We have taken great interest in the pets around us in all of the cities we have lived in since leaving home and have been amazed by the way pets are treated in these big cities.In Moscow there were many dogs, with a good range of sizes, although there were probably more small – mid size dogs on average, while in Tokyo there is definitely a tendency to the smaller dogs and miniature types. Moscow also had a large stray dog population, so it wasn’t uncommon to run into the odd one of these, there was even a story doing the rounds while we were there of a university student who did a study on the lives of stray dogs and discovered one in particular which used the Metro system to travel the same route around the city each day. One night while walking home in the snow we spotted someone walking down the street with what looked like an eel on a leash, however upon getting closer we discovered it was a ferret.
While we have come from a country where dogs are generally banned from towns and cities, in the rest of the world it seems that pets are welcome everywhere, there are always dogs in the cities, on public transport, in fact there seem to be no limitations other than to make sure you pick up their poop, except in Russia of course where no one bothered with that and there was just dog crap everywhere. It is amazing how quickly a field of fresh fallen snow can be turned brown in Moscow.
Here in Tokyo there are also a number of pet cafes, where one can head along and enjoy a coffee or tea in the company of a huge number of cats (and dogs also I think in some places), however we haven’t got that far yet, but one is on our list of places to visit in time.
As the pets don’t get the free running life that we are used to giving our pets in New Zealand, they are quite pampered. Most dogs will have some sort of fancy suit on, and the smaller the dog the fancier the outfit, it is quite bizzare to see some of the outfits. Cats aren’t generally seen roaming the streets and will be locked inside as well, and if they do venture outside will be on a leash just like a dog. There are shops full of pet wear and the actual cost of buying a pet in the first place is astronomical. We will often have a look in a pet store just so the kids can pet a cat or dog and here in Tokyo it seems that even a basic breed cat or small dog will set you back close to $NZ 1,000 +, with classier breeds getting up around $NZ 2,500 – $NZ 3,000 +, that is without the registration fees, etc and the ongoing costs of health checks, grooming, etc.
On one of our outings around Tokyo we stumbled upon a Halloween Pet Party at Roppongi Hills, and saw a huge collection of outrageous pets all in one place, this was right out of one of those “Only in Japan” type books. Some of the owners were as eccentric as their pets.
Many pets are pushed around in special prams, not just a converted kids push chair like we would do in NZ, but special pet prams….. Pets really are a big business over here, and there is a great range of pets that we wouldn’t usually see, including Rhino Bettles, hermit crabs and even sugar gliders, which we considered getting until we discovered how much hard work they are. So for now it is back to checking out the pet shops and patting the friendly dogs in the street.