Japan Dog Lauded for Raising Alarm Over Collapsed Man

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chiba Riding Park instructor Yuna Maruo and 5-year-old dog Koume are seen at Chiba Riding Park in Wakaba Ward, Chiba.

CHIBA — A 5-year-old dog who barked for help to draw attention to a man who fell ill has been recognized for his quick-thinking aplomb.

“Koume,” who lives at Chiba Riding Park in Wakaba Ward, Chiba, received a letter of thanks from the Wakaba Fire Department for aiding a club member in distress.

The dog and a staff member at the horse-riding facility were credited with preventing the man’s situation from becoming serious and were lauded for their “perfect response.”

According to the club, a man in his 50s complained of feeling poorly after riding a horse at around 4:30 p.m. on February 25. While heading to the parking lot to rest in his car, the man suffered a heart attack, lost consciousness and collapsed.

Koume, who is known for enjoying human company, had been following the man when he collapsed and began barking loudly.

Staffers of the club, who heard the barking, called an ambulance and used an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to revive the man. The man survived his ordeal and has since returned to the club to ride again, with no aftereffects.

“[Koume] loves people and everyone thinks he’s great,” said Yuna Maruo, a 23-year-old instructor at the club, adding that Koume is usually very quiet and only barks under rare circumstances. By way of example, Mauro cited bark-inducing occasions including when a horse was trying to “flee” the facility by jumping a fence, and when an old horse was having difficulties standing on its own.

For generations, the riding club has employed female “mascot dogs” with similar personalities to welcome the club’s members. When Koume was a puppy, he reportedly was overseen by “Ume” — an unrelated pooch — who reportedly took good care of the young dog. “Ume may have taught Koume to attract attention if something unusual happened,’ Maruo conjectured. “She’s likely feeling happy in heaven.”

Koume and Maruo received letters of appreciation at a special ceremony held at the club on April 20.

“When it comes to crisis management, noticing even the slightest change is crucial,” said an official in charge at the fire station. “Koume’s barking for help and the actions taken by the staffer were the perfect way to respond [to the situation].”