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  • RIP, Yatsufusa

    RIP, Yatsufusa

    Yesterday morning, Naomi texted me the sad news that Yatsufusa, captain of the Monaca Border Guard, had passed away. She and Fujii-san were on the way to the hospital to collect him. I shared the news and tried to explain to our visiting friend, Rob, that our plans to go sightseeing were on hold for a dog funeral. “It’s going to be a kind of a big deal. Everyone loved this dog.”

    Yatsu was my friend; a beagle whose voracious appetite for cat food brought him visiting my house regularly. I knew Yatsu by his bark and would find him running down the road coming here for a snack before going off to chase wild boars. We bought a leash so that I could escort him home. He wasn’t supposed to be running free, but he often did.

    Yatsu used his sweet beagle eyes to beg for food at the table; a look that Fujii-san usually succumbed to, sneaking bits from his plate to the dog. Yatsu was sneaky himself, once in a while taking his share directly from the table when no one was looking. He loved people food even more than cat food.

    Yatsufusa loved to ride in the car and I made plenty of trips with him on my lap in the passenger seat while Fujii-san drove. He sometimes relaxed so much in my lap that he’d fall asleep. Beagles have three modes: eat, run, and sleep.

    Before he died, he’d been in the hospital for almost two weeks suffering organ failure, possibly from heavy metal poisoning acquired in one of his off-road adventures. But despite jaundice and bad test results, he had been eating and walking in the hospital’s yard, and generally still enjoying life. Fujii-san posted video updates every day and we were all hoping he’d be released to come home this weekend.

    So it was a sad shock when Naomi texted.

    Tod, Rob & I finished up breakfast and went out to get flowers. Fujii-san always creates a bier of blossoms over his departed pets. I also packed a snack of cat food in a quickly folded origami box. We arrived at Monaca shortly after they did and helped to set up the bier, then greeted others who came, and spent the day with everyone – 18 people and 5 dogs. Yatsu was never alone.

    At 3, we prepared Yatsu for burial in a specially made box lined with his blue blanket and then laid him to rest in a hole dug by all of the men in attendance – Tod & Rob included. A heartbreaking moment came when Fujii-san laid his hand on Yatsu one final time body to feel for a heartbeat or a breath. But he was truly gone.

    Gone, but living on in our memories. 安らかに。

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