Japan is full of novel ideas when it comes to caring for pets, and the most recent animal venture from the Japanese company Aeon is no different: this month, the country's first "dog nursing home" is opening near Tokyo. The canine retirement community will offer around-the-clock care for the 20 dogs who move in (but the company does have plans to expand). Dogs will have access to veterinary care, a gym and a swimming pool -- just like at a retirement facility for humans.
"We decided to open the nursing facility because so many dog owners have requested something like this," Aeon spokesperson Nanako Oiishi told The Telegraph. "Many Japanese people have pets now, but of course they get old and it can be difficult to care for them."
On the one hand, Aeon's justification for the project is right: as Japan's population ages, pet-owners often find it more and more difficult to care for their animals. Several entrepreneurs have come up with alternative care programs for dogs (and cats) that have been abandoned by their elderly owners, who often adopt pets to alleviate their loneliness without realizing the extent of the commitment involved. The pet nursing home might just be another one of these bold ideas that keeps abandoned pets off the streets or out of shelters.
But, on the other hand, it's possible that the Aeon pet nursing home could prompt pet-owners to give up their elderly dogs more easily, undermining the lifelong commitment they've ostensibly made by adopting a pet in the first place. Of course, the $1,000 per month cost of the canine retirement facility means it's unlikely that people are just dumping their dogs when they've had enough -- at least, we hope that's the case.