living the japanese dream

Submitted by Susan Miller on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 10:11.

Get your schooling, get your job, get married and have a dog. If you plan any outings with your pooch, you'll need a vehicle, so Honda launched a dog car website: Honda Dog just for the occasion.

"Reuters reports that visitors to the site, which is in Japanese, can learn about events where they can test-drive Hondas with their canine companions or even go to races where a section is reserved for guests with dogs. It further shows pup owners the most efficient arrangements for pet crates in most of Honda's vehicles — and touts the automaker's advanced deodorization filter, which lowers in-vehicle allergens and helps get rid of undesirable smells." from this article: Dog Bytes: Honda Japan Mounts a Dog-Specific Web Site

This news came in an email hawking Hondas in my inbox today, "Honda has discovered the recent pet boom that has birthrate on the decline, and pet ownership on the rise in Japan." There's a concept to lower birthrates for ya. Have a kid or two (not 13) and a dog.

Me? Born in Japan, first dogs, Hachi, Dachi and Dozo - all shepards. Dozo - my "first dog" traveled to the US on a ship across the Pacific with us in 1958. I can't say that he was hummimng "Comin' to America" while on board, but I do have a sweet picture of my brother whose duty it was to fetch him from the ship's kennel and walk him on deck four times a day. According to my parents, Japanese families were overrun with US military base dogs in the 1950s and since they were not spayed or neutered there were always more puppies than a family could feed. The standard procedure was to select a "rich American" who lived in off base and dig a hole under their fence, insert dog and hope the puppy would be well received. This is how Hachi, Dachi and Dozo came to live with us in Japan.

All dogs always traveled with the family in the car. Currently my Honda means adventure for my pooch, Phoebe, and sometimes she even brings a friend.  She especially likes the Chagrin River and Whiskey Island. Fur and pawprints in the car? You bet. She's white. I avoid wearing black.

Where I like to vacation, the listings of beach houses to rent have little pawprints to indicate which houses are dog friendly. I have to admit that she rules many decisions for me. For many years it was one kid and two dogs ruling the roost and the car and the plans. Now Phoebe has the upper paw.

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This is a bit much, Susan.  I love dogs-- and cats, too--but they are not frivilous.  They are expensive.  Over the average lifespan of a cat--the total cost to a homeowner, food, medical costs, kitty litter etc--is $6,000.  I haven't researched dog costs, but I imagine that they are much higher.

While, it's a cost that I am willing to pay for the best companionship money can buy-- the planet most definitely can not support cars for canines.

cost of human vs. cost of pet

Contrast the cost of having a pet with that of having a child... I can't even fathom the difference in cost between my child and my dog(s).

For example, my dogs have all been happy with a ball or a stick, a bone and a bowl of dry dog food. They never needed clothing, never mind clothing of the sort that would allow them to not be scoffed at by their peers.

My kid though... Oh my God! And not only that, I could have afforded a whole kennel of dogs for the cost of the first two years of college. My child, anyone's child laughs at $6,000. Our child cost us more than this in his first year of life.

I don't think that the point is that one would purchase a car specifically for one's dog, but that since so many people are having dogs instead of additional kids, automakers can accommodate that reality.

PS I would never refer to my dog(s) as frivolous. They have all been steadfast companions. And as for the "rich American" comment, we were never rich though the rate of exchange between the US and Japan in the 1950s meant that my adventurous parents opted for a traditional Japanese house off base and were viewed by their Japanese neighbors as "rich". Believe me, my mother had no intention of having a large family - stopping at two had always been her plan. Indeed, my brother always referred to me as "the result of one too many champagne cocktails on the flight back from Korea". After me, only stray dogs were allowed to join the family. My Mom, a neonatal nurse knew too well the issues surrounding poor family planning.