Chikao Muratani is a veterinarian and owner of Anima Animal Hospital in Tokyo's Chuo Ward. Having worked in the United States for years, Dr. Muratani is fully bilingual and his spotless and beautifully designed clinic is known as a neighborhood hangout. People with pets are encouraged to pop by weekly for a chat and to measure their furry companions' weight in order to keep a constant check on their health. Pets are treated to healthy snacks and a bit of playtime. Muratani adores animals, and the feeling is mutual: On the streets around his clinic, dogs on their daily walks can be spotted whisking their humans to see their friend, who happens to be their doctor, too.

Animals are always on our side, even if we are in the wrong. Animals are so innocent. They never betray their human companions and even if they are hurt by people, they forgive. They are great teachers. Loving animals makes us into better human beings, as we learn compassion and unconditional, true love.

In Japan, especially in big cities, pets are replacing human babies. Compared with even five years ago, the number of dog carts on the streets has increased tremendously. People push their dogs and sometimes cats around town in cute carts, very similar to those used for babies. Pets are family members and, for many Japanese, the only child they will ever have, so they pamper them as much as possible.