Don't be fooled by the furry exterior: Some dogs aren't all what they seem. In fact, one isn't even a dog at all.
It's a conundrum making the rounds online after a Japanese man wearing a hyper-realistic collie outfit took a stroll outdoors and posted a YouTube video of the excursion, garnering more than 4.6 million views in the 10 days it's been online.
The footage was filmed last year for an interview with a German TV station according to the video description, and the dog/man, identified only as Toco, released it to the public this month after getting permission to post it.
The video under the account name "I want to be an animal" shows Toco getting pets around town while walking on four legs in the costume.
In a video posted last year, Toco said he had "a vague dream of becoming an animal" ever since he was a child and that he chose to become a collie because it's his favorite breed and is larger in size, comparable to a human.
This childhood dream prompted him to spend around $14,000 to have specialist costume company Zeppet create the outfit in 2022. The Japanese company is known for creating models and suits for films and commercials, but this was a custom, personal order, according to its website.
Zeppet's site also lists personal comments Toco made during and after the 40-day building process.
"I suppose creating a four-legged model for a two-legged human is extremely tricky, as our skeletal structure is quite different from canines," Toco said upon completion of the project. "I was therefore naturally worried about how it would turn out. After various trials and errors of the studio, however, the final result was brilliant and very satisfactory."
But despite the long-lived goal and its online virality, Toco still hopes to remain anonymous behind his animal persona.
In an interview with the Mirror, he said, "I rarely tell my friends because I am afraid they will think I am weird. My friends and family seemed very surprised to learn I became an animal."
And comments on the recent YouTube video seem to echo his fears. While some users were curious and supportive, others were concerned, with one user saying "I've worked with animals for 15 years now and this is the creepiest animal related thing I've ever seen."
Correction: A previous version of this story referred to the animal suit as a Border Collie, instead of just a collie.