Even coming from Britain – which is supposed to be a nation of dog lovers – the current fad for all things dog related in Japan has taken me completely by surprise.
It has to be said that doggie clothes of all descriptions and prices have been available for a long time. As have restaurants offering dog menus – compete with mineral water and special dishes. Plus for the truly demented dog lover, wedding services are an extravagant option. I’m not joking either. The dog wedding I witnessed on TV had the full works. Including dog guests, an aisle (of sorts), and a foreign ‘religious man’ to oversee the proceedings.
The latest craze however is renting a dog. For a rather steep 1,575 yen (7.5 pound), you can take your dog of choice (so long as it’s a cute Chihuahua, toy poodle, or miniature dachshund) for an hour’s walk. Puppy the World in Odaiba – one of the shops that offer this service – supplies customers with a leash, some tissues, and a plastic bag should the dog need to do a spot of business along the way.
Now personally, if I was paying that much just to take a dog for a walk, I wouldn’t expect to be cleaning up its excrement too. However the shop’s happy customers don’t seem to mind this one bit. On the contrary in fact, as it all seems like an enjoyable part of the experience. A 25-year-old woman called Akaike saying, “I want to raise a dog in the future, so this is like practicing.”
And for those who want to do some serious practicing, for a hefty 10,500 yen (50 pound), customers can take a dog home for a ‘sleep over’. With the kind people at Puppy the World supplying a day’s pet food, a water dish, and a cage for the animal to sleep in.
If this is all too sickly and sweet for you, I should add that despite shops such as Puppy the World, dog rearing in Japan does have a darker side. Dog fighting is still legal here, and whilst it’s not as popular as it used to be, fights are still held annually. For a bit more information, click on the picture of the cuddly little Tosa below.