I learned of a very moving story today, which I thought I would share with you. A couple of weeks ago, my school went on a hike around a nearby lake, called Teganuma. It started out being a lot of fun, but in the end was aborted as it started to suddenly rain very heavily, even with thunder and lightening approaching. Unbeknownst to me, another drama had taken place on another stretch of the walk.
Apparently some of the students and teachers had noticed what looked like a lost dog wondering around. Some of the students wanted to try and finds the owner, as did one teacher. Another teacher, however, wanted to straight way call the ‘city pound’- a kind of dog-catcher. The others were very much against this, as the rules here in Japan are usually very strict for such dogs- they can only be kept alive for five days, and within those days only given either to their owner or a registered charity. In fact- and this may shock you- people who have a pet they no longer want to have to look after can give their dogs directly to this group- and after five days… well, like I said… This sad fate befalls over 1,200 dogs and cats every day in Japan.
This particular teacher was shocked and upset by the turn of events, especially in front of the students, who had taken such pity on the dog. She decided to do whatever she could to make things right. As quickly as possible, she went to to the pound, but they said that they could only follow the rules and as she wasn’t a member of the right charity and didn’t live near enough to the pound, they couldn’t let her look after the dog herself. But, seeing as it was the 5-day national holiday of ‘golden week’, a ray of hope appeared. They would extend the time for an additional 5 days- giving her 10 to find the dog’s owner.
So, in the pouring rain, she went back to the various houses near where the dog had been found and put leaflets she had made saying where the dog was in as many homes as possible. Since she had already booked a trip to the west of Japan for the holiday period, this was all she could do for now. The trip was to various sacred shrines and Holy temples in that region, and originally to say prayers for the Japanese Football Team in their upcoming matches. But try as she might, she could not get the fate of the dog out of her mind, and her prayers turned to this subject as well. To make matters worse, she had often taught the children about the importance of being kind to animals- and now they had seen adults treat the animal’s life and comfort so casually- just to make their own lives more easy and comfortable. How could this be?!
Well, God must have heard these prayers and blessed the kind actions involved. On her return, the teacher learned that the next day, the dog’s owner had come to collect him, grateful at the chance of being reunited with his much-loved pet. All is well and the ending here was a happy one. To help make life better for such pets, she is getting involved with a charity devoted to rescuing them and finding them new homes, much as Battersea Dogs Home does in Britain.
I won’t currently say in the interests of privacy, but I am very glad to bestow the second ever Perfect-Futures award, for this outstanding act of courage and kindness. By reaching out to help a fellow-being in distress she changed not only his fate, but also restored the students’ faith in the adult world and it’s ability to do the right thing. This is just the kind of example that they need. Only by reaching out to the needy- whoever and whatever they may be- can we make the future a better, safer place to be. Compassion is the only sane response to another’s suffering- and here we see it’s power to save a pet’s life and make the world a better place.
To see more about efforts made to save the lives of abandoned pets in Japan please visit the Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK) website, here. Interestingly enough, though it is perhaps sad that they need to do so, some unwanted pets here are now being exported to none other than Battersea Dogs home in London, as Japanese dogs are becoming more popular in Britain these days. Fortunately, as dogs become more popular in Japan, so also are their needs as fellow-beings becoming understood, which brings a ray of hope to this whole story.