmation Horoscopes for the Week of July 17th

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cool down and love a setter

Back to excruciating temperatures today, and air-conditioned rooms. Nothing like a wee splosh in the streams to keep the body heat under control...
Yokohama has the parks by the sea shore a half-hour drive away, but in summer we're not allowed on the beach or in the sea with the dogs, even on a makes more sense to take local walks in the green shade, paddling in ponds and streams, and be home by six or seven before it gets really hot...
Claire is saying she wants to get on with hunting, but Nobunaga wants to chill in the stream a while longer...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

English Setter Paddling

On the way to Kuraki Park we pop by the Noh theatre to cool down a bit before the last leg of tarmac...My setter babies have been waiting patiently all morning for me to take them walkies. 
Thanks to a huge volunteer effort yesterday the hoarding situation in Edogawa ward has been addressed. Pictures show the story: vets neutering in a makeshift operating theatre while volunteers clean ears and trim paws of dogs while they are still under anaesthetic. The cleaning crew was digging into a 30cm layer of solid turd, laying fresh board over the floor once it was clean. Turns out there were 85 dogs in all...
Just think, 85 way is the owner able to see the beauty of each of his dogs, to savor those glances, understand those intimate moments of communication, the kaleidoscope of personality playing out before the discerning eye.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Setter Color Vs. Sepia

Some days the world is radiant and full of color...but today it is rainy and grey...
English setters snooze after a long early morning walk ...Mummy should be working...Sherlock doing lion impersonations...
...tomorrow the world will be sunny and colorful again...for sure...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Positive Rehabilitation for Dogs from Hoarding: Japan Perspectives

Gundog Rescue CACI have a lot of experience with rescuing dogs from hoarding situations here in Japan...over the past years: From July 2012 they have helped save a group of 30 odd huskies hoarded by a retiring breeder, followed by a group of 8 setters from a hoard in Fukushima, and most recently in July 2016 a hoarded group of 15 large pointers, some of which are still being retrained by CACI and looking for a furever home even as I type. And now this year the collaboration on the 70+ beagle mixes...

It's not just heroic CEO Rie Kaneko negotiating sensitively with a very particular type of owner to have the dogs handed over and neutered; the all volunteer clean-up crews are intense, shoveling through multi-layered dirt-dried feces, scrubbing floors and encrusted cages so that neutered dogs return to a somewhat more sanitary environment before they can be ultimately rescued: it's happening Wednesday 26th 10am in Edogawa Ward if you want to volunteer: fill out the Alma Tokyo Tierheim form or contact CACI. Wear a mask, bring rubber gloves and be prepared to throw away your clothes and shoes afterwards.

The third stage of solving a hoarding situation is the mental care and re-homing of the dogs. The long-term commitment and financial burden can bankrupt an NGO...please donate to CACI : Mitsui Sumitomo Bank. 
口座名:三番瀬の犬達基金 (Account Name: Sanbanse No Inutachi Kikin)
 支店名:亀戸支店(店番:254) (Branch No.254)
 普通預金口座番号:2050095 (Account No. 2050095) 
They were already short of funds to renew the lease on the shelter property before this 70+ beagle mix hoarding situation cropped up. 

Since Lady Claire was rehabilitated at the CACI shelter before adoption, both my setter babies have come straight from the pound, so fostering a hoarding dog is going to be a first for me. They need sensitive loving support to help with the PTSD: a positive, gentle and patient retraining experience is a must. I've found some very helpful US sites, in particular a step-by-step hoarding-specific resource at Best Friends and a longer behavioral insights article at BARk magazine. Having got this far, it's time for lunch...more soon!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hoarding Dogs: Japan, US, Germany, Australia

Currently my English setter rescue Gundog Rescue CACI is collaborating with Alma Tokyo Tierheim to rescue some 70 odd beagle mixes in dire conditions from a hoarding in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo. 
The rescue of dogs from hoarding situations is not restricted to Japan...according to an August 2014 Independent article, this mental health problem is not yet widely documented or studied globally. 
Up to 2,000 new cases are estimated to appear every year in the US. And this is likely to be an underestimate, because...only very severe cases are identified.
I confirmed it's still a burning issue in the US: a June 12th 2017 Fox News article reports on mental health counselling in the case of 170 Yorkshire Terrier mixes rescued from an elderly (male 72; female 62) hoarding couple in San Diego: 
As part of their plea agreement, the defendants won’t face additional custody, but will have to undergo counseling, will not be allowed to own any pets and will transfer title of a 31-foot motorhome to the Humane Society as restitution in the case. 
And it happens in Europe: Statistics from the German Animal Welfare Federation Du und das Tier Magazine February 2017 article labelled Animal Hoarding: Love of animals out of control reports 117 cases over 3 years from 2012 with 9,000 animal victims, which may be the tip of the iceberg.
Alleine vom Jahr 2012 bis September 2015 registrierte der Deutsche Tierschutzbund 117 Animal-Hoarding-Fälle, in denen rund 9.000 Tiere betroffen waren. Die Dunkelziffer liegt weitaus höher.
Both this German article, which reports on a hoarding rescue of 155 dogs (originating from a pack of 20 dogs rescued from laboratory testing in Spain), and an Australian associated press article from January 25th 2017 show that dog hoarding is a recurring problem: 
A NSW woman who kept 43 cats and 31dogs in "the worst hoarder conditions" an RSPCA officer had ever encountered has been sentenced to one month in jail... Hicks had previously been convicted of 83 animal cruelty charges in Queensland in 2008, said the RSPCA. (my italics)
German national daily Welt mentions the relapse-prone repetitive nature of animal hoarding in a 2014 article in its Psychology and Mental Health section.  
A glance at Wikipedia on Animal Hoarding confirms that there seems to be a strong mental health component here, and that offenders are relapsing, as was the case here in Japan with the Edogawa Ward 70 beagle mix hoarding rescue currently in progress.

In other words, to help hoarding humans stop from a mental health perspective, mandatory psychological and therapeutic counselling seems called for. At the same time consistent and persistent long-term follow-up by the authorities seems to be particularly important, even the key, to combat repeat hoarding offences. The above examples mention that owners are loath to let people in to the home, and loath to give up all the animals...potentially creating a repetitive loop in a never-ending cycle of abuse. All animals from a hoarding must be neutered even if the owner wishes to keep one or two. Meanwhile the costs of spaying and rescuing so many dogs is prohibitive: owners should be billed in some way if they are at all financially able.

There's a wonderful article by Jessica Hekman in Bark magazine on how to help the it now, or else I'll talk about it at a later date here in the blog, perhaps in tandem with my new foster Beagle mix when she arrives. 
Mindblowing. It has to stop!

Summer hunting

It's a hard life for a cicada in the metropolis...first there's the cats, then there's crows, and in the garden, there's a couple of English setters hunting for a snack...
...Claire and Sherlock are happily delving into the underbrush to find a tasty bite, scrunching with great gusto on empty husks if the bugs themselves have flown.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hoarding foster: Help!

Sherlock may soon have to act like a big brother: there's been a horrific rebound hoarding case in Tokyo with 70 dogs living in the most vile and unsanitary conditions in a private breeder's house. Gundog Rescue CACI is collaborating with another rescue to pull the mainly beagle mixes, and they have to be rescued speedily as none of them are spayed or neutered...I've offered to foster a wee girl just to help out with the numbers and move her out of the situation, so keep your eyes peeled for more info here, and if you're a Yokohama\Tokyo local and want a wee beagle cutie, this is your chance! Once she's been rescued she'll be spayed, de-wormed and get her first set of jags, so it'll be a week or so before she and info soon!
Dogs from severe hoarding have to be rehabilitated before they can be re-homed with a family. According to a 2016The BARk article by Dr. Karen London :
Dogs from hoarding situations were more fearful and more sensitive to touch than the control dogs. They showed more behavior associated with attachment, attention-seeking and separation anxiety. They exhibited a greater frequency of urination and defecation when left alone, destructive chewing, submissive urination and repetitive behaviors.
Dogs rescued from hoarding situations were less trainable and less aggressive. They were less likely than the control dogs to be overly excitable or energetic. They had a lower probability of being persistent barkers, of chasing small animals, or of exhibiting rivalry for resources with other dogs. 
I'm hoping we'll be able to nurse the sweetie back to health and happiness, teach them about walkies and leash, heel, sit and come, general house behavior and peewees rules, and find a good understanding furever family...This time a foster failure is not on the cards, I'm a setter Mama pure and simple, but I'm willing to lend a hand in times of need. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Freshly washed setter

Poor old Claire was wriggling upended on the carpet, writhing and cavorting around last night which I thought was very funny, only when I brushed her out this morning after walkies, I discovered those telltale little black dots in her fur: shock horrors, flea poopies! My natural approach lemon eucalyptus essential oil spray apparently only goes so far!
Off to the shower we go, first Claire, then Sherlock, and I changed all the towels on the settee for good measure, hoovered bedding, washing the kilim rug and orange floor blanket as I type...with this intense heat and sunshine, fortunately it should all dry by nightfall. 
I don't have the time to do all this, I've got grading on my plate...yikes! But fleas cannot wait, they're exponential. It's worth it so see my babies' clean contentment as they dry off, drowsy fluffy setters. Nobunaga has had a dose of Frontline, I can wash him in a couple of days...
Thinking about exponential, or a stitch in time saves nine mentality, economists talk about the hyperbolic discount rate, where stitching now is too much bother: people discount future satisfaction, choosing lazy happiness now, the future being too far away...Economists see this motivational tendency, to take the easy way out, the delight now, as particularly prevalent in the poor...
"The right wing formula- defending freedom of choice at the front end, combined with massive punishments at the back end- thus amounts in practice to little more than kicking people after they're down. The left-wing formula of education, social work, and other "talking cures" feels less coercive, but in practice tends simply to make people more aware of how badly they are screwing up. What people with highly exaggerated discount functions need is a restructuring of incentives, in order to facilitate more effective strategies of self-control."
Source:Joseph Heath (2009) Economics without Illusions. Broadway Books p.270
We all procrastinate though, in our own ways and at different times... vicariously experiencing contentment through my setter babies is such a satisfying way to motivate myself to get on with it now! do the job! and snuggle on the couch with them later.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Morning setter, evening setter

 "Getting stuck in a particular way of understanding the world - whatever it is - is the cause of three major human diseases...The first one is seriousness....If you decide that you want do something, fine, but getting serious about it will only blind you and get in your way.
Being right, or certain, is the second disease. Certainty is where people stop thinking and stop noticing. Any time you feel absolutely certain of something, that's a sure sign that you have missed something....The third disease is importance, and self-importance is the worst of all...Importance is a great way to justify being mean and destructive, or doing anything else that's unpleasant enough to need justification...
 "Years ago some people figured out that you could suck creepy gooey black liquid out of the ground and burn it in lamps. Then they figured out how to burn it in a big steel box and roll it all over the place. You can even burn it in the end of a tube and send the tube to the moon. But that doesn't mean there aren't other ways to do those things..."
Source: Richard Bandler (1985) Using your Brain for a Change Real People Press

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cha-cha Queen

Went for my first dance class after a six month hiatus at Dance Zone Murakami with my beloved Kent-sensei and had a fantastic time choosing music, getting back into the feel and taking home a renewed awareness of my body and core...the cha-cha beat should get me back in shape...physically and mentally! I was getting guilty about leaving the dogs and exercising myself, but a renewed interest in dancing in the kitchen is not to be sneered at. Nobunaga particularly likes the music, and maybe I can get Sherlock interested in the moves.
I was very fortunate to get a hand-me-down black and pink fringe dress which fits me perfectly. I've been adding extra Swarovski crystals for even more sparkle and it helps me get in the mood! Sherlock is sporting the accessories which I probably won't be using, the black net shoulder hugging neckline is perfect without the distraction. Handing down and reusing clothes, rescuing dogs, that's the way it should be: waste not, want not!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Power of Three

When Sherlock first came, the onset of walkies, the merest hint would set him barking in a mad frenzy. Looking over past training, I started a sit from the kitchen, walking backwards to the door keeping me in between, and whenever he got into a mad dash or started barking, we'd go back to the kitchen and start again, all the time with clicker and treats, of course. 
A year has passed, and the mundane bustle of Mummy has become just bearable: the rustle of coats, the proximity to the door, the scraping of shoes, the going back to the kitchen to fill the treat pouch, the popping upstairs for my mobile, back to the kitchen again for water or poopie bags, finding the shoehorn...Sherlock has learned to wait quietly, darting around a bit back to the sofa to start again and relieve tension in between, before calming down and remembering what he's supposed to do, sit quietly at the step and wait. He's becoming a loving, composed dog as each experience of success at self-control deepens his confidence.
 Now these doorstep protocols seem finally ingrained in his psyche, the next hurdle is the garden gate: he'll still make a mad dash down the stairwell, hollering blue murder at the bottom, jumping and cavorting like a mad dervish alerting the whole neighborhood he's off on a walkies. Infamous dog! 
But once we're out in the street, all is fine, he's as quiet as a mouse enjoying the sniffing, passing the pee wee baton, and scavenging (no, not poopies, arghhhh! Mummie's turn to screech like a banshee!). Nothing better than a relaxed walkies together, each day a different local path and direction to keep things varied and interesting.
We've got to the point where Mummy can drop the leash and the three sweeties will do a sit stay of sorts as I back off for a photo. That's such a wonderful feeling, no need to tie them up or fear they'll run off into the blue, the delicious scent of fish wafting around keeps the doggies happy while I fiddle with the camera-I just keep forgetting I've turned it off in between pictures, so I'm the only one to ever see some truly beautiful English setter poses! Rescues rule, hooray for the power of three.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Serious Setters: Rescue Funding

Hey there, CACI Gundog Rescue needs some serious funding to renew the shelter premises in autumn. If you can donate directly, please do! 
  • 三井住友銀行>
  •  口座名:三番瀬の犬達基金
  •  支店名:亀戸支店(店番:254)
  •  普通預金口座番号:2050095

They're also having a charity auction  for the next two weeks in Facebook, so join the group and start bidding if shopping for UK pointer and setter doggie goods is your preference.
So what do CACI do? They rescue abandoned pointers and setters from death in the pound in the Kanto area, (Chiba being ranked highest for abandoned gundogs in Japan), have them vetted and retrain them for life as pets, matching them up to families very carefully to make sure they have a happy and fulfilled life. 
At the CACI shelter in Chiba, the dogs are walked morning and evening, their cages kept clean and blankets washed (once they are safe not to eat their blankets), their kibble and meds personalized. All done by volunteers! Once the interview procedure and papers are all finalized, they even deliver these beautiful setters, pointers or brittany spaniels to your door!
CACI`s mission is to push for legislation introducing mandatory micro-chipping of hunting dogs, so that the owners cannot just walk away from a dog, abandoning them in the mountains, as happens so often now here in Japan with setters and pointers when the hunting season ends.
So please donate generously! They really need your help with the lease-renewal and rent to continue saving gundog lives through 2018! Thank you from Lady Claire, Samurai Nobunaga and Sherlock Holmes, and all the other beautiful bird dogs CACI can save with your help.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Power of Treats

 Fortunately Yokohama has a sea breeze to offset the muggy heat clamping down on everything. Monday mornings is a busy time: collect the poopies and take out the trash, including garden clippings. After a late (and therefore rather hot) walkies, I popped out into the garden with some treats to take pictures. The weeds grow apace and mosquitoes love the shady damp, so we didn't last long! Nobunaga is not really into it, hot after the walk, but Claire particularly is used to things and will do a beautiful sit stay. 
 Sherlock only has a vague concept of sit stay, so I'm slowly backing away leaning slightly forward to indicate I want them to stay put, my finger out holding a small piece of dried cod for reward. With the other hand I'm juggling the camera with the long lens and somehow managing to snap that wonderful smile...a split second later, and Sherlock is jumping forward after me to get the fish...good boy!Good girl!