A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

More on Dogs and a Dog’s Life in Japan

By Avi Landau


Dogs have not had it this good in Japan since the days of the DOG SHOGUN Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1646-1709) who issued daily edicts for the protection of dogs. (Alas, he was born in the Year of the Dog). Or should I say that people in the PET INDUSTRY have never had it this good. For despite the preponderance of pampered lapdogs and other expensive imported breeds which could not be seen so prominently in Japan even just a few years ago (especially in restaurants!!), and all the money being spent on luxury items and foods and grooming, foreign dog-lovers still find the way dogs are treated in this country to be one of the MOST STRESSFUL aspects of living in Japan. Most dogs are left to spend most of their lives tethered by an extremely short chain or locked inside steel cages hardly larger than themselves often directly exposed to the sun. My neighbors pointer has been locked in such a box for years. Its only recourse for stress release is incessant barking, which begins before dawn and goes on for at least two hours.

The worst stories I know are those related to hunting dogs, mostly pointers, which are usually treated as inanimate objects. In winter, every weekend hunters bring their dogs to my neighborhood for pheasant hunting. To spare the precious interiors of their vehicles from dog prints, many of these locals throw their dogs INTO THE TRUNK or keep them in tiny boxes on the back of their mini-vans. The most appalling story is the fate of the older hunting dogs which cannot be of use to their masters any longer (if you are squeamish DO NOT READ ON). The pointers are driven out to Mt Tsukuba, shot in the hind legs and left to starve. The reason this is done is that in this way the farmers don’t feel as if they’ve ACTUALLY killed their dogs. A friend has also told me she has seen an old pointer thrown out of a fast moving vehicle.

Yes, for me, the treatment of dogs is a constant source of stress. It’s hard for me to be happy when I pass a poor dog in a tiny cage, exposed to the sun, with no water. So despite the preponderance of well-cared for, even spoiled pooches, attitudes about animal care still have A LONG WAY TO GO before Japan becomes a REALLY COMFORTABLE PLACE TO LIVE.

If you see or hear about any dogs in need of help, please contact me and I will get in touch with people who can help.

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