Bringing Hope and Healing to Japan! – “J-HOPE” in Akita City

  • 2024-04-23
  • 2024-04-23
  • NEWS
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Wishing to bring hope and healing to Japan through Akita dogs, Mrs. Miwa Fuse, a cram school English teacher in Iijima, Akita City, welcomed an Akita dog, J-HOPE (also known as Jay, a two-year-old female), into her family. J-HOPE appears twice a month at the Akita Dog Fureai Dokoro (a place to meet Akita dogs) in Oga “Ogare” Roadside Station in Oga City, Akita.

“J-HOPE” was named with the wish “Hope for Japan” in mind.

J-HOPE refers to the “hope” and healing Mrs. Fuse wants to bring to Japan. It is also the name of a member of the popular South Korean music group BTS, of whom she is a fan, and one of the letters is Mrs. Fuse’s former respected teacher’s initial.

On March 10, Jay appeared at the Akita Dog Fureai Dokoro exhibit. When she posed with only her face poking out from the bars of the fence, visitors smiled and took pictures of her, saying, “She’s so cute” and “Her tail is so fluffy.” Mrs. Fuse said, “She seems to be good at this pose. Maybe she knows that everyone will be happy to see her.”

Jay peeking through the bars of a fence in Oga City on March 10.

In addition to the Fureai (friendly) place, when cruise ships dock at Akita Port, Mrs. Fuse, and Jay sometimes welcome tourists who are disembarking from their vessels and enjoying exchanges with them.

On one occasion, while strolling in Senshu Park, a foreign man gestured and asked if he could take a picture of Jay. When Mrs. Fuse replied in English that it was okay, the man posed as if he didn’t understand. Perhaps sensing something in the sequence of events, Jay gently kissed the man’s ear. She said the man was tearful and happy with the interaction with Jay.

Mrs. Fuse has always been a dog lover, and her family had dogs since she was a child. She had a particular fondness for Akita dogs, which she said, “gives me an indescribable feeling of healing,” but her husband is not a dog person. So, instead of keeping a dog at home, she visited various places in the prefecture to check on events and get to know Akita dogs.

In February 2022, Mrs. Fuse learned through social media that a puppy had been born at a kennel in Noshiro City and requested a visit. Even though she did not intend to keep the puppy, Mrs. Fuse thought she might want one once she saw it. Her eldest daughter (28) and second daughter (25) accompanied her to make sure she thoroughly considered keeping a dog.

Of the five puppies Mrs. Fuse was shown, her eyes met with one the kennel had not yet assigned to a foster home. At that moment, Mrs. Fuse felt like she was being asked to take the puppy with her, so she called her husband on the spot to ask for permission to keep it. Before she knew it, her two daughters had become overjoyed with seeing the puppies and joined their mom’s excitement. They sent their father a picture of Jay they had just taken. Her husband, moved by her enthusiasm, said, “You’ve already decided to keep him, haven’t you?” Unexpectedly, the “okay” came quickly.

Mrs. Fuse’s husband supposedly didn’t like dogs, but when Jay came back with his family and saw how adorable she was, he smiled and said, “Welcome!” Jay is now the most significant source of comfort for the whole family. Mrs. Fuse’s second daughter, who lives in Yamagata Prefecture away from her parents, also comes home about once a month to see Jay.

Mrs. Fuse said, “Jay has given me a lot of healing.”

On the other hand, the family needs help with training Jay. From the time she was about six months old, when she saw cars or other dogs on walks, she became afraid and started biting Mrs. Fuse. Troubled, she first consulted a dog trainer in Akita City.

When Mrs. Fuse was informed that she was not ready to own an Akita dog, she reaffirmed the importance of training. Nevertheless, she thought that a punitive approach would frighten Jay and lead to a vicious cycle that would also exhaust her.

After gathering information from books and the Internet, Mrs. Fuse decided to receive training from a trainer outside of Akita Prefecture, who introduced “positive reinforcement training.” As Jay followed the instructions, her expression became brighter, and there were signs that her chewing habit was diminishing.

Now that Mrs. Fuse’s children are out of the picture, she is in her second child-rearing period. She said, “I can go for walks and cook for Jay daily. I hope we can continue to go to various places together and bring healing to many people.”

>Where Dogs Connect Akita and the World

Where Dogs Connect Akita and the World

Akita Inu (dogs), with their fluffy coat, round eyes, and an adorable tail that curls up, are now famous worldwide. Akita dogs have a strong body and are best known for their loyal personality. The number of Akita dogs raised overseas continues to increase. In Akita Prefecture, the Akita dog's birthplace, there is an active movement to utilize them for tourism promotion. Akita Sakigake Shimpo, entitled "Akitainu News," will circulate various domestic and international information about Akita dogs. The goal is to connect the world and Akita through Akita dogs.