[Corona ni Makeruna] Shelter Dog Cafe: happiness is being together
When I opened the door, I heard loud barking and saw bodies of different colors running towards me. Smaller dogs huddled up and jumped onto my lap.
This is the “HOGOKEN CAFE®” (shelter dog cafe) which houses dogs and cats abandoned by their owners or taken from breeders because of their age or state of health. The store is not only a place to interact with pets, but also to match them with potential foster owners.
The cafe was opened eight years ago by the non-profit organization “Love Five”, headquartered in Higashinari-ku, Osaka. The NPO has 9 stores across Japan, with around 15 pets listed in each store when we interviewed them.
The stores receive around 250 visitors a day across the country, including those who come to adopt them. Fortunately, over 16,000 pets have found new homes here so far.
Adopted dogs can also come with their adoptive owner to play dog cafe.
On the day of our visit, a 54-year-old woman came by the store with her pet, a toy poodle. She had already adopted her pet, Cocoa, when the animal was taken from a breeder.
At the time, the woman also had an aging dog named Milk who had lost her sight. Initially, Cocoa was aggressive towards her new owner, biting the woman’s hand no matter how many times she was told not to. Still, she was kind to Milk, who couldn’t see, walking in front of the older dog to lead the way as they walked around. When Milk had to have her vocal cords removed due to a chronic illness, she found herself speechless but was able to make a sound to communicate with her owner.
Cocoa is also aging now. Her eyesight has deteriorated, so she is afraid to go for a walk. But that day she looked calm, resting comfortably in her master’s arms. “I am really grateful that she came to see me,” said the owner of Cocoa.
Love Five board member Junya Yoshii, 37, expressed the NPO’s concerns about the current situation. COVID-19 containment measures imposed since 2020 have increased demand for pets as more people have turned to them for their comfort.
Once the pandemic has passed, people will return to their jobs and resume their daily lives, leaving time for their leisure. “I’m afraid more and more people will stop looking after their pets and let them go when that happens,” Yoshii said. “Either way, you have to be determined to do them [pets] happy until the end. We would like people to be ready to welcome pets into their lives. ”
(Read it Sankei Shimbun column in japanese on this link.)
Author: Yuka Sudani, Photojournalism Department