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Saturday, Sept. 1, 2001

JAPAN LITE

In Dog Heaven, pee on the Pearly Gates


There is much talk these days about the first tourists to the moon and Mars. Everyone wants to be the first to go. Except me. I'm not interested in going to the moon or Mars. I have a hankering to go someplace much farther away and much more exciting. I want to be the first person to go to Dog Heaven.

As the first person to visit Dog Heaven, I'd be able to write the first guidebook:

Dog Heaven has only recently opened up to visitors. You do not need a visa unless you come from a country where dogs are used as culinary delights.

Warning.: If you have a history of animal abuse, don't even try to get into Dog Heaven. The guard dogs at immigration have a way of sniffing out offenders.

Getting There: Mail trucks leave for Dog Heaven from all capital cities around the world. Mail truck drivers are the only ones who know where Dog Heaven is. Payment is in the universal currency: the dog bone. All proceeds go to the dogs.

Landscape: Dog Heaven is comprised mostly of old sofas draped with sleeping dogs: little dogs curled up in little dog circles, big dogs stretched out, fully engaged in doggie dreams. There's a beach where maybe you'll see your old pals frolicking in the waves or retrieving sticks. You'll notice that almost every dog sleeps with a Frisbee, a memory of days with his human family.

Upon arrival, you will be greeted by circus dogs who rush to the mail truck and perform tricks. Dogs will gather around, curious and eager to welcome you with undying dog enthusiasm.

Tipping: Tipping is discouraged, as all dog are equal in Dog Heaven. Donations of dog bones for communal consumption, however, are heartily accepted. Make donations upon arrival in Dog Heaven.

What to Pack: Milk bones and Frisbees. Please do not bring the following items, as the dogs may find them offensive: doggie sweaters and other fashion accessories such as collars, leashes and hair ribbons. In Dog Heaven, there is no brushing or toenail clipping, and dog haircuts are banned. No fences, muzzles or fleas, please. Do not give orders to the dogs such as "Sit" or "Heel," as this is considered very rude.

Food: The standard fare in Dog Heaven is: Breakfast: all-you-can eat hamburgers; lunch: cookies; dinner: Milk Bones dipped in cheese.

Oddities: You may be surprised to discover that dogs laugh in heaven. There are amusing signs all over: "Bark as long and loud as you please!" "Pee here, and here, and here!" "It's your territory -- mark it!" and "Little dogs, big dogs -- equal rights, equal bites."

Media: The Daily Dog carries news in both English and Dog. The front page is Obituaries/New Arrivals (Rover, 5 years old, Great Dane, run over by car; Shamala, 2, French poodle, squished between elevator doors, etc.). Today's Events includes tail-chasing, Frisbee, rabbit hunting, Howling Glee Club, dog disobedience classes (includes rolling in dead animals) and Ears, Eyes and Tummy Scratching. The most popular event is cat-chasing, held every day at noon. Old, nemesis cats now in Cat Hell are brought in to stir up sentiments from the past. The Entertainment section features special events like Retro Night--Come wearing your bandanna! Lastly, the Daily Dog offers new about human families left behind (graduations, weddings, deaths, etc).

You are welcome to visit with your old dog pals until evening, when all visitors must leave Dog Heaven. The dogs will quietly return to their sofas and curl up to go to sleep. As an added human touch, visitors are given the honor of doing roll call -- the calling out of the names of each and every dog so he gets to hear his name and know he has not been forgotten.

"Japan Lite" -- Japan's Best Humor by Amy Chavez, from The Japan Times. To subscribe for free, go to www.amychavez.com


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