HACHIKO - MORE THAN A LEGEND
Hachiko is not the only devoted dog the
world has known but his story is one of the most famous because
many countries shared in Japan's tribute to man's best friend.
There are breeds of more ancient history, those with a more
genetically pure background, and many have an equally fascinating
history. There is
however, no breed possessed of more character, loyalty, and
cultural significance than the Akita dog and Hachiko exemplifies
these qualities even today.
character of the breed was exemplified in a dog known simply as
Hachi-Ko. The big
fawn dog was a familiar figure at Shibuya station. His owner, professor Uneo, commuted daily to Tokyo
escorted him to the train station every morning, returning each
evening to meet his beloved master.
commuters took the dog's daily presence for granted but when his
master suffered a heart attack in May of 1925, they were
immeasurably saddened by the plight of the faithful dog.
No doubt, many wished for a way to tell the dog that his
master would never again arrive on the train because every day,
the big Akita met the train and watched hopefully as the
passengers stepped down from the train.
Hachiko's disappointment was painful to watch and they took pity
on the dog as he became more depressed.
brought him food and the station master provided a soft bed, but
Hachi-Ko took no comfort in their attentions.
Professor Ueno's former gardener took the dog in but it was
not Hachi-Ko's home and he spent
more and more time at the station. Dr. Itagaki, a veterinarian and good friend of professor Uneo,
provided medical attention as required.
Hachi-Ko grew older.
1932 the press had picked up his story and a bronze statue was
commissioned in honor of his fidelity.
The Society for the Preservation of Japanese Dogs unveiled
the statue of Hachiko in April of 1934.
Shibuya Station commuters and onlookers were impressed, but
the old dog was not. He
died the following year at eleven, not old for an Akita but Hachiko was very old, too lonely for too many years.
the war broke out a decade later, the huge bronze statue was
melted down and converted into munitions.
Sadly, the area where it had stood was devastated by
bombing raids. When
the war ended, the courage and loyalty of Hachi-Ko became a
national symbol. School
children saved their coins and wrote letters about the famous dog.
Little by little, funds were raised.
The son of the original sculptor was located and he agreed
to erect a new statue of Hachi-Ko.
Commuters approved. The
world was still dealing with the tragedy of war but somehow, the
fact that Hachi-Ko was "home again" brought some measure
of reassurance that all would be right with the world.
watchful statue became a meeting place for businessmen and held
significance for lovers. It
was in fact, young students of Tokyo University who finally
realized that something wasn't right.
There was one more thing that must be done in order that
Hachi-Ko might finally be at peace.
In 1983 the students carried a bust of Professor Ueno from
the school and placed it next to the statue of Hachi-Ko .
Man and dog were finally reunited and in the respectful and
simple ceremony, a story of undying loyalty received a postscript.
Hachi-Ko was happy.
 Photo by Meg Purnell-Carpenter
/ excerpted from World Of The Akita by
Barbara J. Andrews