Culinary specialist Natsuko with Kipple, Kuro and Kotetsu
On a day with a clear blue sky after the typhoon, a culinary specialist, Ms.Kuwahara welcomed us with a smile. To spread the word there are so many abandoned dogs and cats in shelters around Japan, she initially started to share on Twitter. This Twitter gained a reputation and turned into a publication called “Pan To Ippiki (Bread and one)” .
She lives with her husband and three other animals, a white dog Kipple, a black cat Kuro and a bicolor cat Kotetsu. When we visited her to have an interview, she kindly shared her life with animals in a gentle voice.
Sad… but stray dogs are still unpopular
― You have 1 dog and 2 cats. Which one of them did you first have?
I had Kipple, a dog first about 9 years ago. I was just about to move into my current house where I can have dogs and looked for a dog through the website called “ITSUDEMO SATOOYA BOSHUCHU (always looking for a family)”
― Is this the website to find forever families for rescued dogs and cats?
Yes. This website is for individuals and groups to find families for dogs and cats that. Kipple is originally from Okinawa as one of the groups in Okinawa uploaded her information on Kanto-area page on the website.
― Did you have any preferences or conditions when you were looking for a dog?
My husband and I don’t have a car so the size of a dog was an issue. It had to be small enough to carry. The other condition was to have one of stray dogs.
― Why did you prefer a stray dog?
Well, I didn’t have a big preference for what I wanted. I had heard that mongrel/mature dogs are unpopular. I had an idea in my mind that I would like to take one less popular. I ended up taking 3 and half months old Kipple though.
― What made you choose Kipple?
She had a special atmosphere that attracted me. She was only 3 and half months old but already looked different to me like an alien somehow. Maybe she is not typical pretty except to me.
― Have you had a dog before?
Yes. I always wanted to have a dog since I was little. I loved dogs and was longing for a life with a dog. Unfortunately my family moved a lot due to my father’s work. I could finally have a dog when I got in a junior high school.
― So Kipple is your second dog. What kind of dog did you have before?
I had a black Shiba. My mother was like “Why don’t you take one from a shelter?” There were not many dogs and cats in shelters unlike today. I was still immature and wanted to have a dog as soon as possible. I took in a dog from a Shiba dog breeder that I could have the fastest. However, my mother’s words have always stayed in me.
Stray cat visitor to the garden
― That’s why you looked for a dog from the website this time. You took Kuro after that?
Kuro was initially a stray cat and started showing off at our garden one day. I was kind of caring about her but we had a cockatiel and Kipple with us. Having a bird and a cat at one place can be difficult so I was giving Kuro some treats whenever she came to visit but keeping some spaces between us.
― I see. I didn’t know Kuro was a stray cat.
I see many stray cats around this neighborhood. Unfortunately, some cats die on a street and I knew it’s sometimes difficult even for stray cats to live outside. So, I rescued her before winter came.
― Did you try look for her owner?
Well, it took more than 4 months for Kuro to get used to me. She was very cautious and wasn’t used to be around people. That situation actually made me give up on looking for her owner. That was 5 years ago, 2010. The vet advised me that she was approximately 10 months old when I rescued her.
― Was she okay with your cockatiel?
After a while, my cockatiel passed away because of old age. Since then, Kuro started wandering room to room.
― How was Kipple when you took Kuro in?
She was very friendly to Kuro. She always liked cats as much as she wants to play with them on streets. At the beginning, she came closer to Kuro to play with but Kuro wan’t ready. She was threatening and hissing. Kipple repeatedly got scratched enough to bleed from the nose. Every time Kuro did that, I had to tell her not to.
Despite Kuro’s offensive behavior, Kipple was still waving her tail. That actually made me feel that I was worrying too much. After a while, Kuro stopped scratching Kipple and gradually got used to each other’s presence.
― Even stray cat and a dog can get along well after a while. You have one more cat, Kotetsu. How did you meet him?
I always wanted to have a kitten but my husband didn’t. One day, one kitten started to appear at his friend’s place. To grab a chance, I told him I want to have it. He was like “ Cat? Cat!? Really? ” and gradually but surprisingly he was changing his mind. I was screaming in my heart like “ YEAAAY!! ” (laughs)
― You met these three without a hitch
Well, there is a story. We were deciding about this kitten. Meanwhile, somebody else took him. I hurried before he changed his mind and looked for some rescued kittens on the website and gave him some choices. Kotetsu came to our place after that.
― It was your strategy. Did you have a reason why you chose a kitten?
Somehow Kipple and Kuro don’t get tamed with my husband so much. I thought it can be because they are female and have their own pace so I thought a male kitten can make a difference. My husband loves Kipple so much and always tries to touch her even when she doesn’t want him to. That’s maybe why she thinks my husband is equal to her. As for Kuro, they are totally independent. Now you know why we chose a male kitten.
― I saw Kotetsu in your second publication ”Pan to Ippiki 2”. He looked very small and fluffy.
He was only a year and half and had only 800g at the time.
― It’s amazing he grew this big…
I KNOW!!! He weighs 7kg now. He was nursed until weaning. He must have good nutrition. Kipple weighs 10kg and people say Kuro is big enough, too.
Kipple is the boss in these three?!
― How would you describe their characteristics?
Kipple and Kuro have their own pace. Before Kuro came, I thought Kipple is more like a cat than a dog. She is independent, doesn’t mind waiting home alone and has her own pace. However, Kuro is such a cat and I realize how different dogs and cats are. Typical image for cats exactly suits for Kuro, whimsy and fawns on only when she wants. Kotetsu isn’t shy at all. He is the male cat we are longing for but he is not a type of cat that fawns on us all the time.
― Do these three play or sleep together?
Well, I see them sitting close by but never sleep together. From my point of view, Kipple is the boss for the youngest Kotetsu.He knows how to treat Kipple. On the other hand, Kuro is equal to Kotetsu. Kuro still gets mad with Kipple so Kotetsu and Kipple seem to get along better. They tag and chase each other.
― Kipple doesn’t seem like a dog that does the chasing. Maybe she’s nervous today.
Oh, it gets very rough. Kotetsu doesn’t do it anymore but used to climb up on pillars in the house. You can tell that these pillars are so tattered.
― Do they have anything they don’t like?
Kipple doesn’t like many things like thunder, rain, taking the shower etc. Basically, she’s easily scared and is usually shivering at the shower and the vet, too. Kotetsu doesn’t like loud sounds. Oh, he comes to jump on our knees but he doesn’t like to be touched. Kuro is not good with humans.
― Seems like Kuro is cautious. Do they have anything they like on the contrary?
Kuro loves cat grass. He can’t stop meowing once I show it and can’t stop eating it. Kipple loves treats. So does Kuro. I have simple healthy treats like gluten free dry chicken tender so that both Kipple and Kuro can eat.
― So they love eating. Bread, too?
Ah!! Yes, they like bread, too.( laughs) They come closer to me every day.
― The photos of bread and Kipple(sometimes with Kotetsu) on your Twitter are showing that the good smell of bread leads them there. Anything else they like?
They all sleep very well. Seems like always looking for a comfy place to chill. They go upstairs for the warmer air during the winter and downstairs for cooler air during the summer.
― Most dogs like taking a walk. How about Kipple?
Hmmm…yes…we go for a walk 3 times a day on a sunny day to stormy day so it’s not like she appreciates it.
― On a stormy day, too?
Well, Kipple doen’t pee in the house so I have to take her out every day. She doesn’t like get wet and I usually get her dressed in a rain coat. You know, she freezes when I put a hood on her head. (laughs)
― I could tell even when we were outside together today that she shows what she wants clearly.
She’s stubborn. She has own pace and seems like she knows where she wants to go. However, she never waves her tail whoever she meets. I think she is just difficult.
Being with them is good enough. Three times a day walk is a piece of cake
― Could you tell me why you choose these names for each animal? Kipple is a rare name.
My husband named Kipple. There is a music album called “Tecky and Kipple” from musician/designer Hajime Tachibana. Our old cockatiel was Tecky. Kipple came to our place after Tecky and just named her Kipple as a buddy.
― When you see people on the street when taking a walk with a dog, they often ask your pet’s name. Does it happen to you, too?
Yes. Usually they hear it wrong and think Ripple, Pipple or whatever. Once they hear about why I named her Kipple, there is always a weird moment going through between us.
― As for Kuro, did you name her because she is black?
Yes. I didn’t think too much about it. I used to call anything Kuro. My first Shiba was Kuro. So was my old black/white rabbit. Even a stray cat that used to come to our garden was Kuro, too. I just like naming Kuro. Current Kuro’s name was my idea.
― The youngest cat Kotetsu has such a Japanese retro name.
We got this name from a Japanese comic book “JYARINKO-CHIE”. The main character in the comic CHIE had a cat Kotetsu that can do calculating to cleaning. He is a super cat and can do anything and even has the heroic legends in cat world. This Kotetsu has the same bicolor pattern on his body with my Kotetsu. My Kotetsu doesn’t have the legend but grew up this big.(laughs)
― Each of the three is different not in names but also characteristics.
That’s right. Just being with them makes me happy. I always wanted to have a life with animals. I feel satisfied that being came true. There are people who think it’s hectic to live three animals but not for me. I love being with them to watching them sleep. 3 times a day walk is nothing to me.
― You live in your dream life. Is there anything you have difficulties with?
If I’m forced to say something difficult, it’s a small thing about Kipple. She stops sleeping and eating with someone else. We knew that happens therefore we can’t go for a trip longer than 2 days. It’s a small thing because my husband and I don’t like travelling anyway. We have never had her with someone else for last 8 years.
To appeal stray dogs and cats, she started her Twitter “Pan To Ippiki ”
― ”Pan To Ippiki” has a good reputation not only on Twitter but also in publication. What made you start this Twitter?
I always wanted to share the word that there are so many rescued dogs and cats in shelters. Unfortunately, especially stray dogs and cats that have mixed breed are usually left behind. You know those stray dogs and cats are still amazing to have.
I started using the Twitter account which I hadn’t used and started sharing on Twitter.
― When did you start uploading the photos of bread and Kipple on Twitter?
It was 4 years ago. Just tried to tweet with just one photo and got some responds. I felt like ”If people like it, why not? It’s not big things to do” so I started uploading photos to entertain followers.
― I’m sure there are many people healed by looking at those photos.
I’m glad if that’s so. I always liked animals, taking photos and eating since I was little. That’s why I think I can do this.
― What are good things about stray dogs and cats?
There is nothing the same from one to another. Of course, I love Japanese dogs like Shiba but for me stray dogs and cats are very natural. They shape or color that way because they wanted to be. Also, they are physically strong, too. Kipple has never been sick before.
― You have been dreaming of this life with animals since your were child. How do you like it so far?
I love it!! I can’t take my eyes off of them. The relationship between the three is just interesting to watch. When I had only Kipple, my love towards her was so much and I even questioned to myself is this love too much? I can’t love her enough as my love is so big. (laughs) Having the three keeps me balanced, too.
― You have deep love to them but it’s not like that you spoil them. From what I saw today, it looked like that you and the three animals comfortably live together. Thank you so much for your time.
DOG’S AND CAT’S PROFILE
Kipple (Dog/Female/Approxiamtely born in 2007)
Kuro (Cat/Female/Approximately bon in 2010)
Kotetsu (Black and White cat/Male/Approximately born in 2013)
Natsuko Kuwahara is a culinary specialist. Throgh her experiences of making sweets and breads in a café restaurants and working in a flour milling company, she started own business mainly providing recipes for many different publications. She also published a several recipe books, “しっとりとふかふか 生地がおいしいパンケーキ”, “かんたん手作りグラノーラとミューズリー” etc. As you can see in the interview, her publications based on her Twitter “パンといっぴき” and “パンといっぴき 2” has been gaining good reputations.
パンといっぴき 2 ¥1,296
Bread and a Dog ¥1,763
interview, edit Tomoko Komiyama
photo Jun Takahashi
translation Chiyoko Kimura