Hachiko-the most loyal dog who ever lived....
The world we live in today is a world of fast times and sometimes, even faster friendships. People come and go out of each other's lives in a dizzying whirl, words spoken, faces forgotten. This is what makes it even easier to appreciate those friends who have lasted, those who are near and dear to us. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I believe that sometimes, our animal companions are the most dedicated and loyal out of any human companions - the unconditional love we receive from them knows no bounds. So when I came across a story of an Akita dog whose love for his master was limitless, I had to write about it. This is the story of that dog - the story of Hachiko.
In 1925, Professor Ueno Elizaburo walked every day to the station to take the train to his job at what is now known as Tokyo University. His dog Hachiko accompanied him every day to the station. Of course, he could not go with the Professor to his job but every day at 3:00, when the Professor returned to the station, Hachiko was waiting faithfully at the gates for him, come rain or shine.
On May 21 of that year, Professor Ueno died of a stroke whilst at work. Hachiko was at the station that day, waiting for his master to come home. On this day he waited, and waited. Did he know something was wrong? I often wonder if he knew in his mind that his master would not return. But did this stop Hachiko from going to the station everyday? The answer is a resounding no.
Every day, for nearly 10 years, Hachiko went to Shibuya station at 3:00 and sat in the same spot he always sat in, waiting. He would wait until the station closed. Professor Ueno's former gardner and the stationmaster understood what the dog was doing and fed him and gave him shelter. Soon word spread of this loyal dog. The Japanese culture is focused on family and loyalty. Hachiko was seen as a prime example of what humans should aspire to. People began travelling to see him, to feed him, or just to touch his head for luck. On March 7th, 1934, Hachiko was found dead on the platform where he had waited for the Professor for so long. He had continued his pilgramage, even when old age and arthritis began to make it more and more difficult.
Hachiko's death made the papers in Japan nationwide and a day of mourning was declared. Contributions from mourners all over were sent in and a statue was erected in memory of Hachiko by famed sculptor Andeo Teru - placed in the exact same spot where Hachiko had waited all those years. The statue was taken down and melted for the war effort to make weapons. The amazing thing is, after the war Andeo's son, Takeshi made another statue, which is in the same spot and stands to this day. Hachiko can also be seen stuffed in Japan's National Museum.
I often think, would a human have done this for anyone else? We all have the tendency to be a bit selfish in our lives. It's human nature. It's also human nature to move on, "get over it". Hachiko had to know that something was not right. Yet day after day after day, he waited for his master to come home. Akitas are known to sometimes be indifferent, to do their own thing, to not have the pack mentality. Yet this dog thought of nothing but waiting for his master, and even when he never showed, he continued his journey. How many of us would have given up? How many of us would have become angry - where is he? I'm not waiting for him again! I think that Hachiko really believed that his master would return and he didn't want to not be there for that homecoming. The unswerving loyalty of this dog has moved myself, and countless others, to tears.
I know people who think animals are stuipid, here for our entertainment, simple creatures who don't understand much. How wrong they are. When my husband goes on a business trip, one of our cats mourns until he comes back. Animals are not simple creatures. They are complex with a range of emotions just like ours. Simply because they cannot speak it to us doesn't mean those emotions are not there. I defy anyone to read the story of Hachiko and tell me otherwise. For me, Hachiko is a true hero who should be celebrated by all. Loyalty and love like that are very hard to find indeed.
Rest in peace, little Hachiko. You have taught us all a lesson about what unconditional love really is. If everyone acted in the manner that you have, what a wonderful world this would be.
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