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Kyoto police present message of gratitude to dog keeping eye on commuting kids

Kyoto Prefectural Police's Fukuchiyama Police Station chief Koichi Ono, right, presents a letter of gratitude to Ayaka the Shiba Inu dog and her owner Miyoko Watanabe in Fukuchiyama, Kyoto Prefecture, on June 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Koji Sato)

FUKUCHIYAMA, Kyoto -- Kyoto Prefectural Police's Fukuchiyama Police Station on June 8 presented a message of gratitude to a dog that has been watching out for the safety of commuting schoolchildren.

    Ayaka, a female Shiba Inu dog in the Miwacho district of the city of Fukuchiyama, has kept watch over Miwa Elementary School students and others, and was recognized by the police station for her faithful job since it appointed her as a "schoolchild watchdog" in September 2018.

    The road in front of the home of Ayaka's 70-year-old owner Miyoko Watanabe is a commuting route for elementary and junior high school students. Miwa Police Substation inspector Atsushi Kinoshita, 42, had noticed that Ayaka was always there. The inspector asked Watanabe for cooperation in making Ayaka "the symbol of local efforts to watch over children," and they set up a doghouse -- named "dog police box" at Watanabe's house. They also put a bandana bearing the word "POLICE" around Ayaka's neck.

    With her gentle character, Ayaka became popular among the elementary schoolchildren, and three students sent a message board of gratitude to her on May 23 to thank her for her job.

    On June 8, Ayaka's sixth birthday, she continued to carry out her mission of watching out for the safety of schoolchildren passing by. The same day, Fukuchiyama Police Station chief Koichi Ono read out a message of gratitude in front of the dog police box bearing the message board from the children.

    "We don't want children to get caught up in incidents or accidents," Watanabe commented on behalf of Ayaka. "We'd like to continue doing this for as long as possible."

    (Japanese original by Koji Sato, Fukuchiyama Local Bureau)

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