In November 2011, a worker from the nonprofit Peace Winds Japan scouting for search and rescue dogs at a Hiroshima animal welfare center came across 4-month-old Yumenosuke. The mixed-breed pup was set to be put down that day, but a backlog meant his number was never called. PWJ took him in and trained him, and the group's efforts paid off recently: He made his first recovery amid the rubble of Japanese landslides that killed dozens in mid-August, reports the Asahi Shimbun, as spotted by Gawker.
Yumenosuke wasn't a natural when he first started his rescue-and-recovery schooling: He wasn't assertive or overly curious, both necessary traits for the job, notes the paper. Over time, however, he gained confidence and learned to follow directions as he accrued experience performing mountain searches. When he made his first official find on Aug. 20 in the Yagi section of Hiroshima, Yumenosuke didn't raise a ruckus by barking: He simply fixed his gaze on a pile of lumber and didn't take it off until his handler checked out the pile. Sadly, a man's body was found under the wood, but Yumenosuke had done his job. "A dog abandoned by people is now rescuing them,” his handler tells the paper. “It is proof that Yumenosuke deserves to live.” (In the US, a pit bull is being hailed as a hero.)