SEMBOKU, Akita Prefecture--A hero received a letter of gratitude from police for saving an elderly woman from near-freezing temperatures, but he was probably more thrilled over the reward of dried chicken breast strips.

Mame, a 12-year-old Akita-Inu dog, was awarded the certificate and his favorite treat on April 1 at the Semboku station of the Akita prefectural police.

Megumi Takeuchi, 57, a bank employee who lives in Semboku’s Kakunodatemachi district, was walking Mame around 1 a.m. on March 23 when the dog suddenly rushed forward.

Mame had discovered a bare-foot woman in her 90s who was wearing pajamas and hunched over on a pedestrian path, according to the Semboku station.

The woman did not know her address or her name.

Takeuchi asked staff at a nearby convenience store to make an emergency call, and the woman was taken to a hospital.

She had not suffered any injuries and was later taken back to her home.

“The mercury hit 1 degree at that time,” a police official said. “If the old woman had been found later, she could have been in critical condition.”

Takeuchi said: “Mame is friendly to human beings and has been doted on by neighbors. I think that he performed the feat in order to return the courtesy (from humans).”

Or he may have been looking out for people in his age group.

Mame is about 90 in human years, according to Akitainu Hozonkai (Akita Inu conservation association), based in Odate, also in the northern prefecture.

Mame’s former owner abandoned the dog when he was around 1 year old.

Takeuchi adopted Mame from a friend, and has since taken care of the Akita-Inu for 11 years.

She named the dog Mame, which means “bouncing” in the local dialect, hoping he would stay lively.