Treatment of Dogs: revisited

After I wrote my March 13 entry on the treatment of dogs in my neighborhood, I received an email from a friend of mine in Seattle. She had lived in Miyazaki, Japan for about 3 years and had a different observation of how dogs are treated in the country. Here is what she said:

by the way, your most recent entry on the blog about the dogs in Japan ----- maybe you haven't seen much of this because of the area you live, but dogs in Japan have a horrible life. A lot of the city folk seem to take pretty good care of their small breed dogs, but larger dog breeds and those more out in the city (like in miyazaki) spend most of their lives tied up to a very short chain outside on a slab of concrete. And any dogs that are found wandering on the streets are picked up by animal control, held there for only a day or two - and if no one has called them to claim their missing dog they are immediately euthanized (ACTUALLY! I don't think they even use euthanization to kill them - they use a more inhumane method). You would be very shocked to hear the number of unclaimed dogs that are killed every year and when dogs go missing, generally speaking, their owners aren't very motivated to try and find them). A lot of people will also buy a puppy because they are so cute but once they are full grown not give them the type of care they deserve. And the majority of the population (I would wager it's a big majority) doesn't even KNOW that dogs require a good deal of exercise and stimulation in the every day lives.
oh my gosh ---- here I am ranting and going on and on! But this topic in particular with regards to Japan is one I'm very disturbed by. And friend of ours in miyazaki actually spends all of his time trying to help people understand dogs more and what their needs are, and when he sees dogs in a horrible condition he actually goes to the house in the middle of the night, cuts the chain the dog is tied to, and takes him home. It sounds drastic but from what I've seen from living there I consider it "rescue".

In a later email to me, my friend had a little more to say:

you are more than welcome to use my comments on your blog if you'd like. And
it doesn't matter if I'm anonymous or not. I didn't truly learn about the plight of dogs in Japan until after 2 years when I started renting a house outside the city's downtown, was able to observe my neighbors, and start building strong friendships with Japanese people who knew what was going on. and if you think about it, there;s not a whole lot of education going on in society to teach people about environment, animals, social problems, etc. the school system doesn't inform students about anything beyond their standard subjects and parents who were never taught how to care for animals have no way of being able to teach their own children. I feel like to best way for people to learn is word of mouth and "foreigners" teaching in Japan have a great opportunity I think to use their English conversation classes as a great springboard for bringing up topics that Japanese people are either afraid to address or have no forum for doing so. And in the process, they are learning English. Some of my old students have said that there are so many things they wouldn't dare say in Japanese, but if it's spoken in English it somehow gives them more freedom to express their thoughts. Very interesting.

As a language teacher, I was most interested in the last thing she said. I think it reflects a second language "ego" enabling people to assume a different identity with the second language they are speaking. Here is an example of a linguistically aware blogger using the term. What do you think? About the treatment of dogs in Japan? Or about the ability of a second language to give a person an outlet to say things they wouldn't otherwise say in their first language?

Having lived over 8 years in foreign countries, I realize that my perspective at 8 months is far different from what it would be after 3 or more years.
Or living in a country indefinitely. I'm glad to have friends like Valerie who can set me straight. So again I want to qualify my comments in this blog as being temporary observations instead of hard facts or opinions.

Thanks for reading this far. I've got some new ideas planned for this blog in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more details!

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