Zen mind, puppy mind

Japan Praying Dog
Conan the Chihuahua “prays” with his owner, chief priest Joei Yoshikuni, at the Shuri-Kannondo temple in Okinawa islands, southwestern Japan, on Monday.Itsuo Inouye / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

At a Zen Buddhist temple in southern Japan, even the dog prays.

Mimicking his master, priest Joei Yoshikuni, a 1 1/2-year-old black-and-white Chihuahua named Conan joins in the daily prayers at Naha's Shuri Kannondo temple, sitting up on his hind legs and putting his front paws together before the altar.

It took him only a few days to learn the motions, and now he is the talk of the town.

"Word has spread, and we are getting a lot more tourists," Yoshikuni said Monday.

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Yoshikuni said Conan generally goes through his prayer routine at the temple in the capital of Japan's southern Okinawa prefecture (state) without prompting before his morning and evening meals.

"I think he saw me doing it all the time and got the idea to do it, too," Yoshikuni said.

The priest is now trying to teach him how to meditate.

Well, sort of.

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