I'm not making this up. According to an article by E. S. Huffman over at UpRoxx, the D+ Spa in Kagoshima Prefecture is offering a special deal wherein you can come over with Fido, and a certified Shinto priest from the nearby Shingariyu Shrine will get rid of whatever evil spirits your dog has in attendance.
"Seven-year-old, 10-year-old, and 13-year-old dogs need to be careful of their health, as it’s easier in those years for them to get diseases of aging," the D+ website explains. After all, it couldn't be because by the time dogs get to be ten years old, they're moving into the age bracket euphemistically known as "getting up there in years."
On the other hand, if creaky joints, bad eyesight, and wrinkles are caused by evil spirits, that'd be good news for people Of A Certain Age. Like myself. Unfortunately, however, D+ doesn't offer exorcisms for humans yet, only dogs. And if the whole thing brings up mental images of Linda Blair puking up pea soup all over the place, not to worry; the exorcism ritual only lasts thirty minutes, is apparently calm and peaceful, and afterwards the newly-cleansed dogs get to go for a swim in a dogs-only pool. Then, according to the website, they "are reunited with their owners for a relaxing meal and champagne."
Me, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to give a dog champagne. But maybe the bubbles keep the evil spirits from returning, I dunno.
Actual photo from the D+ website of a poodle, settling in for a nice post-exorcism nosh
What I wonder, besides "Are you people nuts? Or what?", is that in my experience all dogs have weird, quirky habits, so if you're attributing canine oddities to evil spirits, then every domesticated dog I've ever met must be possessed. In my long years of dog ownership, I've known dogs who:
- never figured out that you can't walk through a sliding glass door
- tried to herd our cats
- thought a stuffed toy was a live squirrel and stared at it for hours on end waiting for it to move
- begged for cucumbers but completely ignored us when we were cooking steak
- had a mortal hatred of ping-pong balls
- barked furiously at strangers -- until they walked in the front door, at which point everyone apparently becomes a friend
- would suddenly turn vicious and block the door, growling and snarling, when visitors tried to leave
I sort of doubt that any of this could be fixed by exorcism. Myself, I've always thought that domestication just makes animals act weird. In order for a formerly-wild animal to cohabit successfully with humans, it must kind of screw up the mental circuitry on some level.
On the other hand, if you want my vote for a species that really could use some intervention, evil-spirit-wise, I'd suggest looking at cats. On a recent visit to a friend's house, I met a cat whose preferred mode of affection is to jump on the top of the chair you're sitting in and bite a chunk out of your scalp. Another friend has a cat who likes to climb into your lap, reach up with both paws, and attempt to give you a nipple piercing right through your shirt.
You have to wonder what a Shinto priest could do about that.
Anyhow, if you're ever in Japan with your dog, consider whether a family outing for a canine exorcism might be right for you. As for me, I need to sign off here so I can go let my dog out, so she can spend the next three hours sitting completely motionless staring at a tree in the back yard, waiting for squirrels to spontaneously drop from its branches or something.