Saturday, May 14, 2011

Water lines

I'm standing up.The waterline is visible above shelves just below ceiling on the inside of this house. It stayed like that for an hour when the waters rose.
Front garden. Water line across the windows.
Water lines.They are everywhere. In the majority of photos I took of people with backdrops, there they are, lurking discretely on walls, fences, trees,windows and even trucks that some how managed to become immovable.A silent yet glaring reminder that there was water here. Here, where there shouldn't have been.
     Belle is an 11 year old arthritic German Shepherd. When we met, she was basking in the sun, but with one eye vigilantly observing the red cross volunteers set up station across from her. We approached cautiously hoping to catch her owners at home to see if they were alright for pet supplies. Belle, the ever watchful guard dog, brought the other eye out of resting and observed our approach with all the aplomb of a queen regarding her subjects. "Yessssssssss! what can I do for you?"  her weary eyes relayed. We edged slowly closer. Belle's regal demeanour was shattered as she awkwardly found her feet to do the guard dog thing she had spent so many years perfecting.  We proffered hands for her to sniff and let her know we had love to share. We passed the smell test and she plonked herself back down on the futon in front of her hand made kennel. A kennel that remarkably had withstood the torrents of water the tsunami had brought inland.

As with many dogs in Japan, Belle's owners had her tethered. A very unfamiliar sight to me when I first came 16 years ago. One I am still not 100% comfortable with seeing today. My furbies have the run of the house (see earlier recliner mention!) and would only be tied to something if under anaesthesia at the vet clinic!  If an animal is to be tied out then a longer chain/rope would appease my sensibilities more.But that is just me. I am not a one to preach or change a country's habit. Some topics you can raise in conversation but need to be aware that things won't change over night.Obviously I believe my way is right or I wouldn't mention it but equally the tether-ers believe their way is correct too. Especially when it appears in advice sheets from city hall that citizens whose dogs are tied out should keep the chain/rope short so as not to bother passers-by.

 Belle was used to her tethered life and luckily for her her people had the foresight to disobey city hall guidelines. She had an ample supply of rope and had she been a spring chicken she probably would have been able to bound across the street to greet the treat laden volunteers.But in her silver years her body had taken on a stooped stance and she shuffled when she moved. She had no external injuries just a few healed over old dog bumps and hairless patches on her elbows from the hard ground. Normal wear and tear for a dog of her years.The aches and pains of ageing clearly laid heavily on her joints when she moved which is why her tsunami story caught us off guard.

Chez Belle
She had, as always, been tied to her kennel when the first waves came in. Her kennel floor doesn't touch the ground so she would have been able to get inside for a while to dry her feet. But when the larger waves started to flow there was no keeping dry. There was also no escape. The leash buckle held fast to her collar. When the waters got deeper and she couldn't touch the ground any more she'd have been swimming against the onslaught of seawater. If you have seen any tsunami videos you'll know what a fierce current this flow of water created.Yet there was arthritic 11 year old Belle swimming for her life against it. When the flow abated the water stayed high for over an hour according to the neighbours who "evacuated" to the second floor of their homes. Belle also found refuge on the 'second floor of her home'. Except.... her second floor was well below the water line and well, as you know she was still attached at the neck. So for one hour, this old dame clung to life as death had a near vice grip on her collar.With odds stacked against her, she survived.

I didn't meet her before the events of March 11th and I wouldn't have met her if it weren't for March 11th.Yet her story of resilience and the innate desire to stay on this side of the pearly gates will stick with me.Her shelter still stands and she has two futons to sleep on, one on the sunny side, one in the shade. She is still tethered, I still don't like the idea. But had she not been she most definitely would not have survived.Cheers Belle! May you have many more years in front of you and may all of them be tsunami free!

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