Yesterday: A lament about baby bumps. Today: A post from the Tokyo Times about how the Japanese are increasingly choosing pets over progeny. Australian Broadcasting Corp. reports that dogs now outnumber kids 10 and under in Japan. Take eye surgeon Toshiko Horikoshi, 46, who pushes around her teacup poodle and her Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix in a pram. (They get tired quickly, could get stepped on, and many department stores don't allow dogs on a leash.)Ms. Horikoshi divorced her husband who had asked her to be stay-at-home mom; she wanted to pursue her career. "I don't want a family, I want to continue to work hard. I don't need help, I don't need a husband. I can do everything by myself," she says. "But sometimes I feel lonely, and now when I come back to my apartment, I can see two dogs." Dogs, not kids, okay? Of course, there are downsides to the pet craze: The Japanese love everything tiny and kawaii (cute), so there are puppies born with horrible deformities due to overbreeding. Also, there are some all night pet stores in Tokyo's sleazy Roppongi district that are used for schemes: a "hostess" will ask a drunk businessdude to buy her a little dog; the next day, she will bring the dog back to the shop in exchange for cash. The shop keeps a cut. But back to the cute: Since people are integrating pets fully into their lives, the market responds. Kimonos, yukatas, cookies, omu-rice dishes… for dogs. Pricey stuff, and pet owners are snapping it yup. Let's be honest. A dog doesn't talk back. A cat never grows up to get hooked on heroin and resent you. A dog doesn't need college tuition or bat mitzvah money. I suspect that some people might see Toshiko Horikoshi pushing her puppies in a pram and snicker and think she's insane. Think she wishes she had babies. But she's a doctor who knows what she's doing. She doesn't want kids. She wants dogs. And that's okay. We're living in an overcrowded world where women are finally allowed to make choices. And if your choice is to baby a puppy or kitten instead of a human, who cares? There's a stigma of "crazy cat ladies" — maybe dating waaaay back to when women who were "too close" to animals were thought to be "communicating" with "familiars" in the animal world and therefore deemed witches? Unlike spoiling a child — where the rest of the world has to deal with the bratty maladjusted results, isn't lavishing attention, affection, and yeah, cash on a dog or cat a victimless crime? So why do people feel the need to make pet-crazy women feel guilty? (Related: I want that freaking pomeranian pictured up top. Kawaii!) Preposterously Pampered Pooches [Tokyo Times] In Dog We Trust [ABC News]
I wish people who feel compelled to spend thousands of dollars on accessories for their pets (who in turn are treated as accessories) would consider donating that money to a shelter instead (wishful thinking, I know). I like to refer to these people as pet owners, and responsible and pragmatic people as pet guardians. Pets aren't property...that paradigm is what leads to so many being dumped into shelters in the first place. I go to a protest every Saturday (after I do a shift at my local no-kill shelter) at a store which is basically a retail front for puppy mills, and you should see the people walking out with their purchases — they're trying to look like Paris Hilton (the poster child for being a dog owner). It's just sickening.