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A look at how some people indulge their dogs

13 Comments

Probably you were shocked the first time you heard it; less so the second; not at all the third. Pets outnumber children. Not only in Japan. The U.S. and Brazil show an equal preference for four-legged over two-legged dependents. In Japan, pets gained the numerical advantage over children in 2003, so it’s old news. A little shocking all the same.

As of last Children’s Day, the national holiday celebrated on May 5, government statistics registered 16.05 million boys and girls under 15, as against 19.79 million dogs and cats.

This represents a massive transference of affection. When you hear – as Shukan Josei (July 19) does – a housewife talking of paying 50,000 yen to send her “child” to “manner school,” your first inclination is to take the word “child” literally. In fact she’s talking about her dog, as is another woman referring to the cancer patient in her family. Caring for a cancer-stricken dog is no light matter, financially speaking – 100,000 yen is the figure mentioned, probably not the final reckoning.

No one who is not a dog lover can properly understand the attraction of the little beasts – “little” almost invariably lately; the current boom is overwhelmingly in mini-dachshunds, Chihuahuas, poodles and the like, toy-sized dogs meant for indoor living, which is another break with the past, when dogs for the most part lived outdoors and, in Japan at least, were decidedly not considered, as they tend to be now, “members of the family.”

Understood or not, the attraction is clearly in evidence, and Shukan Josei describes it in terms of “impulse buying.” So irresistibly cute are the doggies in the pet shop windows that, if there’s a void in your life, whatever the void may be – you’re alone; your kids have grown and departed; you’re newly retired and need something to do – a glimpse of a newborn puppy or kitten is enough to convince you: here is the creature to fill it.

The trouble with irresistible cuteness is that it conceals more than it reveals. Even assuming it lasts – a doubtful assumption – the love-at-first sight response blinds you to the lifelong care pets need, and the time and expense that care demands.

“Manner school” is not merely a silly and affected indulgence. If a dog is to live in the house as one of the family, it must learn to behave. You can’t have it biting into the sofas, ripping up the curtains, soiling the carpets and swallowing indigestible household items.

So it learns manners, and having acquired them, seems to demand other refinements – clothes, hairstyles and so on. Shukan Josei mentions three clothing items: summer yukata, raincoats, and New Year’s kimono. There are hairdressers specializing in dog fur, and enough poodles walking around with (for example) heart-shaped patterns cut into their fur to suggest a pretty lucrative market.

Pets indulged to this degree are bound to live long, and so they do, their old age subject to many of the same ailments that plague humans – cancer, senility, infirmity of varying degrees and descriptions. Medical treatment for canine cancer runs into the hundreds of thousands of yen and beyond – if you don’t have pet insurance – but why shouldn’t you? It’s another surging economic sector, a typical policy costing 30,000-plus yen a year.

So be aware, Shukan Josei warns, that raising a dog or cat is not so very much less taxing than raising a child – with this difference: children grow up and become responsible for themselves. Pets never do.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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So it learns manners

Like barking and whining all day long. Seriously, does much training of dogs really go on here? There are a lot of little alpha males (and females) snapping and barking.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

raising a dog or cat is not so very much less taxing than raising a child

Sounds like the opinion of someone who has never raised either a kid or a pet.

The two are simply not comparable. Animals are easy-peasy, kids not so much. The rewards (and heartaches, if you get it wrong) are proportional.

a housewife talking of ... her “child”

A difference in linguistic usage, is all. No big deal. In English, 'my child' is specifically literally the fruit of my loins, or the equivalent; in Japanese この子 can be anything small and endearing for which one feels some kind of affection. I've heard it used of real kids, pets, houseplants and even a quiche whose creator was particularly proud of her first-time baking efforts. So please let's stop this inappropriate nitpicking of inappropriately-translated terms.

children grow up and become responsible for themselves. Pets never do.

That's a bad thing....?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The unabashed pet worship is a sign of an eroding society. In many cases peoples lives are so empty of genuine emotion that they seek the refuge of an empty relationship with a pet, indeed in their delusion making the pet into their child. While a pet is better than nothing possibly what often happens is pet owners go overboard regarding their pets and in fact becomes slaves to the pet. The human becomes the pet. It is so sad to see these people now pretty much everywhere pampering their pets while they sign petitions agains parks for kids to play. There is a moral emptiness to this pet worship in Japan. Pet owners need to muster up the courage to have friendships with humans instead or retreating into a fantasy relationship with a canine who often eats its own poop.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Pet owners need to muster up the courage to have friendships with humans instead

Why 'instead'? Why not 'as well as'? Most pet owners I know (not all, granted, there are oddballs, but certainly most) do not have lives 'so empty of genuine emotion that they seek the refuge of an empty relationship with a pet' nor do they 'need to muster up the courage to have friendships with humans'. On the contrary, they have a wide network of relationships and an abundance of emotion and affection that leads them to want to add another species into the mix - the more you have, the more you want, and the more you can give. Kids who grow up with a pet dog or dogs have the best possible childhood.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

A look at how some people indulge their dogs

I'd say people are using their dogs to indulge themselves. I doubt the dogs have any idea what's going on.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I've met that dog

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

a side effect of the population decline. Or a reason for ?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Kids who grow up with a pet dog or dogs have the best possible childhood.

What a load of tosh. Just accept the fact that not everyone on the planet thinks that a whining, barking sh*t machine is so luvverly that everyone-should-have-one.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

children grow up and become responsible for themselves

not always the case...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sunglasses seem good for anyone and even dog. Ultravilolet is so bad for eyes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"people indulge their dogs"

You would think that with people indulging their dogs, there aren't millions of people all over the world who still don't get enough to eat or otherwise need help, and you would be wrong.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A look at how some people indulge their dogs

Really, they mostly don't indulge their dogs. That would mean that the dogs want the things mentioned, and that the owners give in and allow them to have them. However, dogs do not generally want a fru-fru kimone. What they want is a great big old leg bone of a cow that they can go bury somewhere.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

My mother had a dog when my elder brother was born. The same dog seven years later when I was born. Ditto for little brother who "arrived" three years after me... We were brought up with dogs, we all loved dogs and each one had his/her own however, the ONLY times the dogs were "left" outside was when they were playing in the garden or going for walks with their caretakers. (There are still numerous dogs left outside, whatever the weather, in Japan...) Taking care of them taught us responsibility. It was up to us to feed them, walk them and play with them in the garden and they all lived to a grand old age. By the way, dogs do NOT need clothes... they are already "dressed"...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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