Good morning! After a year and a half in limbo, my ESA, Edmund, is finally with me in Japan. I could very easily write a long and complainy post about how difficult it is to find a place to live in this country when you’re both a) a foreigner, and b) own a dog larger than 5kgs. But dwelling on that bullshit isn’t a worthwhile use of my time.
Instead, I’m going to take you on a morning in our lives! A very indulgent blog post, I know.
I’ve found that routines are really important for my mental health – especially after the complete bullshit that was 2020. But I also found it extremely hard to stick to those routines; so much so that I ended up having to ask my parents to call me every morning to make sure I got out of bed. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t. There was a significant lack of accountability, as well as just… a lack of meaning. There has been a lot of ‘why bother’ going through my mind for the last year and a half.
For dogs, routines are desperately necessary. And Ed can be a real bitch if his routine is disrupted. As an ESA, one of Ed’s jobs is to keep me accountable. Planning my days ahead of time and getting plenty of exercise is just the tip of the iceberg of what Ed helps me with. Our night routine is more about decompression and mellowing my heart-rate with deep pressure therapy, but the mornings are all about getting the heart-rate up – both for me and for the wild beast.
Around 5:30-6am, I wake up to the dulcet sounds of my wild beast whimpering in his bedroom. He wants to play. He knows the sun is rising.
I built Ed a bedroom when I realised that the apartment I’d found has a walk-in wardrobe, using some baby gates I ordered from Amazon*. It’s easily big enough for me to still keep my clothes in, but it also makes a lovely space for Ed to chill out and decompress when I’m not around. In NL, he had a crate. He’s a bit bigger now, though, so I wanted something where he could stretch and roll as he likes.
When Ed wakes me up, I have to change quickly into some athleisure so I can take him for his morning walk.
In Japan, it’s common for dog walkers to carry a water bottle with them so that if their dog pees on a building they can wash it off. So now I wear a fanny pack in public. Never thought that would happen.
Ed and I walk together for about an hour. Ed’s a high-energy dog. If he gets bored, he gets destructive, and that usually leads to skirting boards getting eaten (I’m not kidding; in NL he would routinely rip the floorboards up in my apartment and then shit splinters later in the day).
Our morning walks are meandering. Ed sniffs and snuffles as much as he likes, because we live in a 35sqm apartment and I don’t have the heart to try and stop him from enjoying himself.
There is one structured thing we do every morning without fail: we practice emergency stops. My apartment is near a freeway and we have to walk near the main road to get to the grassy park where Ed likes to play. I can’t risk him doing something stupid and getting run over. We practice stopping and waiting at every red light. My boy has gotten very good at patiently waiting for my signal to keep walking!**
Of course, the fact that he is able to wander to his heart’s content for an hour or so does leave me with a very dirty dog by the end of our walk…
For one thing, he loves to roll in grass–
For another, he’s never met standing water that he didn’t want to lay in–
There’s also a river nearby that recedes into a sandy little island that he absolutely ADORES playing on.
And of course, we must stop for a drink at the park on our way back. There’s a kappa statue near the river that usually has a wildflower or two in their hands. If they don’t have one, I’ll add one. Seems like the thing to do.
Needless to say, when we finally get back to the apartment, Ed needs to be rinsed off in the shower before I let him anywhere near my furniture. Like I said: it’s a 35sqm flat. Basically a studio. The smell of pond and wet dog will get into everything if I’m not vigilant about this.
Around 7-7:30am, Ed and I both have our breakfast. His breakfast is usually a mix of wet and dry dog food, as well as a dental chew. Mine is cornflakes, a banana, and a matcha latte because I’m a basic bitch. Ed takes his meals in his bedroom, then he usually chills out on the couch while I study Japanese and listen to D&D podcasts.
Finally, at about 9am, I put my textbooks away and we go upstairs to do Ed’s favourite thing: fetch!
My apartment building has a dog run on the roof. It was one of the main selling points for this place. Ed loves it, because he gets to go off leash and run around as much as he pleases, and I love it because there’s ample space for me to kick a soccer ball for him. For the last year and a half, Ed was living with my parents in Australia and they taught him how to return a ball – though he prefers to toss the ball at you rather than actually bring it back. It’s very cute.
Once Ed is fully tired out, it’s time for me to start my work for the day. If I don’t give him plenty of attention in those first few hours, I’ll pay for it for the rest of the day with him scratching my knees and pulling on my skirt to demand playtime. Tiring Ed out in the morning gives me about 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time on the computer.
There we have it: a very indulgent blog post about a morning in our lives! I hope you enjoyed the puppy content!! Ed’s got an instagram if you’d like to see more of it.
Like I said before, getting plenty of exercise and externalising accountability is part of Ed’s job. He keeps me happy just by virtue of his goofy personality, but he also keeps me physically active – super important for people with depressive disorders. Our evening therapies are catered more to relieving anxiety, though, so that’s a little different***. Either way, keeping a routine with him helps a lot with my mental health, and I’ve missed him terribly over the last year and a half. So, so glad to have this little shit back in my apartment.
PS – I love writing and I love eating! If you want to help with the latter (and ONLY if you want) you can maybe buy me a coffee? 🙂
* F*** Jeff Bezos and his monopoly
** Don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a bit of a proud mama
*** Major depressive disorder + generalised anxiety disorder = a fun, wholesome time.