This book is a nonfiction version of 2009 picture book Dogs Come to My Hospital. St.Luke’s International Hospital is the first medical institution in Japan which allowed therapy dogs to visit the pediatric ward where many children receive treatment for cancer, and they have an extensive team approach to ensure children’s quality of life even at the end of their lives. The book follows four brave children and their families for nine years and shows how their experiences at St. Luke’s have affected them.
This book is an updated version of 1999 book Dogs Gave Me the Strength to Live. The author has followed Prison Pet Partnership at Washington Corrections Center for Women since then and decided to present the new stories with their latest development. In this program, inmates not only rescue dogs from local animal shelters, and train them to be family pets or service dogs, but also take care of unwanted cats. The inmates are given an opportunity to give something back to society, and the dogs and cats which were once abandoned by humans are given another chance to live. In that process, they teach inmates — who not only harm others but who are also profoundly hurt — to trust again.
Japan’s first animal program in a prison started in 2009 at the Shimane Asahi Rehabilitation Program Center, located in a small farming community in Western Japan.
There, the inmates raise guide dog puppies until they reach 1 year of age. When the inmates fulfill their responsibilities and send their puppies safely back to the training school, they gain a great sense of accomplishment rather than suffer the sadness of saying goodbye. The program also offers them an opportunity to give back to society, as well as giving them something precious to care for. I’ve been involved with this program as a consultant for many years, and am very proud of their progress.
Iwanami Shoten Publishers, 2015 Yen 840 (Japanese and Korean)
I want to be gentle – Stories of Children at Forget Me Not Farm
Forget Me Not Farm in Sonoma County, California is a haven where children and animals can bond and break the cycle of abuse. It is located on the grounds of the Sonoma Humane Society, and offers animal-assisted and horticultural therapy for young victims of abuse and neglect. Many of the animals at the farm have been rescued from abusive situations themselves. So caring for those animals empowers the children to help them find the compassion that is within them. It’s a wonderful program that I recommend everyone learn about. This book is written for children.
Iwasaki Publishing Co., Ltd., 2012 Yen 1,300 (Japanese)
This is the true story of a cat who was abandoned in the evacuation zone after the explosion of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Kitty, the cat, narrates the story of what happened to the people and animals in the nuclear disaster zone. I adopted Kitty in January of 2012, six months after he was rescued from the contamination zone. Since then I’ve made several trips into the nuclear no-go zone, accompanied by both animal rescue volunteers and by my cat’s original family, and I’ve photographed the world hidden inside the zone. I saw life thriving in nature without the presence of humans, and I saw lives lost due to human activities. The Fukushima disaster raises many questions about our proper role on Earth.
Girls Who Raise Service Dogs – The Dog Program That Opens Hardened Hearts
At-risk teenage girls at a juvenile facility in California participate in a service dog training program which gives them invaluable life lessons. They learn to be patient, responsible and compassionate through caring for the dogs they train. In return, the dogs give them the kind of unconditional love which helps open their hardened hearts, and helps establish their self-esteem.
Kodansha Ltd., Publishers, 2012 Yen 1,300 (Japanese)
In the summer of 2007 I met two puppies in Bosnia and Herzegovina who were being trained to become mine detection dogs. After they completed their training I followed them to Cambodia, where they were sent to work in the mine fields. This is a four-year documentary for young people about the work of those mine detection dogs, and about the Cambodian people’s effort to demine and restore their war-torn land, and ultimately, to reclaim their country.
Kodansha Ltd., Publishers, 2011 Yen 580 (Japanese)
Dogs can bring so much joy to children, especially when those children are hospitalized for long periods due to serious illnesses such as cancer. St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo is one of just a few hospitals in Japan that accepts therapy dog visits. The visits began after the death of a girl whose last wish was to be visited by a dog. By portraying the loving interaction between the dogs and the children, I wanted to show that animals can enhance the childrens’ quality of life, as well as help develop their resilience in the face of their difficult circumstances.
Iwasaki Publishing Co., Ltd., 2009 Yen 1,800 (Japanese)
There are many types of working dogs in our society, all of which help us live better lives. But while guide dogs, service dogs, and search and rescue dogs may be familiar to most people, the work of mine detection dogs may not. What kind of dogs become mine detection dogs? How are they trained? How do they actually find mines? In this book, I’ll take the young audience to Bosnia and Herzegovina where puppies are born and trained and to the mine field of Cambodia where mine detection dogs work. My hope is that more children will be touched by these amazing dogs, and begin to take a greater interest in the issue of land mines.
Kodansha Ltd., Publishers, 2009 Yen 1,600 (Japanese)
The main purposes of the work of a child life specialist are to act as an advocate for children in medical facilities, and to help them cope with the stress, pain and anxiety of treatment or hospitalization. This book describes the work of child life specialists through the story of the friendship between Fendi, a five-year old girl with left heart syndrome, and Erin, a child life specialist in Miami Children’s Hospital. The book takes the audience through the difficult journey that Fendi had to take — from her heart surgery through her recovery — and how she managed that journey with the help of Erin. While child life specialists are placed in more than 400 hospitals, clinics and hospices in the United States, only 13 child life specialists exist in Japan. I’m hoping that this book will make a small contribution toward introducing and promoting the concept of child life, which would greatly enhance the quality of life for children in medical settings.