My family, the Amanos, always have dogs. It was probably when I was one year old and a few months, we started to have a Shiba Inu, which we named Hanako. She was given by my father’s former teacher. Even before I began to understand things, she was beside me. She was small, quiet and kind; she hardly barked. Hanako passed away when I was in the third grade of elementary school. For the first time, I experienced the loss of family member, and felt bitterness and sorrow that I had never gone through before.


Shortly after we lost Hanako, my father brought up the idea of having a new dog. He also grew up in a family that always had cats and dogs when he was young. Maybe he cared for us who couldn’t heal our wounds to lose Hanako, and he had started looking for the next dog to welcome to our home. However, contrary to his consideration, I couldn’t switch my mind enough to feel that I would like to have a new dog. The death of my dog was such a big shock, and that was not easy for nine-year-old me to overcome.


Yet my father didn’t know my real thought and had actually found the one. It was a cream-colored Miniature Dachshund that was still uncommon and there were few in Japan at that time. He got information that a beautiful pedigreed dog, which had won a championship at a conformation show in England, had a few puppies. And that was cream-colored Miniature Dachshund, which was still rare in Japan. He wanted to buy the dog somehow and started communicating with the owner by the help of a staff, who was from the U.S and worked in the International Marketing Department of ADA.


The English lady, however, who owned the dog had got confused and assumed that my father was a breeder and tried to make money with her dog. Therefore no matter how he negotiated, she strongly rejected him that she never gave away her dog.


Meanwhile, unexpected chance came in through other route. It was a letter and picture from a young English man. He was an aquascaper and a big fan of my father, but he had a limited life expectancy due to a fatal disease. He wanted heartthrob Takashi Amano to criticize his aquarium at any price. Being moved by the young man’s feeling and passion, my father immediately wrote his impressions and advice on the aquarium. Then, my father got an idea that this young man might be able to explain about Takashi Amano nicely to the lady.


My father wrote about the situation and asked for his help. Needless to say, the young man agreed readily. Seemed like he explained very well about Takashi Amano’s activities in Japan and Nature Aquarium, in other words, he told the lady that this Japanese guy was trustworthy person. The lady, although it was unwillingly, gave her consent to give the dog.


It was also happy news for me. Initially I couldn’t help but keep thinking of Hanako’s death, thanks to my father’s best effort to welcome new dog to our family by showing us pictures of the cute puppy, I had already started getting excited about seeing it as soon as possible.


The plan seemed finally moving forward. However, another problem occurred. The lady said that she didn’t want to put the dog on the airplane that flew to Niigata airport by way of Osaka airport. She started saying if we choose such flight that transit was necessary, it was out of the question to give the dog. A little puppy rides on an airplane by itself– if we think about it, it should be so much stress and fear. We immediately gave up on the plan, and my father decided to go to Narita International Airport by Shinkansen bullet train to pick up the puppy.


It was late at night when my father came back home from Narita Airport. We all anxiously awaited and welcomed the puppy in our pajamas. The puppy that came to the Amanos was really beautiful dog as we had heard. The little puppy that had been welcomed was shivering and frightened for a while. It was the long and lonely journey from England. She finally arrived, but then she was in a completely different world. Being surrounded by the people whose face and language were strange, everything—smell, character, and atmosphere— was just so alien to her. We named the puppy Kelly. I still can remember clearly everything happened at the night when we welcomed Kelly. At that moment, I decided to give her my deepest affection. What if I was also fostered out to another world, which is far away from my home? I would hope the place is a happy one, whatever it is.


Since Hanako passed away until we received Kelly, I had been thinking about what it was to have living things as a pet. Hanako, that came to our family when I was still a baby, was always simply with us. The death took her from us, and then, for the first time, I gave a thought on her happiness. She only got one life, and she lived it with us. Just like we can’t choose parents, pets can’t choose the owner. What we can do is just showing unilateral love and compassion, and put our imagination to work as much as possible to them.


Kelly was a new family member that my father brought. She came from the distant country with loneliness, but I wanted to make myself feel that she was meant to be a member of our family, with thanking the sincerity and passion of the English man and the connection his Nature Aquarium made.


Kelly departed, and still I cannot help but wonder how her life with us was. What I can recognize is I, at least, felt happy in the every moment when Kelly, also Hanako, were here with me. Now, three dogs; two of Kelly’s puppies and one of her grandpuppy are members of the Amanos. They are running around the garden and having fun everyday.



text & illustration by Sayuri Amano