I believe this experience happened on the same day as my "Not Just a Bottle of Tea" story in my first part of "12 Days in Tohoku".
Susan Roberts from Japan Cat Network (JCN) and I (Toby) were driving around Kashima town (near Minami Soma in Fukushima) looking for clues and information about the cow we were looking for. We then came upon the above older woman (early 70's maybe) walking her dog*(seen behind her in the picture). We stopped the car and, first, asked her about the cow. She gave us her version of what is happening with the cows in the area and we added that to the other information we were getting. We then asked her about the dog and she mentioned it was hers and she was taking it for a walk. We then started talking about the other wild dogs in the area. She mentioned that many are from the evacuation centers where owners couldn't feed them anymore so they set them free to fend for themselves. She said it was breaking her heart so she was going to as many evacuation centers as possible and giving them food, walking their dogs for them and looking for other options of what they could do with their dogs than just let them into the wild where they will, more than likely, die. We gave her many fliers about JEARS and that we are able to assist both dogs that are running stray, as well as pets that are still at the evacuation centers and need temporary shelter (no matter how long it may take) until the owners can get back to some kind of "normal" life and care for their pets again. She said she'd distribute them for us to the local evacuation centers.
She then told us about a dog tied up nearby at a house that she was concerned about so we went there (and that is where we took the above picture). The dog was healthy, happy to see us and had new food in it's dish so the woman above, as well as us, were relieved to see that someone was taking care of it.
We left food for her dog and for her to take to the evacuation centers. We said that we'd be visiting them soon, as well. We thanked her for all she was doing and parted with tears in our eyes. Women like this and couples like The Sato's, are the real heroes here. Even when their worlds are turned upside down, they are still out there doing something for the animals that need assistance. As I said in a previous post, this woman reminded me a lot of my own mother and how I believe she would've been doing the exact same thing if put into the same situation. The only bad thing about all this is that hugging isn't a cultural thing in Japan because I just wanted to walk up to this woman and give her a HUGE hug!! Instead, I bowed deeply, expressed my appreciation with tears in my eyes and reemphasized that JEARS is here to help if needed.
*Note: You're probably noticing that I was approaching people that had animals to ask questions. It's very, very difficult to explain and I'll try in a subsequent post (I think I'm just about ready to talk about my experience in Yamada-shi), but talking to just anybody in these disaster struck areas is/was very difficult. However, we felt we could approach people with animals for we were confident they would understand why we were there and what we were trying to do. We could also offer these people with animals food or pet snacks as we usually had a lot of stock inside the vehicle. It's not that others wouldn't understand, but most had.....other things on their mind and we really didn't want to upset their lives any more than they already had been. Again, this is very hard to explain so I'll try again soon.