We rent everything else, so why not a pet.

There’s some interesting pet news coming out of Japan, an Island nation about the size of Disney World and just as expensive. They don’t have a lot of room there, so things are done on a small scale. Think sushi or the back seat of the tiny Scion IQ.  By comparison, a typical Tokyo family can fit their entire living quarters in the trunk of a General Motors SUV.

They tend to downsize things to fit their land limitations. As a result, they don’t have many pets larger than an origami dragonfly. Where would they put them? There’s no room to keep a dog, much less find the space to walk one. And you’ve heard the jokes about a lack of the cat population in Asian countries? Part of it is true. Just like chicken. If a resident wanted a dog but didn’t have the space, what could they do?

You may be disappointed to learn that some Japanese apartments are not pet friendly though it may be difficult to find rental apartments allowing large types of dogs which weigh 10kg or over. Note to America: a kilogram is almost like a pound but heavier.

They’d love to have pets and there’s hardly any room for people, but that’s not stopping themTokyo has a walking park for pet owners, which is so exclusive that they charge by the hour. That’s on the cutting edge of pet ownership or in this case pet rental because if you don’t have a dog, you can rent one. That’s right, rent a dog. It’s a social thing! It’s a controversial practice opposed by many animal rights advocates and has been banned in Massachusetts.

I think it started with the Tamagotchi, an electronic pet that doubles for a dog and does all the tricks except go on your rug, and there may be an app for that. I guess they thought why not build a dog that you could fit in a shoe box….. and leave it there.

On the other side of the dog park, Americans pamper our dogs as if they were part of our natural born family without an allowance, schooling or wedding costs. Dogs can discover hidden criminals, lick every part of their body and nudge you when they need a walk. They make money in film. In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Toto made over $125 a week, compared to the Munchkins, who made $50.

American pets are living the good life. In a recent year we spent a record $55 billion on Rex and Fluffy. Some of that went to gourmet pet food tasty enough for humans (duck and quinoa) and premier pet care facilities like the Barkley Hotel and Day Spa.

Rates there start at over a hundred a day and depending on how guilty you feel about going away and leaving your pets behind, the sky’s the limit.  Sky? What about Skype? Through Skype you can ‘chat’ with your dog in real time when you get lonely and want to see Poochy enjoying the lifestyle you can only dream of.

The property is custom designed to meet and exceed all kennel industry standards and makes the Four Seasons seem like the Bates Motel. Anyone can place a chocolate on the pillow at night, but I’ll stay at a place where I can get some of the services of the Barkley like a tuck-in tummy rub while listening to a personal bedtime story. “Once upon a time there was the luckiest dog in the world…”

Room Service is available (steak for dogs and sushi for cats) with special seasonal meals like turkey dinners. ($115 a day? I’m moving in now!)

At the Barkley, your pet can enjoy a limo ride through the drive-thru at McDonald’s for a choice of hamburger, cheeseburger, or Chicken McNuggets. Take out only. Dogs can walk out of there feeling like the million bucks you just spent on them, then when they get home, crap on your carpet because they don’t want to leave the pampered life.

Originally opened in Cleveland, a sister Barkley has launched in California and also caters to rabbits, rodents, birds, cats and snakes. Money to burn? Your gerbil will never have it as good!





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