A Japanese man who spent more than $20,000 to become a dog has finally taken his first walk and immediately made some canine friends.
Known only as Toco, the man spent two million Yen (A$22,000) on a hyperrealistic border collie costume to fulfil his lifelong dream of “becoming an animal”.
In recent updates shared with his almost 30,000 YouTube subscribers, Toco was seen playing in his backyard on all fours and performing tricks in exchange for treats.
But now he has ventured into public for the first time to reveal his new look.
In a pair of surreal videos posted to his YouTube channel ‘I want to be an animal’, Toco was seen being taken out for a walk on a leash, sniffing at other dogs in a park and rolling around on the floor.
Toco’s grand debut — which was captured while he was filming a segment for a German TV station — seemed to be well-received by passers-by and other dogs, who appeared curious. It wasn’t clear whether they realised Toco wasn’t a natural-born dog.
“I became a collie, fulfilling a dream I had since I was a little child to be an animal!” subtitles at the beginning of the video read.
In an introduction to his YouTube channel, Toco explained via a series of written notes translated from Japanese (he doesn’t speak in the videos, since he wants to be a dog): “Nice to meet you. I became a rough (sic) collie because I wanted to be an animal … Please let me know your request for the video you would like to see in the comments!”
Toco says he hides his human identity because he doesn’t want to be judged by people he knows.
“I don’t want my hobbies to be known, especially by the people I work with,” he told the Daily Mail last year.
“They think it’s weird that I want to be a dog. For the same reason why I can’t show my real face.”
“I rarely tell my friends because I am afraid they will think I am weird,’ he said in a separate interview with the Mirror.
“My friends and family seemed very surprised to learn I became an animal.”
In a clip of his first outdoor walk, which took place in September in his backyard, rather than in public, Toco said he felt “nervous and a little scared”.
“I’m very nervous,” he said in the video.
“Do you remember your dreams from when you are little? You want to be a hero or a wizard.
“I remember writing in my grade school graduation book that I wanted to be a dog and walk outside.”
Japanese company Zeppet, which makes costumes for TV commercials and films, spent 40 days making Toco’s $22,000 outfit.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Modelled after a collie dog, it reproduces the appearance of a real dog walking on four legs.”