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Akita dog, owner honored for rescuing elderly woman in Japan

Megumi Takeuchi and her Akita dog receive a letter of gratitude from Akita police in Semboku, Akita Prefecture, on April 1, 2019, for helping to save the life of a woman in her 90s. (Kyodo)

AKITA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Police honored an Akita dog and its owner Monday for coming to the rescue of an elderly woman in northeastern Japan.

The 12-year-old dog named Mame suddenly alerted its owner Megumi Takeuchi, 57, while they were out walking after discovering the woman slumped on a roadside around 1 a.m. on March 23, according to the police.

The woman in her 90s, wearing pajamas, was unable to give her name or address. She was taken to a hospital after Takeuchi notified staff at a nearby convenience store, the police said.

Takeuchi and Mame "joined forces with their strong bond and contributed to securing safety," said Hiroshi Wakatsuki, head of a police station in Semboku, Akita Prefecture, who gave them a certificate of appreciation for their efforts.

Takeuchi adopted the then stray dog in 2007. "I think Mame returned a courtesy to me. I'm honored," she said as the male dog was eagerly biting into chicken jerky given by the police as a prize.

Mame is around 90 in human years, according to a preservation group for Akita dogs.

Akita dogs are known for their loyalty to owners. The Japanese breed was popularized in the 2009 U.S. film "Hachiko" starring Richard Gere and recently adored by Russian Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova.

The statue of Hachiko, an Akita dog in the 1920s famed for loyally waiting for his deceased master for years near Shibuya Station in Tokyo, is now a popular meeting spot in the district.

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