The events are so popular, the owner of the café has to turn people away.

Strange Subculture

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.

Pet Project

The weekly event — named "Aibo World" after Sony's popular line of robot dogs — launched in November 2018, a few months after the Penguin Café's owner Nobuhiro Futaba bought his own Aibo.

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

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