He wasn’t going to roll over for trolls.
The Japanese man who spent a fortune “transforming” himself into a dog is hitting back at haters who claim he should go to “therapy” after he took his first ever “walk” in public last week.
The canine cosplayer, named Toco, first made headlines several years ago after dropping more than $22,000 on a hyper-realistic collie suit, so he could realise his lifelong dream of becoming man’s best friend, reported the New York Post.
Since then, the human pooch has become a sensation on YouTube, where he posts under I Want To Be an Animal after uploading videos of himself masquerading as a Lassie look-alike.
The clips show Toco gussied up in full ruff-rider regalia as he rolls over, plays fetch and other supernaturalistic canine im-paw-sonations like a pooch-parroting version of stuntman Andy Serkis.
In his most viral video to date, which garnered 3.8 million views, Toco stepped out in public in his costume for the first time ever for a doggie debut.
The aspiring herding dog could be seen parading around busy streets, performing tricks and even interacting with “other dogs” as astonished onlookers oohed and aahed.
Despite seemingly more comfortable in a sheepdog’s clothing, Toco said he was “nervous” and “scared” of venturing out in public.
Needless to say, many online gawkers didn’t take too kindly to his canine coming-out party, with many taking to the Japanese social media platform X to shame him.
“Men will literally spend $20,000 to transform into a border collie instead of going to therapy,” quipped one critic.
“A Japanese man spent over $20K for this border collie costume,” jibed another. “You cannot convince me this isn’t some weird sex thing.”
However, Toco doesn’t sweat the haters. “I’m just sad that people can think that,” lamented the fur fan, who sometimes plays in a kennel with fake grass. “I love animals and enjoy play-acting like a collie.”
He added, “This is my hobby, so I will carry on. It makes me happy and other people happy, too.”
Indeed, the good-boy wannabe claims that summoning his inner dog is not a fetish but rather a way of life.
“Do you remember your dreams from when you are little?” Toco asked in the clip. “You want to be a hero or a wizard.”
He added, “I remember writing in my grade school graduation book that I wanted to be a dog and walk outside.”
Achieving this seemingly “unrealistic” lifestyle choice involved paying Zeppet — a company that makes costumes for TV commercials and films — a cool 2 million yen ($22,000) to design a super realistic collie costume.
Toco said he decided on a collie costume because its long hair can “mislead the human figure” — not to mention that these herding pooches happen to be his favourite breed of dog.
The final product took 40 days and multiple revisions to create.
Toco came out of the kennel in April 2022 by posting a video of himself in the dog costume, amassing over 3.2 million views.
“My dream of becoming an animal came true in this way!” he exclaimed in the caption.
Despite being proud of his pet-amorphosis, Toco takes pains to conceal his puppy proclivities from family, friends and colleagues, even using a pseudonym in the aforementioned video.
“I haven’t told anyone about my transformation into a dog,” he said. “I am still afraid that my friends will find my hobby bizarre.”
This story appeared in the New York Post and is reproduced with permission.