Look out, it’s all gone to the dogsThe morning schedule includes playing with discs, followed by a lunch of chicken breast with a side of pudding. After lunch, despite the post-prandrial drowsiness, an appointment at the beauty salon awaits.
Such is a typical day for a guest of Petian Castle, a Seoul theme park for dogs that boasts a beauty salon, shops selling canine knicknacks and restaurants where dog and owner can dine together. Also on the premises are a dog hospital with 21 beds and a photo studio for the four-legged friends. A dog hotel is also slowly rising alongside Petian Castle.
“After spending a day there, my dog waits at the front door, seemingly dying to go back,” said Bae Mi-suk, 47, a Suwon resident who brought his furry friend to Petian.
Petian is not alone in furnishing dogs with all the trappings of luxury. A number of other dog-friendly entertainment facilities are being built across the country for dog lovers and their pets. Some of these centers even have a wedding hall and a bakery for dogs.
It is not uncommon to see 100,000-won ($85) dog leashes and 400,000-won leather jackets ― for dogs of course. One pet shop in southern Seoul’s trendy Sinsa-dong even has doggie tanning equipment.
Responding to Korean dog lovers’ willingness to spend heartily on their beloved animals, an American bakery franchise that caters to dogs has opened in Seoul. Three Dog Bakery uses honey and sugarcane instead of sugar and chocolate as main ingredients in its doggie treats.
Pet photo studios, mostly targeting dogs, began popping up in Seoul two to three years ago. A framed picture the size of a full newspaper page or a photo album of 10 half-page-size pictures goes for 400,000 won to 500,000 won, which is 10 to 20 percent more than similar photos of people.
Studios attribute the higher prices to difficulties controlling dogs. Dog owners typically have their pets photographed just after acquiring one or after taking them to a beauty salon.
One boutique, Gangajipul, sells matching clothes for dogs and their owners. The clothes are 100 percent cotton, as dogs are more sensitive to synthetic materials.
The Web has also sprouted name-making sites for dogs, charging 3,000 won to 5,000 won for the ideal names corresponding to dogs’ breeds and colors.
Dog fever seems more vibrant in neighboring Japan, where the pet industry is estimated at 2 trillion won annually.
In Japan, there is even hot springs for dogs. The city of Nonoichi on Honshu island has an enormous bathtub for dogs made from a large abandoned freight container. The price of the hot spring bath? From a modest 30,000 won on up to a budget-busting 800,000 won.
Some dogs even enjoy the luxury of mud baths, which are increasingly popular in Japan. The mud is imported from Israel’s Dead Sea, and is regarded as being the best quality in the world.
by Pyo Jae-yong, Kwon Hyuk-joo