Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pippi's Birthday

Today Pippi turns seven. I can vividly recall the October day we got her. Having located an available yellow Lab puppy on line, David went to Kuki, Saitama Prefecture to meet her owner Big Boy Saito (yep, that's his name), a fireman and a part-time dog breeder. Actually, Saito-san's real love is training his dogs, Labs and Border Collies, to compete in fly ball competitions. Anyhow, David came home glowing about Saito-san. And about the puppy too.

The following weekend we went back to Kuki on a family Mystery Trip (a frequent activity when the girls were little). After a lengthy car ride, we drove up to Saito-san's house. Assuming something boring was ahead, Eve refused to exit the car. But having noticed the jumping paraphernalia on the lawn, Abby required little convincing.

Upon entering Saito-san's house, Abby immediately spied the little Lab puppy playing in a wire pen in the entry foyer. She asked me if the puppy had a home. Yes, yours! Needless to say, both girls were thrilled. As we sat in the tatami room filling out various documents, burly Saito-san held our little Pippi in his beefy hands and stroked her fur gently as he said good-bye to her. Very sweet.

We also had a chance to meet Pippi's parents. Her mother, who is a black Lab, is Japanese. Her father, who is yellow, was imported from a well-known British kennel. A fly ball champion, he put on quite a show for us.

In honor of her big day, I have two presents for Pippi: a new squeaky ball (her favorite) and a new telephone-shaped tag with David's cell phone number inscribed on it. But even as we celebrate, I can not help thinking about another dog we met the other night.

While out on our evening expedition, Pippi and I encountered a very adorable, mixed breed and his owner. As the pups sniffed each others' bottoms, the humans launched into "dog chat." Turns out she volunteers at the hokenjo (= public health center) in Chiba Prefecture. Her dog (plus the two others she has at home) was slated to be put to death. His crime? Being born.

Apparently 300,000 dogs are slaughtered each year at facilities like this one in Japan. "This is not euthanasia," explained my new friend. These are healthy dogs that no one wants. Some are the products of accidental pregnancies. Others were purchased as puppies but, having grown up, are not as cute. Plus they require a lot of work. After just a seven day stay, all are subject to a long and painful death by gassing or asphyxiation, if I understood correctly. I am so profoundly saddened by this situation. I can not get those dogs out of my mind.

Instead, I will remember them as I give my dog extra hugs, more ball time, and shower her with even more love and attention.

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