Following on the previous book titled Sourumeito (Soulmates), author Seishū Hase offers up a second volume of seven short stories about dogs and their human masters: “Toy Poodle,” “Mix,” “Labrador Retriever,” “Basset Hound,” “Flat-Coated Retriever,” “French Bulldog,” and “Bernese Mountain Dog.” Tying this group of stories together is Akira Jin, the head of an organization dedicated to rescuing dogs abandoned by their owners. Displaying an encyclopedic knowledge of dogs in general as well as of the differences among individual breeds and their preferred environments, he plays a Cupid-like role in bringing the animals together with new owners and/or helping them develop healthy relationships.
In the sixth story, Tōru Kaneda’s business has failed and his wife has divorced him and taken his son. With nothing but an old company car and a dwindling sum of money to his name, he heads for the foothills of Mt. Fuji intending to kill himself. There he comes upon a French bulldog that has apparently been abandoned by her owner. He gives her some food, and she immediately takes to him. Kaneda sets aside his suicide plans and decides he will take the dog with him and go to his long-estranged mother, now living alone, to ask for her help and see about moving in with her. In the mountains on the way there, however, a heavy snowstorm brings him to a halt, and the dog disappears.
Smashing the last bottle he has and swearing he’ll never drink again, the alcoholic Kaneda prays for the dog’s return. It is Akira Jin who finds the dog and delivers her back to him. He tells Kaneda that since he picked up the dog in the wild, she must be given a proper health examination and tested for heartworm and viruses. He presses him to decide whether he wants to keep her himself, or turn her over to the rescue group Jin runs, in effect testing him to see if he has the commitment to return the dog’s unconditional love. When Kaneda says he’d like Jin’s group to take the dog, Jin lends him ¥50,000 and tells him to take the dog to the vet the next day. The story comes to a close when Kaneda eventually reaches his mother’s home and sends a note to Jin that the dog is healthy—enclosing ¥50,000 to repay the loan.
Although it is the master who must first teach a dog how to behave, once the animal forms a bond with its master, it is the human who has more to learn. And when a beloved dog the owner has devoted heart and soul to dies, it is only natural to seek another dog on which to bestow one’s love. The volume is filled with the wise counsel of a canine lover who has seen many dogs through to their end.