Japan smitten by puppy love

TOKYO Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:28am EDT

1 of 3. A long-coated male chihuahua named 'Heart-kun' with a heart-shaped pattern on his coat sleeps at Pucchin Dog's shop in Odate in northern Japan July 10, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

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TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - A chihuahua puppy has become Japan's latest heart-throb after he was born with a heart-shaped mark on his coat.

The dog, named "Heart-kun", was born on May 18 at a pet store in northern Odate. Shop owner Emiko Sakurada, who bred over 1,000 puppies, believes his unusual markings have brought her luck.

"Since Heart-kun was born, not only I, but also many people who see him are getting luckier," Sakurada said.

The dog became a celebrity after a local television station aired pictures of him. Since then, Sakurada has been flooded with calls from people wanting to buy him, which she has turned down.

"It may sound strange but since I saw him, my luck has been picking up. I won the lottery and won a concert ticket. That must have been thanks to the power of Heart-kun," said Sakurada's sister, Maki Matsuyama.

Japan is a dog-loving nation. Earlier this year, an old dogs' home and a gym dedicated to exercising canines opened for business.

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