After the Tsunami-12 Questions for a Japanese Dog Trainer

As the news of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami drift out of the headlines, I decided to check in with a Trainer friend in Japan to see how the disaster was impacting her day-to-day life.

I met Yuki Baba 5 years ago when she was volunteering at the San Francisco SPCA Hearing Dog Program where I worked as a trainer.  For the last year and six months Yuki has operated her Dog Training business in Chiba Japan.

1. What were you doing at the time of the earth quake and tsunami?
Having lunch with a dog trainer who works in Kanagawa. We were at a restaurant in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, but we didn’t quite realize that it was that horrible of a disaster.
All the trains stopped, and I was stuck at the Ikebukuro station for 8 hours….I didn’t realize the tsunami had killed so many people until I got home the next day.

If you are not directly affected by tsunami or radiation, try to have similar life as before.
Spend money for yourself or family

2. How did your own dog react?

My dog wasn’t there at the earthquake. Adhi, my dog, a German Shepard, passed a month before the earthquake, within 3 days of her 14th birthday.

3. Did any of your clients suffer?  You mentioned a client going back to see her house that has been destroyed.
None of my clients were affected by tsunami. We are located far from the beach.
One of my clients was going to see her relatives who had lost their house by tsunami.  She was going to have them stay with her for a while. She wanted to see them right away, but due to the shortage of gas, she couldn’t… I hope she has by now.

4. Have you noticed a change in behavior in yourself, your clients or dogs? Has your business been affected? How?

After the earthquake, 2/3 of my clients either cancelled or rescheduled their lessons. I also got a lot fewer calls from new clients.
The dog I mentioned earlier I didn’t get a chance to see. His mom called to cancel, saying he freaked out.

5. I know you are a cyclist and runner. Is it safe for you to do those activities, or are you worried about radiation?

My place is located 200 kilometer (about 124 miles) far from the nuclear power plant. There’s no harm to jog or bike in this area at the moment unless it rains. Rain spreads radiation.

6. Are you taking iodine pills?

7. Do you think Japans ground water will be effected by the disaster.
Yes, but I’m not sure about the degree of the effect.
The government declared tap water wasn’t safe for new-born babies in some areas in Chiba. The effect isn’t as serious as Fukushima of course, but people with babies and infants are really concerned.
My place isn’t near the affected area, and I drink tap water. Coffee shops use tap water as well.

8. Have you considered leaving Japan if the situation got worse?
Where would you go and could you bring your dog?
I don’t think so and it is kind of scary to think some people might think that way….. I heard news that a lot of foreign people rushed to Narita airport.
If a large number of Japanese people leave Japan as well, what would happen to Japanese economy?

9. If a similar disaster happened in California, do you have any advice for us?
If you are not directly affected by tsunami or radiation, try to have a similar life as before.
Spend money for yourself or family
Well, otherwise, how can you help others if needed?
……easy to say, but hard to do.

10. Have you noticed any dog trainers making the disaster work for them. For example I have noticed key words like: survival, disaster, and prepare showing up in google ads about dog training.
I’ve noticed some trainers put “disaster prep course” on their website, but I didn’t realize it was happening in US.
Maybe it would work in US or maybe northern area of Japan. In Kanto (including my area), there are planned blackouts and radiation problems. Some people still live in a shelter due to the tsunami. Majority of people don’t feel like they want to “prepare” at the moment.

11. Has the price of dog food changed?  Any prices gone up or down that impact your business?
Dry food……Haven’t noticed big price change
Gas….went up. Yes it affects my cost to go to clients’ houses.
Vegetables ….went up. It maybe have indirect effect. If people have to spend more on daily basis, they’d probably refrain from something like “taking class” “dog-walking service” etc.
12. Whats your biggest fear?

I got stuck with this question for a while…..I am getting unsure about where to put my priority on at the moment.


collage by Francis Metcalf

Unclear Priorities. Collage by F Metcalf

5 thoughts on “After the Tsunami-12 Questions for a Japanese Dog Trainer

  1. For Yuki: Thank you for telling us more about life in Japan now for a dog trainer. It’s easy to find reliable places to donate money for earthquake/tsunami relief for people in Japan, harder to find out which places to donate for animals are reliable. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Thanks Loriel! I’m super happy to be doing art to illustrate how I feel about the topics in my posts. I’m glad it resonated with you. I was going for a Banksy vibe or actually more like the posters that came with the CRASS albums in the 1980’s. The cold war anarcho-punk ironic vibe.

  2. Just found out that Dr Yamazaki is compiling info on helping animals affected by the earthquake/tsunami in Japan, and Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital ( and UC Davis will both have the info when it’s available.

    I agree about the collage, too–good job!

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