April was an intense month that felt like a year. It was a month of not only struggles and triumphs but also new experiences and friends. I had never gone fishing before, and my wish to do so was granted a few weeks ago. We went on a road trip to Sanda City in the north of Kobe twice in two days, which makes me wonder how on earth I completed my assignments back then.
On the first day, we were driving on a narrow road following a river when we came across a field that, at first glance, struck me as a picnic area. Takashi said it was a private fishing area where you could rent fishing equipment and fish for trout. He exited the car and started talking to an older man who seemed to be the owner of the place.
I waited impatiently in the car, showing no interest in fishing for trout, until … a black shadow came out of nowhere and started circling Takashi while he was chatting with the owner. I looked at the creature carefully and saw it was a dog of a breed I had never seen before! I got a fuzzy feeling in my heart when I looked at this beautiful animal. I call it “love at first sight.”
When we left the parking lot, the dog barked at us in a friendly way as if to say, “Won’t you come back?” I turned to Takashi and said, “We are coming back tomorrow.” And we did!
Meet my new friend: the Kai Ken
When we returned to the fishing place the next day, the dog appeared out of nowhere again and immediately came to me. Tora Dog, or Kai Ken, is a rare breed of dog from Japan. No wonder I had never seen it before! I kneeled and started cuddling the dog for a good ten minutes! Despite being a solid hunter dog, it was calm and friendly. It even stood on its hind legs and hugged me!
My mom used to say, “Animals can tell good people from bad ones and choose their own humans.” So whenever an animal comes to me (or, rather, chooses me), I feel lucky and grateful. I love it when an animal trusts me and lets me pet it. Animals bring me such immense joy, so you can imagine how happy I was to meet this gorgeous new friend.
Being friends with dogs is bliss. Some of my friends are dog owners who would give their everything for their dogs. When I was a kid, I secretly kept a stray dog in the basement and fed it. When my parents discovered what I did, they didn’t get mad. Instead, they were filled with joy and started feeding it, too. The dog disappeared one day and never came back. I still remember that dog dearly.
Takashi is well aware of my love for animals, especially cats and dogs. We visited his uncle once, and I discovered the beagle they kept there. I played with it for two hours, not listening to their conversation. Who needs to listen to people when there are dogs to play with? His extended family members have dogs, but unfortunately, we don’t have any pets ourselves because most apartments in Japan don’t allow them.
My miserable fishing experience
We have already established that I didn’t go to that place for trout fishing. Hearing this might be surprising, but I am glad I failed at it, although I love fish. I felt sorry for the poor fish, and they must have sensed my hesitance because I caught only one trout. So did Takashi. The owner felt bad for us and offered to give us a discount. However, we insisted on paying the total price. Neither of us wanted him to get paid less because of our ineptitude.
“The other customers caught more than ten trout,” he said, baffled. I told him I enjoyed having his dog’s company and couldn’t care less about fishing. We barbecued our two small trout, promising to appreciate them. My new friend never left my side, so when the fish was ready, I shared some with it. The dog wagged its tail and swallowed whatever was left of my poor trout.
I love meeting random people spontaneously to hear their crazy stories. Some people are quirky and have extraordinary stories in their seemingly ordinary lives. The owner was that kind of person. He said he once trapped a hog and kept it as a pet! Then he pitied the poor animal and released it back to nature. I was befuddled by his tale—how many people trap hogs and make them their pets?
It was time to return home, which was a very reluctant departure on my behalf. I hugged my new friend over and over and bid it farewell. Then I saw it in the rearview: It was innocuously looking at our car, wondering if we would ever return. Ahh! Some people, some animals, and some stories are too beautiful to forget! They always leave me with a little heartache so that I will remember them forever.
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