Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Like chalk and cheese

Before starting into this entry I just want to let you know that there were some problems with posting and for some reason my Waterlines post and the Retracing Steps post have landed on the page in the wrong order. So if you didn't read the latter, scroll down a little and you'll meet Dr. Takahashi of Maruko fame.

I teach. I use chalk. I don't like chalk. I prefer whiteboards. My national university only extended its whiteboard budget to a few classrooms on each floor and for some reason each semester, I always seem to land the rooms with the chalkboards. Cheese on the other hand, is a different matter altogether.I love cheese of all shapes, sizes and smells. In fact the more pungent  the better the cheese.Like chalk and cheese, a saying used to demonstrate vast differences; .

 In Retracing Steps I revisited Rikuzentakata. We got a call while there that Ofunato city hall had a dog. Oh Ofunato! city hall of city halls, the grief you put us through last time for poor Maruko. Just the mention of your downtrodden name was enough to make my hair stand on end. Your absolute conviction that rules were never meant to be flexible and the battle you staged to adhere to that principle was still a healing wound in my mind. What kind of mood were you in this time? I steeled myself, I didn't have the valiant Dr. Takahashi this visit. I was apprehensive about having to do Japanese officialdom on behalf of a poor dog when I regularly stumbled over Japanese officialdom for myself. At least I live through the quagmire of my errors, if I slipped up this time a life was lost.With my heart in my mouth I parked our car in front of the city hall.

We met a local lady who was a friend of the Maruko supporting couple. She had several animal people connections, from vets to groomers to folks who just wanted to help out. She led the way, as I was mentally psyching myself up for Battle Royale part II. We had just crossed the threshold when a grey haired man in the city hall's working uniform got out of the elevator. He gasped, beamed and bowed deeply. I remained stone-faced I had a showdown to attend to and I was fired up. I had settled on what I thought was the perfect combination of polite yet firm, Japanese words  for the occasion and by golly I was going to use them. Our leading lady stopped, turned our direction and started the introduction formalities. Wait! What? Ohhhhhhhh! the penny dropped! Officialdom in Japan changes the 1st of April every year. My previous paper pushing nemesis had been transferred and in his place this smiling affable middle aged vet. Someone in my heart started a very loud chorus of Hallelujah, my head told it to be quiet because we weren't finished yet.

We were asked to drive the car around the back to meet our charge, a larger side of medium, rusty, Shiba cross. He was in the cage Maruko had been scared out of her wits in. He on the other hand was quite chilled and seemed to be enjoying the change of scenery. He had been found strolling around the river, no-one around knew him. His posters were posted but to no avail. He was a friendly fellow and took to his leash without any problems. He took us on a short exploratory walk where he conducted his business and then was quite prepared to leave.Except while he was on his walk the vet asked if we had room for a Momma cat and her two still nursing babies.A quick phone call to the shelter where they would possibly go and approval was received. Yes, we had room at the inn for this little family. Some rearranging of vehicle contents was called for and the two cats we already had with us lucked out and got shotgun on the co-pilot's lap for the long journey home.What a huge difference from a few short weeks before. They took our contact information, thanked us profoundly and said they would be in touch when the next case came up.There were 4 officials bowing deeply to the back of our car as we pulled out of the pound.

One more stop before we could hit the "fast" roads. A rendez vous with Romeo and Juliette. Two miniature dachshunds.Their young owner had had their recently built house razed to the ground and her vet was housing her pups in his own house. 8 animals and three humans made the journey to the halfway point of Sendai that day. 4 of the animals for temporary shelter the other 4 looking for forever families.

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