Dying is a complicated business. So many loose ends to tie up. There’s a will to be made, a funeral to plan, debts to pay, arrangements to be made for loved ones. No wonder this thing or that tends to get lost in the shuffle. For example, says Shukan Gendai (Jan 5-12), pets. What becomes of them when you’re no longer here to see to their needs?
Kazuo Sakazaki (a pseudonym) died at 74, not knowing the commotion he left behind. “After my mother died,” his son recalls, “father sought solace in pets.” First a dog, then a cat. At his death the dog was 7, the cat 6. What to do with them? The son couldn’t take them – his wife and daughters were allergic to animal fur. His younger sister lived in an apartment building that banned pets. “It led,” says the son, “to a lot of fruitless quarrels between us.”
On the outcome of those quarrels, the magazine is oddly silent. Passing abruptly from the specific to the general, it reflects on the overall situation, which is grim. Nationwide, some 100,000 pets a year are handed over to local health centers, for want of anything better – and 40 percent of these animals end up being put to sleep. This is a shame not only for the pets but for the late pet-owners, who surely would have wanted to do better by the faithful, devoted four-footed companions of their last years. Whether the culprit is forgetfulness, distraction or infirmity, the fact remains: There are few living things more helpless than a pet left behind, unprovided for.
Forewarned is forearmed. To the owner, a pet is a family member. Perhaps he or she expects relatives and friends to feel the same. Don’t count on it. One person’s beloved pet is someone else’s damned nuisance. If a personal arrangement can be made with someone close to you, so much the better. If not, consider impersonal – that is to say, contractual – alternatives.
They exist, in increasing numbers to meet a soaring need. One possibility has rather a long history to it – posting a notice at the local animal clinic: “Will anyone take my pet?” A cute picture helps, observes Yoko Yamamoto of the NPO Tokyo Cat Guardian. It’s more likely to attract a would-be “foster parent.” On the other hand, not all pets are cute. Pets too are subject to aging, losing not only their looks but their health, to the point of needing nursing care. What of them?
There actually are “old pet homes” – facilities that see to the special needs of aging animals. Be careful, Shukan Gendai warns. Some are better than others. Low fees can be an attraction; more likely than not a deceptive one. “A pet has to eat,” says Yamamoto. “Feeding it costs several hundred yen a day. Medical care, too, costs money. Best avoid the cheap facilities if you want your pet properly cared for.”
Don’t rely on the net, she advises – “visit the place in person,” and make appropriate financial arrangements. There are trust funds available that cover the contingencies.
It’s never to soon to prepare, the magazine says: “Won’t it be a relief to you to know that your pet is well provided for?”© Japan Today