Every Sunday, Tokyo’s Penguin Café opens an hour early to host an unusual group of visitors: robot dogs and their owners.
A new BuzzFeed News story dives deep into both the event and the people who’ve fallen in love with robodogs — and foreshadows a future in which more animal lovers might opt for mechanical pets over mortal ones.
By the time BuzzFeed visited the cafe for one of the meetups — which included a “birthday” celebration for not one, but two of the robot dogs — it was so popular that Futaba had to turn customers without robodogs away from the shop.
A Robot Dog’s Life
When asked by BuzzFeed why they chose an Aibo over a real dog, attendees at the meetup gave a variety of reasons, including a lack of room, long work hours, and a concern that a barking dog might annoy their neighbors.
But according to BuzzFeed, one specific reason seemed to crop up the most: the Aibo owners didn’t want to have to cope with the death of a beloved pet.These owners *really* love their mechanical pups.
“It would break my heart to have another dog die,” one attendee told BuzzFeed through a translator — and by channeling her love into a robot dog, she doesn’t have to worry about that future grief.
READ MORE: All Robot Dogs Go To The Cloud [BuzzFeed News]
More on robot dogs: Our Future Pets May be Plastic and Metal Instead of Flesh and Blood