One of many things I like here in Germany is the social understanding for pets in public places. During my first visit to Germany – I was here on vacation -, I realized that the Germans consider their pets as family members much more than the Japanese do. I was certainly surprised when I saw a well-behaved dog sitting under the table next to me in a café. It made a positive impression on me, as taking your pets everywhere seemed to be normal here. Actually you can usually take them to most places, such as restaurants, cafes and trains – but you cannot take them to supermarkets. It was a bit funny for me to see the sign in front of a supermarket saying “Hunde müssen draußen bleiben (No dogs allowed)” because I take it for granted.
However, I also like cats now but I would say my favorite animal is still the dog. It might have to do with my very first dog named John. John was found and then caught by my grandfather somewhere on a street in my town. Unfortunately, it was always kept in our garage, outside the house. It was really sad for me to see him freezing outside, especially during the winter. Unfortunately I couldn’t do anything against it because my brothers and I were just too small to have any kind of influence on family rules.
I guess dogs were classed as watchdogs in Japan. However, the way the Japanese take care of their pets has changed a lot after the Japanese economic upturn in the 1960s and 1970s. Now pets are mostly kept indoors and people feel closer to them as they share their living environment.
According to the survey from the Japan Pet Food Association 2006, 12,000,000 dogs and 9600,000 cats are kept in Japan. So there is a total of more than 20,000,000 dogs and cats in Japanese households.
If you compare it with the total number of Japanese children aged under 15, it might help you better understand the pet situation in Japan. Japanese government statistics from 2007 tell us that there are 17,380,000 children under 15 years old, so less than the number of dogs and cats! Besides, Japan has been struggling with its low birthrate. Hence, married couples tend to have more pets than to start a family. It might be one of the reasons for it.
You can say that the pet market has been taking over the market share for children’s needs, give or take. Business related to pets has been spreading, especially for the daily care products, for example dog shampoo, hair conditioner and paper diapers etc. You can now find a wide range of offers for pets.
To conclude, we all know that pets are good to have around us. But due to increasing problems related to pets, we should really consider whether we can take responsibility for them or not before deciding to welcome a pet in our homes.