ARK News

A letter from Jackson's foster family

January 2, 2009

Tokyo ARK does not have shelter in Tokyo, so we rely on our foster volunteers. The foster volunteers take very good care of ARK’s animals by giving them lots of love just like their family. We really appreciate all of the support and help we get from all the volunteers and supporters.

Recently we received a heart warming letter from Ms. Mia Koh, one of the foster volunteers:

Being a Foster Family

My first experience as a foster family was with two kittens named Duke and Duchess. They were brother and sister and were rescued by a British gentleman from Hong Kong who was in Tokyo on business. He was in the process of coming back to Japan to bring these kittens to Hong Kong. While he was getting all the paperwork done to arrange the trip for them, I took care of them. They stayed with me for about 2 months.
I had a dog before but I never had any experience with cats. Because they were small kittens, I was bit nervous at first, but everyone from ARK was very attentive and helpful with my questions, I soon caught on to how to take care of kittens.
I met their new owner when I handed them over to him so I was able to hear the stories about how they were rescued. When he first brought them to the vet, because his Japanese was not very good, he filled out the vet questionnaire for the karte with his name instead of cats’ names etc. He was telling me how he was very relieved and happy that he found ARK and that he was able to rely on them for assistance. It was very hard to say good bye but I thought to myself that the person who rescued them is coming all the way from Hong Kong, going through all this trouble to bring them with him as a part of his family, I have to say good bye with a smile. He said how they were when they were rescued just engraved such strong emotions in his heart that he just wanted to make sure he will provide a happy life for them.

(Left is quiet Duchess and right is playful Duke)

And about 6 months have passed since the kittens left. For the last 6 months, there were many repeated conversations about how cute Duke and Duchess were and how surprisingly cute cats can be.
I received an email from ARK in mid July about a 9 month old boy kitten named Jackson that needed a foster home. I looked at a photo they sent me and I saw a small kitten sleeping on a person’s stomach.
Because I already had a trip planned, I decided to take him until I had to leave for the trip. When I visited the office of ARK to pick him up, I was welcomed with 2 palm-size tiny kittens bouncing around in a room like two small balls. They were waiting for their foster family to come to care for them. And in the room next to it, there was a dog with a set of such warm brown eyes which reflected loyal nature of him/her. The dog was also in the need of foster family.
“Ah, if I ever hit a big lottery then I can take all the dogs and cats with me that need a loving home, or if I was a celebrity, I could do so much for ARK,” these rather unrealistic wishful thoughts would cross my mind. And there it was, Jackson was sitting all by himself crying.
His nasal infection that was caused by stress made it difficult for him to breathe through his tiny nose. His nose was runny all the time with spots of blood. His eyes would not stop tearing and there was also blood in the discharge from his eyes. His back was shaved by the vet because he was infested with ants and fleas, his skin needed to be cleaned out. ARK staff Ms. Nakano explained about his condition and answered my questions thoroughly to make sure I was ok. Then we headed home.

Jackson cried all day and all night without eating any food or drinking any water. He was not able to sleep for longer than 30 minutes or so, he would jump up awake to cry and cry. It was as something scary was chasing him.
Morning came without much sleep. A thought crossed my tired mind, “is he perhaps suffering from a serious psychological trauma, I am not sure I can handle this situation.” I was disappointed by my own pessimism. I was very startled because this time it was very different from how things were with my previous and first fostering experience. He was crying nonstop throughout 24 hours, I did not know what to do.
“I cannot take care of him myself,” it came out of my mouth. Then there was my mom, “well, he is still a baby. He can’t smell or see things well and he has been moved around in different environments, of course he is emotionally extremely unstable now. There is a reason to his non-stop crying. If you can’t even handle this, then what are you going to do.”
His tiny pink paws had scabs and his nails were cracked and chipped.
Even though he is still a baby, he has been surviving through harsh days.
I felt embarrassed by how pessimistic I was being.

A week has passed since he came to our home.
We brought him to our vet and he was even being a good boy while he got his shot of antibiotics. His tiny nose is still stuffy and he also has conjunctivitis. But with daily medication and eye drops, he is slowly but surely showing improvement every day.
He has started to eat well, and perhaps he feels bit more stable now, he stopped his non-stop crying. Watching his changes and progress over a week, he has become an important member of my family.
We asked ARK if he had anyone was interested in adopting him. They told us the good news that they have not had any applicants yet so I can apply for his adoption!
We also decided to change his name to Aris, the god of war and warriors from ancient Greek mythology. We hope this small cat to grow to become a strong warrior for his life.

I am so very grateful for ARK.
Sometimes scary thoughts crosses my mind, “what would happen to the animals in Japanese society if ARK did not exist?”
ARK is such an important organization in our society, much more than our society gives credit for. I feel that ARK is a priceless valuable organisation for our society. I have learned the importance of the system of foster family.

Animals are so pure that even when they are abandoned, forgotten, abused by humans, they always try their best to live their lives and to survive. And no matter how old the animals may be, they are forever babies inside.
It must be frustrating for ARK staff not being able to give each animal the time and love he/she needs to heal, because they have many animals under their wing.
An individual like myself can volunteer as a foster family to care for animals.
Even if it is temporary, to be able to provide a safe and loving environment for dogs and cats that need it is very rewarding.
Watching those animals also gives such a warm, kind feelings inside. And those small cute things they do made our house full of smiles.
The sight of them sleeping peacefully is very soul cleansing. They are not just cute dolls and there may be tough things to deal with sometimes, but it is because each animal is a life.

I am looking forward to continue volunteering as a foster family as much as I can for those animals in need.

(Aris; aka Jackson)