There have been several heartbreaking stories in the media recently describing dogs who refused to leave the site of their loved ones’ tragic deaths, and who have risked their own lives to protect them. We have been reminded of the most infamously loyal dogs in history, and Hachiko the Akita’s is not the kind of story you forget.
In 1924, a man named Hidesaburō Ueno “adopted” the Akita, and Hachi forever remained by his human’s side. Each day he followed Ueno to the Shibuya Station in Tokyo to see him off to work (Ueno was an agriculture professor at Tokyo University), and remained until Ueno returned on his train. Like clockwork, everyday, they traveled together to and from the station.
Hachiko did this for almost a year until one day Ueno never made his train home. He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away while at work. For the next nine years, nine months, and fifteen days, Hachi showed up at the station at the exact time Ueno’s usual train arrived, hoping he would get off.
The Akita eventually died in 1935; scientists later discovered he had been stricken with terminal cancer and a heartworm infection. Commuters found him in the street, and his ashes now lie next to Ueno’s in a Tokyo cemetary.
A photo of Hachiko has resurfaced recently when a family discovered it in one of their father’s old photo albums. The man who took the photo, Isamu Yamamoto, frequently enjoyed snapping shots of Hachiko. It’s the only picture in existence depicting the dog as he really was—patient and content among the daily commuters, waiting for his human to return.
Takeshi Ando, a sculptor who created a statue based on the rare image, had this to say on the furry subject:
Hachiko blended in with the area around the station [in the photo] and this is just what I saw at that time. I have never looked at such a photo that caught the atmosphere of Hachiko’s everyday life at that time so well.
The exact spot where Hatchi sat each day is now marked by gold paw prints and a message about his unfailing loyalty, but we don’t need these things to keep his memory alive. This dog was everything that makes dogs great, and we will celebrate him always.