Close X

Japanese Guardians Give Loving Care to Elderly Dogs

Do you notice the difference between how I would describe what is happening in Japan versus how the AP writer describes it? Why is it...

Joy  |  Dec 29th 2006


Andy on an underwater treadmill.jpg

Do you notice the difference between how I would describe what is happening in Japan versus how the AP writer describes it? Why is it that the many in the media feels that its necessary to ridicule loving, caring actions towards non-humans? Are humans just so all around wonderful that we’re the only species that deserves to be loved and pampered? I think not!

Okay, I know some will say that there are humans suffering all over the world. And that’s terrrible. I don’t want to see unnecessary suffering among anyone, human or other species. But let’s get real. Just because a guy tries to help the dog who helped him get through hard times in his life have less pain in his own, shorter life, doesn’t mean that the human cares less about the unknown human in need. It means that the human caring for the dog or cat is a better person and making the world in general a better place. If we can care for the other species we share the world with, then we can make the world a better place for us all.

Let’s look at children. Children who learn empathy for other species go on to be better people. Who are the problem children? Those who never learn to care about other species. Those are the children who grow up being much less likely to care about other humans as well.

So how about it media folks? Let’s get off the, “oh how odd it is that someone would try to make their old dog feel good” bandwagon? Let’s remind people that when people or cultures begin to realize that they share common bonds with other species that’s a good thing. It shows that the people and the cultures are maturing and expanding in positive ways.

Thanks to the Seattle Times for this article.

Japanese owners indulge aging cats and dogs
By Hiroko Tabuchi

SHUJI KAJIYAMA / AP

TOKYO Andy has sprouted white whiskers, suffers from lower back pain and no longer bounds up the stairs like he used to.

Still, the 11-year-old Siberian husky isn’t lying idle: every week he meets his personal trainer for a run on an underwater treadmill, does laps in a doggy pool to strengthen his hind legs and unwinds with a hot spa and massage session.

The boom in pet ownership in Japan has led to a new phenomenon: legions of elderly animals that doting masters pamper with fortified food and vitamins, aromatherapy and even acupuncture.

“I want to do everything I can for Andy. He’s part of the family,” said Aya Ashiya, 50, of Tokyo as she ran around the swimming pool with a squeeze toy, cheering the husky on during a recent session at the dog aqua fitness gym El Pero.

Though figures are scarce, a study published last year showed that longevity for cats in Japan almost doubled between 1991 and 2003, from 5.1 years to 9.9 years. Dog longevity surged from 8.6 years to 11.9 years.

But longer lives have led to ailments seldom seen before in pets in Japan, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

Japan’s doting owners have helped push pet spending to new highs. The pet industry here topped $8.6 billion in 2005. That’s only a quarter of expenditures in the United States, but for Japan it represents a 40 percent increase since 1994.

In a sign of the nation’s growing obsession with animal companions, industry figures show Japanese families now own more than 23 million pet dogs and cats, exceeding the number of Japanese children under 15, which hit a new low of 17.46 million in 2006.

Kyuta, an 8-year-old long-haired Chihuahua, started biweekly acupuncture sessions at the Kamakura Genki Animal Hospital after severe back pain struck last year.

At a recent session, the dog yelped as a veterinarian inserted 13 needles into his quivering back and hind legs but soon settled down in his owner’s arms.

“Kyuta loves coming here. His tail goes right up when he gets on the examination table,” said Emi Matsuya, 43, a Tokyo hairdresser.

The pair travel two hours each way by train for the acupuncture sessions, which cost $47, Matsuya said, and the Chihuahua eats homemade meals of meat and vegetables now that he is getting older.

“Dogs crave attention that’s what makes them happy. And happy dogs live longer,” said hospital director Takashi Ishino, who also offers massage and aromatherapy treatments.

Japan’s aging dogs also benefit from specially designed care items such as doggie diapers, harnesses that support aging pooches on walks and pet strollers. Elderly cats have their own products, including climbing towers with extra padding.

And owners can take a break from their pets by getting a nursing-care specialist. Keiko Himi, who runs the pet-sitting service “Nyan to Wonderful” northeast of Tokyo, says an increasing number of owners ask her to care for aging pets while they run errands or work.

Follow this link to read the rest of the article.