Cafe society goes to the dogs

by Yuko Naito

Everyone has seen dogs sitting forlornly outside shops, tied to a railing, waiting for their owners. Not only are the pets unhappy, but how many owners have been distracted from their shopping or meals by guilty thoughts of their lonely pets waiting outside?

What dog owner hasn’t dreamed of taking their dog anywhere life’s path leads them? Or failing that, at least anywhere Saturday’s shopping and cafe-hopping path takes them. But, alas, many restaurants and shops are off-limits to pets.

“It cannot be helped. There are people who really hate dogs. Some even call the public heath department if they see dogs around [at eateries] saying it is insanitary,” says Sachiko Ishihara, owner of interior goods store Sabby Genteel in Tokyo’s Daikanyama district.

Ishihara, who opened the store 18 years ago, added a small cafe three years ago. People walking past see Ishihara’s two dogs (8-month-old miniature schnauzers) inside and know they can bring theirs in, too. It’s the answer to dog owners’ dreams: Enjoy shopping without leaving Fido outside. Even better, at Sabby Genteel, pets and their owners can drink together at the cafe.

Sabby Genteel isn’t as unique as you might think. More and more cafes and restaurants with outdoor terraces allow pets, so even if you don’t see a sign it’s worth asking whether or not pets are allowed.