Dog Café

1 03 2011

I found something new!  Well, experienced something new anyway.  I read about these “dog cafés” in an ESL text book with one of my classes a few months back.  Sounded brilliant!  I tried with all I had to make my middle school boys care about people drinking coffee with other people’s dogs in English – a futile attempt that could make an unanesthetized leg amputation feel like afternoon tea.  Though it did get me excited about the prospect of one day coming across one.

I had a terrible dream last night that I was out to dinner with some people who decided to order dog meat soup.

I was out with some girlfriends today and immediately noticed the yapping of dogs from behind a window as we walked by on the sidewalk.  Any other day I probably would have just sauntered by without paying notice, but the dogs in cages inside brought the recollection of my dream flooding back.  The ground level looked like an average pet store showing off the youngest, cutest animals to passer-bys, but through the 2nd floor window we could see people in booths drinking tea covered in small, domesticated creatures.

So how it works is this.  You walk inside and are immediately hammered with the intense smell of pet store.  I’m sure you know what I am talking about.  Walk upstairs and through the puppy gate and are greeted by a swarm of dogs massive and chihuahua, young, old, healthy and coned.  You pay a flat fee of about $8 (a bit pricey, if you ask me), order your beverage and hang out in a booth with a pet of your choice or in the lobby area playing with squeaky toys.  People drop off their dogs here in the mornings before work so they are not lonely throughout the day, and people who don’t want the full time commitment of pets of their own can benefit from the busy schedules of those who did.  Everyone wins!  There would surely be some health code violations, but I think this could really take off in the states!  …Maybe..  There are also many other things about Korea that I think could (or should) do well in America, but after thinking a bit more about it retract my supposition.

At the Jjimjilbang (bathhouse)

Example #1:  Public bathhouses.  They are fantastic!  Huge, beautiful male/female separate facilities with pools, steam rooms, massages, showers and saunas.  After freshening up, rendezvous with your friends/family of the opposite sex in communal areas to watch private TV’s, relax in even more saunas, bathe your feet in beautiful pools, order drinks and snacks, and other odd amenities.  Though this would not fly in America because we are not comfortable with nudity.  One of the most trying mental situations for any young American has to have been the mandatory showers after gym class.

Example #2:  Call buzzers on every table at restaurants to call over your server when you need him.  That is the only time the server will come over to the table.  Bypass all the phony greetings, small talk, and premature “How does everything taste?” (5 seconds after the meal came so you don’t really know what you need yet, then have to wait God-knows-how-long for them to reappear once you finally decide what you do need from them.)  Don’t even get me started on the joys of not having to tip anyone!

Example #3: Norae-bangs!!  Private karaoke rooms, open 24 hours, bring all you can eat/drink.  Need I say more?  There is absolutely NO reason these should remain an “Asian thing”.  Stop being so selfish, Asia.

I think many Americans would think the Dog Café thing is “dirty”.  Or someone would get nipped, prompting a lawsuit to shut down the whole game.  For whatever reason it hasn’t made its way west yet, I can still enjoy them in Asia for a few more months.  Or not.  $8 is a lot of money to leave a café smelling like someone else’s dog, and I really wish at this moment I had a lint brush.

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