Being a lifelong dog lover, living in the constriction that defines Japanese urban life has forced me to abandon man’s best friend until we move to more spacious environs (or finding a landlord that permits pets).  Under pressure from a dog crazed wife, I finally consented to her pleads to check out a nearby pet grooming academy that lends dogs for two hours, one day, or one month periods.

Leasing a dog seems like a bizarre thing to do, especially if like me you grew up in a suburban area where it seemed like every other family had a dog.  If you didn’t have a dog then your next door neighbor did, or your uncle, so getting some dog time was never very hard.  But here in the metroplex, constraints of time or space or both leave people grasping for whatever animal therapy they can manage.  So renting a dog, even for just a few hours, is a service growing in popularity.

Which leads us to the Yokohama Trimming School a short walk from Shin-Yokohama Station and right around the corner from Shin-Yokohama Ekimae Park.  The school trains and certifies in all elements of dog grooming and beauty, and as a consequence cares for about 25 or so dogs (and several puppies) at their facility.  These are used by students to practice their trimming, hair dying, and nail clipping skills.  Consequently, the effects of recent “beautification” experimentation is plainly evident on the dogs.   All the dogs are also small varieties, mostly Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Miniature Dachshund, Toy Poodle, ect.  So if your looking to romp around with a St. Bernard your out of luck.  The dogs are shown on the board with a rank for their walking acumen (3 paws being a walking lover, one paw a more pick-me-up and hold me type), you choose one that you like, and after filling out a 500円 membership and deciding on the 2 hour rental plan (also 500円), your on your way.

This being our first rent-a-dog experience, we decided on a manageable, 2 year old, Chihuahua named Momo.  Being pure white, Momo had been subjected to a variety of color motifs on her body.  Her feet and tail were died dark purple, in addition to a heart-shape on her rear, and a pink one on her front neck.  Needless to say I found this a bit disturbing, and even though it was only hair coloring I couldn’t help but think of it a mild form of torture.

Momo had some "dye" practice done on her

Like all the dogs at the school, Momo was very well behaved and obviously very comfortable with strangers taking her for a stroll.  We walked up and down Shin-Yokohama Ekimae Park several times and headed just before the rains came.

Overall, it was a good experience, and taking a two hour walk with a dog is certainly better then taking one without.  Who could argue with that?