When you think you’re washed up and have nothing left, remember this little dog’s story. On a freezing winter’s night in Osaka, Japan, an old dog was tossed out his family’s car and dumped on the side of a busy road with nothing but his smelly cushion. Deaf and almost blind, he was confused so he curled up on his cushion and stayed there shivering in the freezing air as traffic roared past him.
People living in Osaka ride bicycles everywhere, so Zak was used to riding at night when suddenly the little dog caught his eye. Stopping, Zak scooped up the dog and his cushion, placed them in his bicycle basket and headed home, then immediately to the emergency 24 hour vet clinic.
The old dog was in terrible condition. Crippled from nails that curled under his feet, he was starving, infested with fleas, legally blind and deaf. Under the clinic lights Zak could see how many clumps of fur were missing, from severe malnutrition.
Because he felt so bad for the little dog no one else cared about, Zak put on his sunglasses to hide his tears. Japanese culture dose not care much for elderly pets, they prefer cute puppies and kittens; there is no status in a old dog. The vet immediately hospitalized the dog, laying him on a heat pad to bring his body temperature up and attached IV drips and medications. At least the little dog was now safe in a veterinarian hospital.
Next day Zak rang all the animal shelter phone numbers in the phone book and every single one said “no”, they were not interested in old dogs. Japan is still learning to accept adopting dogs from shelters, so it is rare anyone will even look at an elderly one. Zak was getting desperate because his apartment complex had a no-pet policy and two days had now gone by.
Zak knew if he took the dog to the council animal facility within a few days the dog would be put in a gas chamber and killed. An international friend of Zak’s suggested Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK). Zak phoned them, even though he’d never heard of them.
The lady on the phone said, “Yes, we will take the dog; ARK never refuses any animal in true need of help.” ARK volunteers drove for almost two hours to meet Zak at the vets, where they collected the elderly sick dog and transported him back to ARK. Zak took more photographs of the dog, hugged him tightly and waved goodbye.
One month later Zak turned up unannounced at ARK to check up on the little dog who had captured his heart. He couldn’t believe his eyes when the little dog came trotting around the corner of the office. He almost didn’t recognize him because he was no longer crippled! He could walk and run and play; still legally blind and deaf, but he was so happy. And he’d put on a lot of weight, grown fur and looked healthy.
Elizabeth Oliver, founder of ARK, followed the little dog and introduced herself to Zak. She introduced Little Zak Jr. to (big) Zak. Zak cuddled little Zak Jr. and was stunned at the transformation. Elizabeth gave Zak a guided tour of ARK, which left him amazed at the good treatment of the animals. Speaking about ARK, Zak said, “So many people walking dogs on leashes…happy and content.”
All of this had a profound affect on Zak. When he really needed an animal shelter for an elderly distressed dog, only ARK opened it’s doors to him so he wanted to do something for ARK, to say thank you.
The man that knelt down and rescued the old dog from the side of the busy road was renowned international director and cinematographer, Zak Baney, also known as Zak B. from DubTone Records. Zak B. invented a new genre of electronic dance music in 1987 Acid Breaks, which swept the world, and he has mixed music for most of the leading recording artists in the world. If you’ve danced in a nightclub since 1987, you have most likely danced to Zak B.’s music.*
He was in Japan to film a movie when the earthquake and tsunami hit, causing production to be halted. Zak decided to stay on for a while, but still flies around the world shooting productions worldwide, including Hollywood. Twelve weeks after the triple disaster, Zak directed and filmed a beautiful short movie in Tohoku, the hardest hit disaster area. The name of the video-movie is Last Message – Zak Baney.
On the day Zak went back to ARK to visit the little dog, before he left ARK’s grounds he decided to make his next movie about the importance of animals in our life. This movie is already underway and when completed it will be submitted to film festivals throughout the world. The inspiration for this movie is Little Zak Jr., who reached out and touched (big) Zak’s heart. Zak’s heart was big enough to feel the little paw of desperation speak to him, and Zak responded immediately, saving this little dog’s life.
Little Zak Jr. will live out his days at ARK and if you visit, he will be there to welcome you too.
I am writing a book about Little Zak Jr. to share his thrilling story from his start in the gutter all the way to having his name in Hollywood lights. It’s the happiest ending ever! In July I am going to Japan to spend a week at ARK with Elizabeth and Little Zak Jr., as well as meet Zak himself.
*Footnote: Zak is also very humble because it was only after I stumbled onto Zak’s music career and asked him about it that he revealed the extent of his involvement in the recording industry.
*All photos provided by Zak B. and used with permission.