Barking Mad

Readers will realise within the span of this sentence what a biting, satirical pun the title of this post conveys as the following text will discuss to what extremes the Japanese go in the mollycoddling of their pet dogs. A recent trip to a medium sized outlet mall beyond the outskirts of Tokyo had no less than three pet stores where doting owners can buy anything from dog clothes and kimonos to perambulators. These things are not pet themed but actually intended for use by said pets!

Though dog clothes are a cruel insanity nothing really prepares you for the idea of dog prams, seeing as dogs are evolutionary better equipped for walking than us bipeds by a factor of two.

This sunny day saw the crowds at this mall divided into young families and dog owners in a 20-80 split. A man or woman pushing a pram was far more likely to have a canine sticking out of it than human offspring. In the West the idea of dogs as children substitutes is widely recognised, presumably, as a mental illness whereas in Japan it is a powerful market force.

I had always presumed the disastrously low birthrate in Japan had something to do with the expense of looking after a child but seeing how much money, time and attention these people spend on their dogs it may just be that Japanese people don't find each other attractive enough. There is definitely something offputting about someone who dresses a dog up in a little canine kimono without grasping how ludicrous this is. And pushing an animal around in a pram or carrying it around in a branded shoulder bag may give you the feeling of parenthood but it is our duty to make sure these people get the mental healthcare they so obviously need.

Using a dog may be a decent child substitute that circumvents the messy and painful business of giving birth and can be entirely achieved without having to witness your naked husband bearing down on you with a flushed face but it is undeniably insane. I occasionally feel like the only sane person in Tokyo and that is worrying news indeed, for Tokyo.


  1. an erstwhile coworker often told this story in a slight rage about seeing a couple in a park (in kobe, maybe) with their dogs and their child in a stroller. passerbys would stop and dote on the dogs while completely ignoring the child. so yeah, it's not just tokyo.

  2. Ummm,

    Just fyi: This is not a Japanese thing. I made that assumption too when I stumbled on the Three Dog Bakery in Daikanyama. Then I looked at the website for the Three Dog Bakery. It was an American company with 26 stores in the USA and 1 in Tokyo

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