OYODO, Nara -- A police dog and his trainer were given a letter of appreciation and beef jerky by Nara Prefectural Police's Yoshino Police Station for their contribution in rescuing Shizuo Akira, Osaka University's specially appointed professor and a world authority in the field of immunology, who went missing while mountaineering.
The 3-year-old German Shepherd, named Juke Vom Hunde Schule, has been dispatched 29 times so far, but this is the first time his work has led to finding a missing person.
According to the police station, 68-year-old Akira, whose name has been mentioned as a possible nominee for a Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, was injured and became unable to move while climbing Kannon peak in Tenkawa, Nara Prefecture, on his own on July 24.
The police dog and his 25-year-old trainer Atsumi Miwa from Kansai Dog School, began searching for Akira on the morning of July 26 using the smell of the professor's shirt as a hint, in response to a request from the police station. Around noon, the dog who Miwa describes as "a little timid, but is careful and diligent with his police work," suddenly reacted to something, and tried to deviate from the mountain trail and descend toward a valley.
Though the two couldn't go any further as the area was difficult to walk in, the German Shepherd apparently didn't try to leave the spot. A rescue team member who later headed to the valley found Akira. The dog recognized his presence from a distance of about 800 meters by using its sharp sense of smell.
The trainer smiled and said, "It was the first time we searched in the mountains, but he concentrated well during the work. We would like to use this experience in a positive way in the future." Although the dog seemed nervous from the beginning to the end of the commendation ceremony on Sept. 2, he wagged his tail in delight when receiving the beef jerky.
The German Shepherd is apparently a cousin of Kreva, a Hyogo Prefectural Police dog who ran off during a mountain search operation in October 2020, but found a missing person at another search site after returning to duty following three months of training.
(Japanese original by Mizuki Hayashi, Nara Bureau)