The family pet is just that: a part of the family. Losing that pet is often very emotionally painful.
However, what if that pet is a robot?
According to a short documentary film by the New York Times, the loss of a robot dog is as emotionally traumatic as the loss of a real pet.
Here's some background on the film: in 1999, Sony released the Aibo robotic dog. These dogs, equipped with artificial intelligence, cost around $2,000 each and came with the ability to move, walk, bark and carry out basic commands, just like real dogs. However, unlike a real dog, the Aibo never needed feeding, never peed on the carpet and never died.
"Aibo is a unique companion capable of expressing emotion and communicating with other electronic devices at home and beyond," writes Sony on the Aibo website. "Effortlessly, Aibo will use its artificial intelligence to blend into your lifestyle, occasionally requesting you to tickle it under the chin or to stroke its back."
However, now, in 2015, parts for Aibo are becoming more difficult to obtain, meaning that these robotic dogs could, in fact, die after all. Sony stopped supporting repairs on the dogs recently, leaving Aibo owners on their own to keep their family pets up and running. The outlook for Aibo is grim: parts for the robot are in short supply for all.
The New York Times looked at this situation, and as a result, came up with a short film showing that these stories about man's best friend, even a robotic one, still tug on the heartstrings.
"It's like a real dog," says Michiko Sakurai in the video. "I can't live without it now, but I've been anxious thinking my Aibos are breaking down."
The film is part of The New York Times' Robotica series, which looks at how robots change the way we conduct our daily lives.
The film begins with a Buddhist prayer service in honor of the Aibo, mourning the passing of the world's first real robotic dog.