Five recent stories on the mixed fortunes in Japan of domesticated animals, with a strong bias toward man’s best friend:
- Health officials found 164 emaciated dogs crammed into a tiny house in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, last month in one of the country’s worst cases of animal hoarding. Public health officials first visited the house seven years ago after getting complaints from neighbors about the noise and bad smell, but the owner refused to let officials investigate at that time.
- For reportedly the first time in Japan, a dog trained to help child crime victims overcome the psychological burden of testifying made an appearance in a court in eastern Japan earlier this year. The 6-year-old golden retriever accompanied a teenage girl for some 90 minutes while she was cross-examined during the trial of a man accused of abusing her.
- A police dog that turned the tables and sparked a manhunt (doghunt?) himself during an operation to locate a missing woman in Hyogo Prefecture was found two days later unharmed. The runaway 2-year-old German shepherd was discovered on Mount Nagusa, police said, after an extensive two-day search. The police said they will consider whether to continue working with the wayward dog.
- An English-language website featuring stories about Akita dogs, a popular breed known for their good looks and loyalty to their owners, has been launched by a local newspaper in northeastern Japan. The daily started a special monthly page dedicated to articles about Akita dogs in January and opened a Japanese website in July, with the English version of the Akita Inu News established two months later.
- A hostel attached to a rescue cat cafe in Osaka Prefecture allows guests to fall asleep while gazing at cats, offering a haven for those wishing to escape from reality amid the coronavirus pandemic. Neko Hatago opened in December as an annex to the cat cafe Neko Yokujo. With eight dorm rooms modeled after lodging for travelers in the Edo Period, guests can peep at toms through a window installed by each bedside.