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March 31, 2008
Holy God! It's Conan the praying dog
by Gulliver
Conan the praying dog
Conan the dog joins the Buddhist priests for worship at the Jigenin temple in Japan.

It is an amazing sight that is giving religious worshippers paws for thought and has led to a surge in the numbers that attend services.

At a Zen Buddhist temple in Japan, Conan the pet Chihuahua joins in the daily prayers.

When the monks get into their positions for the service, Conan is not one to be left out.

The dog takes his position alongside priest Joei Yoshikuni, when he starts chanting and raising his clasped hands.

He sits on his hind legs, raises up his paws and joins them together at the tip of his nose.

Conan looks right up at the statue of a Buddhist deity during the services.

He has become a star attraction at the Jigenin temple on the southern island of Okinawa.

Mr Yoshinuni estimates the number of visitors, especially young tourists, has increased by 30 per cent as a result.

Conan has made headlines across the world and has become a popular tourist attraction.

The priest believes the one-and-a-half-year old dog learned to imitate the praying position by watching him.

The black and white pooch started to pose in prayer like the monks whenever he was looking for treats.

Clasping hands is a basic action of Buddhist prayer to show appreciation, says Mr Yoshikuni.

Conan may be showing his thanks for treats and walks, he explained.

Regular temple worshippers say it's so funny that he does this. Conan even gets angry when somebody else tries to sit on his favorite spot, they say. He regards it as his special place.

So what's the next step for Conan? Maybe learning to meditate?

"I am just trying to get him to sit still while I meditate," Mr Yoshikuni explained. "It's not like we can make him cross his legs."

As it says in the movies, all good dogs go to heaven. And this praying pooch is certainly on the right path.

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