Saturday, July 25, 2009

Call of the Wild at Hinuma

Hinuma Yacht Harbor has an interesting canine character.

Readers in other countries are probably not aware of the fact that communities in Japan have a loudspeaker (PA) system which is used to make important announcements (such as an approaching typhoon, an elderly person with Alzheimers who goes missing, traffic safety concerns, local fires, etc.). The system is also used daily to play a tune at morning, noon, and evening to remind people to go to work/school, take a lunch break, or come home from the fields for dinner - kind a community alarm clock. The times vary a little. In our area, during summer, the morning "bells" are at 6:45 am, the lunch time chime is at 11:45 am, and evening tune at 5:45 pm. The tunes played also vary from town to town, from Big Ben's chimes to traditional Japanese children's melodies.

We stayed late at the lake a while back and heard the evening tune ~ it is the Largo (Going Home) from Dvorak's New World Symphony, though many readers may better recognize it as the tune to Garrison Keillor's "Lake Wobegon School Hymn" on A Prairie Home Companion.

Anyway, the lunch chime is the tune "Green Sleeves" and we were surprised when we first heard it to also hear a dog howling like a wolf while it was being played. Later, we noticed a medium sized white dog wandering about yacht harbor and so inquired about her.

The dog is named Chuta. She came with her mother a long time ago. Her mother subsequently died. While trying to put her on a leash, Chuta bit Mr. Hakuta (who built and owns the harbor) so severely that he required stitches in his arm. The Hakuta's have fed her and cared for her, and for eight years she was on a leash. But Chuta never really accepted captivity. She escaped the leash and has never been recaptured.

Recently, at the veterinarian's suggestion, the Hakutas have tried putting a sedative in her food, but so far she has managed to avoid swallowing it. The concern is that if she is ever picked up by the "dog catcher" and does not have a collar, she could be put down.

Nowadays, Chuta can be seen around Hinuma Yacht Harbor and heard howling when ever the local PA system is used.

She's a nice enough dog who shows no hostility (unless her "space" in encroached upon), and will even wander to within a few meters of humans, such as when K and I have been sipping some cold tea at the picnic tables by the club house, but she'll come no closer.

In simply trying to capture her picture, she barked her displeasure whenever I got within about 4 meters (13.2 feet). Knowing Mr. Hakuta's fate, I was not about to press the issue.

Chuta has made her contract with humans. While most dogs opt for close domestication and allow themselves to be petted and tethered in exchange for care and food, Chuta was born free, still hears the call of the wild and demands that the relationship remain on her terms.

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