If you live in Tokyo and you don’t have the time, money or space for a pet of your own, you can rent one by the hour. Puppy the World, the rental pet shop in Odaiba, a trendy shopping and entertainment district, has more than 50 breeds of dog, mostly small dogs like toy poodles, Chihuahuas, dachshunds or French bulldogs. Medium size dogs like border collies and Labradors have recently been added to the list. A complete list of dogs is available on the shop’s website and dogs can be booked in advance (see link below). Dogs can be chosen to match your personality.
The hourly charge is 20 € and includes the dog, of course, a lead, some tissue paper and a plastic bag in case the dog soils the squeaky clean pavements. Each person who rents a dog is under strict instructions not to let it off the lead, to keep it in the shade in case of hot weather and to refrain from giving it sweets. Oh yes, and to return it alive! At the end of the rental period, the dog can also be groomed and be taken to the canine café, Puppy’s Dining. For 100 €, the dogs can be rented overnight. Food, drinking bowl and a cage are provided.
To the Japanese with a fondness for animals but who are unable to raise pets because of their cramped living conditions, overcrowded streets and strict housing rules, shops like these are seen as a godsend. The concept started 3 years ago with 17 shops and apparently now Tokyo alone has 115 such shops. Whilst puppy love is booming, vets and animal welfare organisations are very concerned about the dogs well being. It is very traumatic and stressful for dogs to be constantly manipulated like cuddly toys. It is a source of anxiety for them to be walked and pampered by different people. Some react badly to being endlessly kissed and cuddled. Many dogs show severe physical symptoms like stomach upsets. Also dogs can become aggressive which can lead to the dog bearing its teeth and to biting. And then what?