Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Hachiko" Bronze Statue, Tokyo, Japan.
There are many accounts of the fidelity of dogs for their owners in peace and war, and sometimes their loyalty strikes a particular chord in its community. One poignant example began  in Tokyo, Japan, in 1924, when a stray Akita breed street-dog was adopted by university professor Hidesaburo Ueno, who commuted by train to his job. He named the dog "Hachiko" and it would would meet the professor at the end of his commute every day and walk him home.
The dog met the professor at the same Shibuya Train Station exit every weekday evening, and continued greeting him until a day in 1925, when the owner did not arrive back at his usual time.
The reason was that Ueno had died suddenly at work that day, though the dog obviously did not know. For the next nine years, Hachikō patiently met the same train, at the same station, at the same time, in the vain hope that his master would arrive to walk him home.
Soon, commuters who remembered seeing the professor and the dog walking together began to feed and care for Hachikō at his habitual place on the platform. When one of the professor’s students found out about the dog, he brought it to the attention of a local newspaper, which published the story.
The dog became a national sensation and symbolized the embodiment of Japan's cherished attribute of family loyalty. In 1934, a bronze statue in the dog's likeness was erected at Hachikō-guchi (as the Shibuya Station Exit was renamed in his honor) with Hachikō present at its unveiling.
The loyal dog's vigil ended in March, 1935, when he passed away in the street near the station exit, still awaiting his master. Such was his fame, that Hachiko was stuffed and mounted on display at Japan's National Museum of Nature & Science. The still-famous Akita's monument remains to this day as a reminder of the faithful love given by man's best friend.

[For centuries, the Akita was considered to be Japan's national dog. However, the breed was almost eradicated during World War Two, when they were officially ordered to be slaughtered to provide fur linings for military officers' coats. Only the efforts of one man, Morie Sawataishi, rescued the Akita from extinction, which is now a widely available prized dog again.]

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