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Takku was on the verge of being put down in an animal shelter in Yamaguchi Prefecture after his owner had abandoned him. Now the year-old mixed breed has a new owner and is being trained as a police dog.

Naoko Yamamoto, 50, is hoping Takku will one day pass the test to become a part-time police dog with the prefectural police and serve as an example for other dogs like him.

“This year marks the Year of the Dog,” she said. “I am hoping Takku will provide a ray of hope for stray or abandoned dogs.”

Takku was left at the animal shelter in October 2016 when he was 5 months old.

Learning of Takku’s impending fate through a social networking site, Yamamoto, a writer and resident of the city of Yamaguchi, offered to become his owner one day before the dog was scheduled to be euthanized.

Their initial encounter was not encouraging. Takku was wary of humans and growled at Yamamoto as she drew close.

“Still, I have to protect this puppy or it will be killed,” she remembers thinking at the time.

Her first act was to entrust Takku to a local dog training center for six months.

As he got used to being around people, Takku’s superior sense of smell and ability to cross-match scents came to the attention of his trainers, who transferred him to a training center for police dogs.

To become a part-time police dog for the Yamaguchi Prefectural Police, each canine must pass a test, held annually, to see if he or she has the ability to follow a scent left by a suspect or a missing person, and pick out a specific scent from among a number of objects.

When Takku took the test in November, he failed. According to his trainer, Takashi Sueoka, Takku appeared nervous in the unfamiliar surroundings.

Takku’s task this year is to become accustomed to all kinds of environments so that when the test comes around again he will fulfill his potential and show he has what it takes to be a part-time police dog.

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