By the time we stopped at a convenience store 2 hours later the smell was gone. Not gone gone, we had just become accustomed to it and had probably absorbed a lot of it! Like garlic it was probably going to be coming out our pores for a few days afterwards. A quick leg stretch and inside with us to join the other volunteers from other groups from other prefectures in the line for the toilets. This convenience store was the last stop shop before the expressway and business had never been better. We parked outside for 30 minutes to walk the dogs, eat our food and confuse our sat. nav. lady.
When we had pulled into the parking area there was an older man with his two dogs just hanging out. After we had dealt with nature's wishes we approached them with Pitan. Yup, she wasn't a dog's dog she simply said "oh" and turned and walked away. Taro was curious, slightly assertive but passed the encounter with flying colours. It turned out this man was the father of one of the ladies working in the shop. We swopped dog stories and then nature's call resounded in the dogs' ears so we humans wished each other luck whilst the fourleggeder at the end of my leash set his sights on the far end of the lot. When the staff of the store weren't too busy, the daughter came out, took her break and shared a bag of chicken nuggets with her Dad and the dogs. Dad passed along our story and she came over to talk and say hi. There were no customers in the shop so the other staff member came out too. A staffless convenience store...
We talked for a little bit, they petted the dogs and then Taro, mid petting session, did what he had done before except this time I didn't have the benefit of daylight and I missed the signals. The lady was thankfully fast enough and it turned the conversation into "whoaaaaaaaaa that was lucky!! did you see that? wow! No, no I'm fine, all ok, promise" We Gomen nasai-ed (apologised) as much as was humanly possible before they made their retreat back to the safe zone behind the cash register. Obviously the universe's cue to hit the road!! We were packing everyone back up and making sure they were all watered, wee-ed and secure in the back when one of the shop ladies approached with two cups of piping hot coffee as a "help" for our drive back to Sendai. So she had nearly lost a right arm to one of our charges and yet here she was gifting us coffee? These folks can certainly teach you a thing or two about humanity!!
Ok Taro that is a score of almost two, you sort of need to give us a bigger window when you are planning that.A fairly uneventful long drive back to Sendai saw us pull in after midnight. Everyone was tired it had been a long day. We unloaded the car and set everyone up inside the house. This is when Pitan decided to start up her bark-a-thon.We tried all the tricks in the book and just when we thought we had cracked it she would start up again. From pee time, to more walks to draping the cage with a towel to being in the same room with her all worked well for the initial 10 seconds. We broke down and gave her more treats and if she is getting one Taro needs to get one too. Treat went in, both dogs were calm, next to fill up their water bowls and bed. Tiffany put the water bowl in Taro's cage and bammm Taro left his signature on her arm.
I'm in awe of Tiffany, she didn't even curse! I most certainly would have been a motormouth at the universe in the same situation. We cleaned, washed and disinfected. Tiffany assured me she had had worse and this was a walk in the park. I wasn't so sure and kept proffering more sanitizer, disinfectant, salve, bandages and anything remotely medical.It was close to 1am nowhere would be open. We'd deal with it on the morrow.
She was right, in the light of day things didn't look as angry as they had before. A trip to the drug store and she was sorted out.Taro on the other hand had a little secret that he didn't let us in on. Something he hid away under his matted fur that hadn't seen a brush in a very long time. His coat was a dust laden grey where it should have been snow white, it was dense where it should have been smooth and dull when it should have been sleek and shiny.
Taro's elderly Dad similarly to Pitan's , had been taken to hospital. Taro had always been kind of nippy but Mum knew how to deal with his idiosyncrasies. But Mum needed to attend to Dad and all the turmoil that came with having a natural disaster on her doorstep.She asked her adult children if they could keep Taro for the time being. One agreed. Taro was kept in the garden on a chain and treated gingerly. Then, by the looks of things, not treated much at all. It is easy to get haughty-taughty about this, but this family had also suffered their losses in the destructive tsunami. They were granting their Mum a huge favour. Taro unfortunately didn't win any friends in all his changing, unfamiliar, uncomfortable circumstances and it was finally decided that this 7 year old should be relinquished to the pound. In Japan, owner turn ins, 9 times out of 10, means only one thing. Taro would be meeting his maker.
Enter JEARS, and sure you know what we did. Amn't I after telling you?:-) I didn't tell you his secret though, I didn't know it at the time we picked him up, nobody did.I'll let you google it because it and its images make your skin crawl with the hebegeebees: Blowfly.Taro must have had a cut somewhere and that cut wasn't tended to. It most likely would have been hard to find in his thick tufty coat. It is not known how the original skin break happened but the blowfly took advantage of it. Slowly and steadfastly they made their advances on Taro's body invisible under the cover of his hair.The fact that he still had a twinkle in his eye through what these guys were doing to him was a testimony to the fortitude of animals.Taro had their eggs and maggots everywhere and for emphasis I'll say EVERYWHERE again so you get the picture. He must have been in an unbelievable amount of pain and by rights he should not have been letting anybody within 10ft of him. But he craved the petting and the tickles and it was presumably those brushes with the sore points that triggered his outbursts.
Taro is not the first and definitely won't be the last to come to us with pre-existing conditions. These animals have been through and survived more than most of us at the other end of the newsreel can imagine. My heart goes out to them and it is what keeps me returning.