Her high-pitched yapping is never likely to intimidate Japan's criminal fraternity, and few believe she would be able to lick them into submission or flash her dewy brown eyes to elicit a confession.
Instead, Momo, who weighs in at a mere 3kg, has become what is thought to be the first chihuahua — the world's smallest breed of dog — to qualify for police duty, as a search-and-rescue specialist.
The seven-year-old long-haired chihuahua — whose name means peach — was one of 32 out of 70 candidates employed by police in Nara prefecture, western Japan.
What she lacks in her ability to terrify suspects into submission she makes up for in her sense of smell: Momo passed the test by finding a “trapped” victim of a simulated natural disaster in less than five minutes, having only sniffed his hat moments earlier. Nara's prefectural police department operates an equal opportunities canine employment policy While she has yet to rescue a single soul, Momo has already won a place in the affections of this nation of dog-lovers. Television footage showed her bounding through the grass, her long coat swaying in the breeze. In January, Momo will get down to the more serious business of locating people buried under the rubble after earthquakes, squeezing into gaps inaccessible to bigger rescue dogs. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010