Is it a forgotten-about software developer joke? A cute widget, like Google’s doodles? An easter egg for customers who explore every corner of the website? No, but us assure you: Toyota’s dog website, dog.toyota.jp, is entirely real, functional and up-to-date. And it’s called Dog Circle.
In fact, Toyota’s digital canine corner is more than earnest; it’s a tactical move. For years, Honda has catered to dog owners in the Japanese domestic market with targeted advertising and even a doggy car, the Beagle. The company has won dog owners’ hearts—and their money–and Toyota wants some of the (meat scrap) pie.
In typical juggernaut fashion, it has responded will all hands on deck. Toyota’s shiny, shiny website—again, that’s dog.toyota.jp—includes a section on canine health tips, meetings and events for dog people, and a handy guide to which Toyota automobiles can most comfortably accommodate Fifi and her arthritic hips, or Boffo and his flatulence. Toyota recommends its Porte and Noah vans, with low floors and wide-opening doors, for accessibility; canine flatulence is not addressed, but the site does list an optional compartment divider.
Google Translate has trouble parsing the entire text, so some mysteries remain to this The Drive staffer. One ominous sub-menu is titled “Heat Stroke in Dogs.” Another, more happily, is titled “Interior Dog Rejoice.” An article whose copy didn’t translate promised ideas on how to “discipline the meaning of discipline,” providing a new existential curiosity to nag at us until we fully learn Japanese.
Toyota’s hidden dog website: laughs, helpful hints, metaphysical quandaries. And it’s all yours.