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Paw another one: Japanese hunting dog laps up attention as liquor store mascot in Nara

Fuku, a Shiba Inu, is seen welcoming customers at the counter of the "Ogawa Matabe Shoten" liquor store in the city of Nara in Nara Prefecture, western Japan, on Dec. 5, 2019. (Mainichi/Kenji Ikai)

NARA -- If patrons at a long-established liquor store in this western Japan city find themselves staring at a hunting dog instead of a sales clerk, there's no need for them to do a double take.

That's because liquor store "Ogawa Matabe Shoten," which offers a wide selection of locally brewed sake, has enlisted a Japanese Shiba Inu dog to welcome customers.

The 4-year-old male dog, named "Fuku," is the second mascot dog of the store, which was founded in 1868, the first year of the Meiji era, in Nara's Naramachi district, where many traditional buildings remain.

Sachio Ogawa, 60, the manager of the business, took in the canine, which was born in a neighbor's home, two months after the previous mascot dog died.

Fuku means "good luck" in Japanese. The dog was named in the hope that he will give visitors good fortune and make them smile. He usually spends the day in the store's office and peers over the counter when regular customers come in, in the same manner as his predecessor.

Fuku's warm-hearted expressions have been popular and many customers visit the store to see him -- an indication that they are not worrying about being "hounded" by the canine clerk.

(Japanese original by Kenji Ikai, Osaka Photo Department)

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