NAIE, Hokkaido Prefecture--Man’s best friend has come through again.
The government of this northern town on Nov. 24 recognized "Junior," a 7-year-old male Labrador Retriever, for helping save the lives of an 81-year-old man and his 3-year-old granddaughter by cuddling up to them in a stranded car during a snowy night.
Junior’s actions greatly impressed and inspired the people of Naie.
According to the Hokkaido Prefectural Police, Yoshimasa Soma, a Naie resident who owns Junior, and Sukai Kimura, his granddaughter visiting from Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, became stranded after they went for a ride in Soma’s car, along with Junior, around 4 p.m. on Nov. 15.
Just past 11 a.m. the next day, Yasuhiro Oishi, 48, who is from the nearby city of Takikawa, discovered a car that had flipped over on its side on a dry riverbed in Urausu, a town adjacent to Naie, as he was passing by.
Oishi said the damaged car was covered by about 20 centimeters of snow and had broken windows when he found it. Soma was lying in the driver's seat and Sukai was in a rear seat. Junior was snuggling up to Sukai, who was in pain and weeping, to keep the little girl warm.
Asako, Soma's 78-year-old wife, attended the commendation ceremony on behalf of her husband, who was still in hospital.
"You were great, Junior,” she told the dog. “I really thank you."
Ryoji Kita, the mayor of Naie, praised Junior as the "pride of the town."
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