Dog life in Tokyo
I live in Tokyo. What a wonderful and at the same time strange place on Earth! This weirdness translates into many aspects of the local everyday life – sometimes it is embarrassing, sometimes completely incomprehensible, and sometimes extremely charming. I mean various issues, because in every thematic space you can find here smaller or larger deviations from the so-called European, and even global standard.
Ever since I arrived, I have been “swallowing” various observations very greedily and still can’t get enough. One of the first ones that I would like to focus on now is the Japanese approach to their beloved pets with whom they like to show off. I am thinking of dogs here because they seem to be very important in their lives. Why do I think so? The answer is simple – I have never noticed such a sophisticated approach to these animals anywhere.
Personally, I think it is not easy having a pooch in such a large and overpopulated city. It is worth noting that, in total, it is a challenge for both the owner and his pet. There are many reasons. Basic – buying / selling of these sensitive creatures, lack of adequate space for the daily dog run, the chronic lack of time suffered by a large part of the Japanese nation, and finally the endearing, but perhaps too human, approach of the owners to their pets.
Buying / selling a dog in Japan
In Tokyo, it is no problem to go to the grocery store and buy a puppy like bread in a grocery store. Shaggy, spotted or “muscle” – you choose like between rye bread, wheat bread, or the one on honey. Exactly the same, hassle-free availability, only that dogs differ from bread in that they are alive, they are sweet, but usually they cost a lot here.
On the one hand, their start in life in a shop cage made of plexiglass is not so tragic – they give them drink, eat, it is warm, safe and clean. But what does all this mean when, right after being separated from the mother, the contact of this animal with man is of paramount importance and urgent? I saw them “cry” and pathetically scratching the glass each time they saw someone. There is sadness in their eyes, but also a puppy-like hope that someone will eventually adopt them.
Space or rather the lack of it
And when it finally comes down to it, it’s not like you just get a dog in Tokyo. Because when it finally happens, the Japanese family grows. You know, then there is a frenzy! I don’t know whose bigger – the pet or the owner? In this never-ending enthusiasm mixed, as for me, with strangely understood care, we would always like to take a walk together somewhere. Somewhere, but you don’t know where? Well, because here and with a dog? The short answer is – it’s hard!
Tokyo’s green space for dog’s romping, playing and other things does not exist. It’s all about an area for a runway, so that the dog can simply romp around.
On the streets of Tokyo, a dog is unlikely to defecate – such needs, as befits a good “citizen”, are taken care of at home. However, if something happens in public, it is impossible for it to remain in this public space even for a moment. Someone would say – what a novelty, they have been cleaning up after dogs in Europe for a long time!
However, there is a slight difference in all of this, because in Tokyo the “one” is also removed from the streets! I was standing there staring! I watched the woman vigorously remove her pet’s pee from the sidewalk, using something like a disposable diaper. First, she poured water over them, and then dried the concrete with it. Admiration, disbelief and one big shock!
Dog business in Tokyo is booming. Doggy medical and aesthetic care is booming, and there’s also business in clothing and doggy accessories. The money comes to dog guardians, and dog hotels thrive here, which are incredibly useful to such busy owners.
These places are filled with longing, grumpy faces of pets, yapping and convulsions caused by sudden anxiety about the future. Dogs do not tolerate separation, and staying in a hotel is a sad or even traumatic experience for them. Apparently, no one there does them any harm – they take care of them, and owners do not abandon them.
However, no one can explain to the dog’s heart that it is only a temporary break in contact and daily dose of love. The owner has left, the owner will come back, and the dog suffers his own pain and always experiences it very much – some of them sleep, others shake, others bark pitifully, and the others simply spin around nervously, as if in some kind of madness. All of them are waiting for owners.
Is it a dog or a human?
Dogs in Tokyo do not actually run around. Since they rarely go outside to defecate, and since all sorts of unusual solutions have been applied to them, distancing them a bit from animals and bringing them closer to humans on the basis of their well-established habits, sometimes, when I walk along the streets, I see them as little children rather than shaggy, dog-like mammals. Although I’m personally a big fan of these four-legged animals and have no problem spoiling them (they’re worth it), it took me a while to get used to the customs in this subject and in this city.
Another shocker for me… did anyone even think that a gondola stroller (admittedly a miniature one) is a very popular animal vehicle here? In Europe, it’s unbelievable – at least I haven’t seen it – but in Tokyo dogs do not walk too often, because they are often transported. In such a doggy vehicle, a dog can rest and take shelter in the shade in summer time from the persistent sun.
I looked at them and you know what? They even like it! They can sleep, they can look at themselves, they are not tied up and nobody is pulling them by the neck, they do not get tired and the human proudly and joyfully pushes the pram!
Dog clothing stores
In Tokyo, dog clothing stores are very popular, and on the streets, especially in winter, they are transported and sometimes fashionable dogs in great jackets and warm shorts. Today, it is actually not that bizarre – Europe also caught up with this phenomenon, but how about clothes for a dog and an owner? Same company and same style. The same blazers, the same jackets in a fashionable shade and tasteful cut – both like twins, on a walk together.
Yes, a dog in Tokyo is a big deal and not for everyone, but for a select few. The main reason – money. A dog in Tokyo is for the rich – just buying it, doctors, hotels, all sorts of gadgets – to make him feel good and look cute – these are undoubtedly the choices and problems of those who have money.
Do dogs fit the rhythm of this city and the character of its inhabitants? Well, they definitely try to fit in. Perhaps the approach to walking and defecation is just a matter of habit. Perhaps fashionable clothes do not restrict their movements as much as I think.
They cannot run, they should not bark – that is probably not a problem either. Tokyo has skillfully blurred the boundaries of the owner’s normal approach to the dog and, as in many other areas, has set its own trends. For its needs, it created the illusion between comfort and torment. Skillfully drowning out all the dog’s instincts, it even took away the possibility of a balance between what is artificial and what is natural. Dog life in Tokyo seems regal at first glance, but I am still not sure if it really is?