Memorial for Meiko…..

23 Apr

 

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Meiko at 10 weeks

 

We all love our animals and it was no different with Meiko. She was actually the first kitty I had ever owned. Being a dog owner all my life, I had always thought that cats were rather standoffish and wouldn’t make for great companions. Boy was I wrong!

Meiko’s story began on the Island of Okinawa, Japan. My friend David was over there on a three year contract, and I had made visits about every 6 months starting in 2004. You know me….never miss an opportunity to travel, especially if you have a friend and a place to stay at the other end.

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Loved to drink from the fountain

David had made friends with many of the island strays and had taken one in. Sadly that one had died and by the time I made my first visit in 2004, he was thinking about adopting another friend. One day we went over to Caring Kennels on the American Military Base and there we found THE ONE waiting for us….he was a one year old Chinchilla Persian  we named KUMO. He was gorgeous…I guess I should say Handsome….green eyes and long soft white hair like the kitties in the Toilet Paper Commercials. He was a laid back kind of guy.

On my second visit in the spring of 2005, we visited a night market in Chatan. There we encountered this very tiny black kitten hanging out among the wooden stalls. She looked so small and vulnerable, my heart broke. There were people all over the place, so at first we thought, she belonged to someone and had just wandered off from the rest of her litter.

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Samantha in my suitcase and wanting to come with me in 2005

David was going to take her home, but then decided the mother might miss her. Four days later, during the daytime, we returned to the site of the market. We looked through all the empty stalls and there she was, curled up with 2 brown dogs. Well as you might guess….by evening she was happily ensconced in a new home and with a new friend to cuddle…. Kumo. David called her Samantha. She must have been about 7 weeks old. She was so tiny and was black with white makings. We decided to make her birth date, February 14th, as that seemed about right.

 

David was to make an appointment to have her spayed some time after I had returned home. When he took her to the vet, they discovered she was pregnant and the decision was made to let her have her kittens. September 21, 2005, Meiko and her 2 brothers were born, assisted into the world by Dr. David.

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Feeding time for the kittens and Mom Samantha

 

 

 

 

I first saw them in November when I made my 3rd trip. Mom and kittens were staying with a friend who had a golden retriever. David had met me in Osaka, he had been home to the states for a visit, and our overseas flights would arrive at the same time. We had decided to visit Kyoto and Nara before going on to the island, another 2.5 hour flight south.

On arrival,  we drove directly to Tim’s place to pick the kittens. My first recollection of them was four balls of fur racing out of the room where they had been sleeping with the Golden Retriever……Mom Samantha, who was black with white markings, and the kittens…2 black with white chins and 1 white with black makings and spectacular green eyes. I named the girl Meiko, the boys we couldn’t decide on names and because of their white makings, called them Milk Lips and Milk Chin. They never did get real names and were eventually called Milip and Milchin. IMG_20160420_103735

Of course I fell in love with them all and by the time I was to return home, it was the Christmas Season, and Air Canada did not allow animals to travel.  I still didn’t know if I wanted the responsibility of a cat and I didn’t know what Daisy would think about a new mate…..but I didn’t have a decision to make, the chosen one couldn’t come with me anyways.

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Samantha and Meiko

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Meiko enjoying her final days in the Okinawan sun and heat!

Spring 2006 rolled around and I was making my final trip to Japan. David was returning to the States by the fall. This trip, I knew I would have to make a decision. And so it happened…..after a visit to the vet to get her shots, and a stop at the Government Office to get an Export Permit, Meiko was packed into her crate for the long journey to her new home in Canada. Mom, brothers and Aunty Moneypenny would eventually join David in Brigham’s Cove, Maine.

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Samantha, a Brother and Moneypenny making sure the crate was OK for Meiko!

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Time to go……..

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Airport in Naha, Okinawa, Japan….heading to Edmonton

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I had laid out a yellow sweater on the bed, one that I would wear on the plane. Returned to the room for the final check of stuff before leaving. Picked up the sweater….it was wet.someone had peed on it!!!!! Who it was I will never know…..but obviously someone was not happy. I quickly rinsed it out and stuffed it in a plastic bags in the outside pocket of my luggage. Meiko was stuffed into her crate, one final farewell to the remaining animals and we were off…..

At the airport, we were advised that my AC flight from Osaka to Vancouver might be delayed but that we should proceed anyways. Once we landed in Osaka, the whole story came out. My plane which leaves Vancouver for Osaka and then returns, had had mechanical trouble and was back in Vancouver. They didn’t even know when it would  arrive, it hadn’t left…but I knew it was about a 10 hour flight..and I was going to have a very long day in an airport with all my luggage and a 9 month old kitty in a crate.

 

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I was prepared..litter box, food and water for Meiko. I piled IMG_20160420_103812luggage and kitty on a trolley and set of in search of coffee. Now that is another thing most of you know about me….I live on coffee. As I had been in this airport many times, I knew where to find a quiet spot. Tried several times during the day in the handicapped washroom to let Meiko out and have food and water. She was having none of it…..“You packed me in here and I will get out when I hit my new home in Edmonton!”.….

Eventually after about 11 hours in the airport , we were told that our flight home was ready to board…at last the rest of the journey could begin. Japanese ground staff are very good. Meiko’s crate had a safety net put around it and the agent personally took her to the flight. 10 hours later, we arrived in Vancouver. I quickly cleared customs but had to report to Agriculture Canada to have Meiko and her documentation inspected. To my surprise, the agent never even looked at her on the trolley, gave all the paperwork a cursory glance, stamped it and said…“You’re good to go”…I was off to meet my friend Judy for coffee as I had a bit of a wait for the Edmonton flight.

It was only when I went to go back through security, that I encountered problems. They wanted me to remove the cat from the travel crate so they could x-ray it. Now this cat hadn’t been out of the crate for nearly 25 hours and she wasn’t about to come out now in the midst of the herd of people lined up in security. Got into a tiff with the security staff…the ones I detest most and have had more negative than positive experiences over the years of my Asian travels……and said..“You find me a room with a door and I will take her out”...Give me a break, I know they have many small offices for all kinds of searching, but she was trying her best to be MOST UNHELPFUL….YES….this is what VANCOUVER International Airport is prized for….but eventually I WON and she took me to a small office and said I could go in the corner and remove the cat!!! Finally made it to the Boarding Gate and Meiko was taken to the Cargo area.

We arrived at the  Edmonton International after nearly 30 hours in transit…..and as I looked around, saw one lone crate waiting for me  in the Cargo area. Meiko had made it and I hoped, was still alive in there. Well she was and I could breath. Our journey was over and a new chapter was beginning for both of us…..little did I know then, that 10 years later her Mom Samantha would be making her own journey to Edmonton..but that will be a story for another time.

Princess Meiko was a gift to us for 10 wonderful years….every dog and person in the neighbourhood knew her. They called her the Japanese Cat! Notice…. I didn’t mention any cats as her Friends……NO……none of those were allowed in her Royal Court!  We will miss you……

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Samantha and Meiko in the Princess Bed!

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Memorial for Meiko….. | A Genealogist goes Wandering - April 23, 2016

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