One dogs contem....contemp....con-tem..pla-tions on daily life........oh, stop rolling your eyes already and give me break, I'm a dog, for Gods sakes...

Japanese couples enlist pet dogs as canine 'witnesses' in marriage ceremonies

Japanese brides and grooms are enlisting their pet dogs to act as canine "witnesses" in wedding ceremonies.

The bride and groom's dog is able to carry the rings up the aisle and then seal documents with their pawprints as part of the pet-friendly wedding. Photo: ALAMY

By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo 12:36PM BST 11 May 2011

The Yokohama Kokusai Hotel just outside Tokyo is offering couples a "dog wedding" package enabling their beloved pets to play an active role in marital ceremonies.

The bride and groom's dog is able to carry the rings up the aisle and then seal documents with their pawprints as part of the pet-friendly wedding.

The dog is also able to indulge in some pre-ceremony pampering, with washes and shampoos on offer, along with the optional provision of wedding outfits coordinated with their owners.

Tapping into the nation's love of all things canine-related, a professional dog trainer takes care of the pets throughout the ceremony, which is organised in conjunction with a local pet event company.

"The dog recognises the marriage by sealing documents with its paws," a spokesman for the hotel told the Telegraph.

feel that pets are a very important part of the family in Japan. We love dogs and understand that having a dog is very popular for many young Japanese women." The fact that such a package exists in Japan is perhaps little surprise in the light of the nation's two big passions – pets and weddings.

Japan's love of cats and dogs has been well documented, with a pet industry worth billions and the nation's pet population long overtaking the number of children under the age of 12.

From yoga and aromatherapy massages to dancing classes and fashion shows, there are few areas of human life that are not also available to Japan's pampered pets.

Wedding services have also long been a major business in Japan, with the industry was valued at around £20.8 billion (2,748 billion yen) in a recent report by Yano Research Institute.

Traditional Japanese weddings conducted according to Shinto customs have increasingly been eclipsed by younger generations opting for lavish Western style ceremonies.

Canines & kids: What the dogs can teach us

I have had dogs my entire life and I have been a mother for more than 15 years. It struck me this morning as I took my little furry ones, Charlotte and Lucy, out for their morning walk that parenting children is a lot like being a responsible pet owner: Everyone is happiest and healthiest when you strike the right balance between discipline and freedom. To use doggie terms, it's all about learning to handle the leash.

Keeping your child or teen on too short of a "leash" tends to produce resentment, rebellion and a constant struggle to cut loose at every opportunity. Alternatively, they can become impacted by too much reining in and end up being needy, fearful and unable to take action on their own. But a "leash" that's too long – meaning a lack of supervision and boundaries – reminds me of the old saying: Given enough rope, anyone will hang themselves.

Now, please don't misunderstand the point I'm making here. When people tell me they're getting a dog before having children to "practice," I am the first to caution them that while dogs are wonderful, they are certainly NOT a case study for child rearing! Most everyone knows that the care of a Lab is a very different proposition than raising a son or daughter. However, I do believe that there are certain philosophies that we can draw on about creating a loving home and mutually rewarding relationship.

As parents we need to allow enough slack for exploration, growth and education – while still being able to pull our kids away from danger in a hurry and preventing them from getting caught and injured because they've been given too much rope.

So, what can parents learn from pet owners?

Different Strokes: As a parent you know your child's temperament better than anyone else and can adjust your style accordingly. Just as larger, headstrong dogs need a firm grip, tight collar and short leash, some kids require more supervision, follow up and reining in than others. Combine your own experience with feedback from significant adults in your child's life to make decisions about how much or how little slack to provide so that your child has the appropriate boundaries, discipline, responsibility and freedom.

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency: Teens, like pets, thrive on consistency… making sure everyone knows the rules and administering immediate corrections will minimize power struggles. Setting regular schedules, letting your child know exactly what's expected of them in a given situation and not ignoring small problems until they turn into big ones are all good steps along the way.

Lose the Distractions: How many times have you seen people walking their dogs while they're chatting away on their cell phones? They never even glance at the pet they're dragging along behind them – or notice that he's chewed through the leash and run off. Nearly every parent is overwhelmed today with demands on time, energy and patience – but make a conscious effort to pay attention to what your child is thinking, feeling and doing during whatever time you spend together. Put down the cell phones, turn off electronic devices and take the time each day to engage your child in good, old-fashioned face-to-face communication. Let them know you are interested in them and the life they are leading.

Reward Good Behavior: A child who knows the rules, follows them and respects the limits of the "leash" that you have put on them should be rewarded with greater privileges – driving, later curfews, extra time on the computer, a special activity, etc. Entire schools of dog training are based on various methods of positive reinforcement… and it's just as effective with your child. It was only a generation ago that many parents relied on corporal punishment to ensure respect. I think we can all agree that a firm, but loving touch is a much more rewarding and appropriate approach for every family member… kid or canine!