On Owning a dog in Japan

by Thomas C. Anderson
(Kanagawa, Japan)

On Owning a dog in Japan

A Tail (groan…) About a Dog

We’ve been the happy owners of a black Labrador Retriever for the past decade. Audrey’s my childhood dream come true as I wasn’t able to have a dog as a child because of my father’s allergies. In being Audrey’s master (or vice versa), I have come to believe that there’s a strong and almost spiritual connection between people and dogs.

We found our dog through a volunteer group who connect people who want a dog with people who can no longer keep theirs. We thought about what kind of dog we’d like and all three of us agreed that a Labrador Retriever would be the best for us. That was how we were able to get our dog Audrey (the former owner was a Hepburn fan) who we also call O-chan. It was love at first sight and we were really happy when Audrey became a member of our family.

We take Audrey out for a walk twice a day and, if I’m available, I do it. After a long day’s work and commute, I might grumble about taking her out but after a short time I feel revived and refreshed.

A typical Audrey walk is anywhere from forty five minutes to an hour or so. We are very fortunate to have a park about a one minute walk from our home. Another good walking route is the Gumyoji promenade with walking paths on both sides of the Oka river. We can enjoy looking at cherry blossoms in the spring and the wildlife in the river, including carp, ducks, small white herons, large grey ones, and turtles.

Gumyoji has an old-fashioned shopping street and several of the merchants have become Audrey’s friends and greet her as we walk along. I like to use our walk time as a time to think and meditate. It’s interesting that many people who would never give you the time of day will talk to you if you have a dog. Of course there’s an affinity among dog owners and we like to greet each other or stop for a chat.

If you have space and can handle the responsibility of being a dog owner, I’d strongly recommend it. Dogs are loyal lifetime friends and are full of unconditional love. Not only that-they make great exercise partners!

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