A short but sweet time together saves the animal’s life.

On the afternoon of May 1, Japanese Twitter user @marcy_com was on National Route 275 in the town of Tsukigata in Japan’s Hokkaido Prefecture, when he noticed something by the side of the road. It wasn’t a shiny 100-yen coin or a pretty flower that caught his eye, though, but this tiny creature.

Figuring he’d found a runaway puppy, he took it home with him and posted the following tweet, hoping to reunite the animal with its owners, and asking anyone who might recognize the animal to contact them.

▼ “I rescued this puppy from the side of Route 275 in Tsukigatacho at around 2:30 p.m. It was a little past the 7-Eleven on the way to Sapporo (right before the traffic light).”

While no one had any ideas about who the owners might be, several commenters praised @marcy_com’s kindness. Many also complimented the pup’s cuteness, but a number of dissenters disagreed…not with the idea that he animal was cute, but with the theory that it was a dog, leaving comments like:

“That’s a cute…dog?”
“That’s dog’s face reminds me of a tanuki.”
“You sure it’s not a tanuki?”
“Is that a dog? It looks more like a fox to me.”
“I think that might be a fox cub.”

What’s more, while the exact sound @marcy_com’s new animal friend makes is hard to describe, it’s not what you’d call barking.

And sure enough, it turned out that what @marcy_com found isn’t a dog at all, but a fox, or kitsune, as they’re called in Japanese! Since foxes aren’t kept as pets in Japan, that explained why no owners had been found since @marcy_com tweeted about the roadside encounter.

However, just because the animal wasn’t a pet doesn’t mean it wasn’t in need of help. The female fox cub is only a month or two old, far below the age when it would be out foraging for food by itself. It’s unknown what became of the fox’s mother, but she wasn’t around to take care of her, and the cub is too young to fend for herself.

Unfortunately, no matter how caring and hospitable @marcy_com may be, permanently cohabitating with the animal isn’t an option. Japanese foxes often carry harmful echinococcus parasites which can spread to humans without proper zoological care, so @marcy_com had to find a new home for the cub, and he did just that by taking her to Kita Kitsune Bokujo (“North Fox Farm”), a fox sanctuary in the Hokkaido town of Kitami, where she can live happily and safely.

▼ Outside the entrance to Kita Kitsune Bokujo stands a torii (Shinto shrine gate)

But they he had to say good-bye, @marcy_com got to leave his brief companion with a permanent reminder of their time together. The “Tsuki” in “Tsukigata,” the town where @marcy_com found the fox, means “moon” in Japanese. So to commemorate their meeting, @marcy_com named the cub Luna, which is what the Kita Kitsune Bokujo staff now calls her too.

“When it was time for me to go home, Luna was cuddled up with other foxes her own age and sleeping,” reports @marcy_com. “If you can someday pay her a visit, I’d be happy,” he continues, and hopefully he’ll get to go bac and check up on her from time to time too.

Related: Kita Kitsune Bokujo
Source: Twitter/@marcy_com via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Twitter/@marcy_com
Insert images: Twitter/@marcy_com (1, 2)
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