March 17th, 2010

For Sachi’s birthday and our wedding anniversary, I thought that a night out would be fun–but the main attraction would be a rental Shiba. We’ve done the doggie rental thing before, but both times the Shibas available were more of the cream-colored variety; Sachi prefers the red Shibas, as do I. There’s a shop in the bayside entertainment area called Odaiba called “Puppy the World” which features rentals, and this time they had a very pretty pooch named Yuri which I asked them to hold for us. We picked Yuri up a 3pm and took her out for a stroll by the beach.

The Hero Shot


When you rent a dog, they give you a little pouch with plastic baggies and tissues; the dogs are not pre-walked and inevitably take the first opportunity to “take care of business.” What they should include in the pouch is ziplocks, as the smell is a bit much for the whole time you’re with the dog. But it’s fun anyway.

Okay, I’ll run a bit. Just a bit.


Oh yeah. Riiiight there!

Yuri was not a big activity fan; her preference was to stick to the side of the paths or go into the grassy areas and spend 95% of the time with her nose half an inch from the ground–standard doggy protocol, I guess.

Why aren’t you guys into this dirt and grass stuff? It’s great!

One thing that Sachi and I notice about the rental dogs, however, is eye contact–or lack of it. I think the dogs see people renting them as vehicles to get out and about more than anything else. Yuri, at least, was very patient with our petting and scratching and fussing, even when she wasn’t as into it as she was in the images above. But she rarely looked us in the eyes, keeping her gaze fixed primarily on other dogs in the area. (Which she usually regarded with suspicion and standoffishness.)

Sizing up the local Poodlery

But even when there were no other distractions, she didn’t respond to us directly, which made the experience feel a bit disconnected. That ended when we brought her back and the shop guy gave us a treat we could break into half a dozen small pieces and feed Yuri (feeding the rental dogs without permission is a strict no-no). When food was involved, Yuri suddenly seemed to recognize that were were there and she paid lots of attention to our signals at that point, and after. Tells you something.

Huh? Food? Oh, hey, you guys do exist!

Interestingly, she had very specific rules about where she would go. The sandy beach was a definite “no.” And when we tried to go beyond a certain point down the boardwalk, she dug her paws in and refused to go a step further. It was not a random stop, either; twice we went to the same area, and twice she stopped and refused to go beyond the same point. Bad memories from a different set of clients, perhaps. So it was mostly back and forth within a fairly small area.

End of the line guys. About, face!

It kind of reminded us, however, of the difference between renting a dog and having your own: the rental dog is just not that much into you. A lot of doggie joy involves your relationship with the pooch, something notably absent in the rental experience. So while we enjoyed ourselves and very much like the photos that came out of it, this will probably be our last rental before we eventually get geared up for actual Shiba ownership, maybe a year or so down the line.

what a pup

Categories: Focus on Japan 2010, Shiba Inu Tags: by
  1. March 17th, 2010 at 15:52 | #1

    This is a delighful post! I have never considered renting a pooch; however, now I’m seriously considering doing so. (Alex, the cat who owns me, is no fun to walk).

  2. March 18th, 2010 at 05:02 | #2

    Very interesting post! Shibas are known for being a bit more standoffish than other breeds. There’s a couple (Japanese, which makes sense I suppose) down the hall from us that have a Shiba that’s very aggressive/assertive towards other dogs, and isn’t much of a “people” dog.

    Indiana, our golden retriever, on the other hand, doesn’t often care much about other dogs, preferring people’s attention.

    Are you guys set on a Shiba? What’s the availability of other breeds in Japan?

  3. George
    April 7th, 2010 at 17:55 | #3

    Hi Luis,

    Long time fan of your blog. Just FYI, there’s a free Shiba on Craigslist.


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