TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Meet Japan’s newest police dog -- all 3 kg (6.6 lb) of her.
In what is a first for Japan and perhaps the world, a long-haired Chihuahua named “Momo” -- “Peach” -- passed exams to become a police dog in the western Japanese prefecture of Nara.
The brown-and-white, perky Momo was one of 32 successful candidates out of 70 dogs, passing a search and rescue test by finding a person in five minutes after merely sniffing their cap.
“Any breed of dog can be entered to become a police dog in the search and rescue division,” said a Nara police spokesman.
But he admitted that news a Chihuahua had been entered may still come as a surprise to many.
“It’s quite unusual,” he said.
Television footage showed the 7-year-old Momo bounding across grass or sitting proudly, long hair blowing in the breeze.
Momo will be used for rescue operations in case of disasters such as earthquakes, in the hope that she may be able to squeeze her tiny frame into places too narrow for more usual rescue dogs, which tend to be German Shepherds.
The public response to the news of Momo’s selection took police by surprise, the spokesman said, adding: “The phone’s been ringing all afternoon.”
Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Paul Casciato