I know many of you lovely readers have dogs and love them dearly, as so do they love you . But I am going to tell you a true story about a dog that loved his owner so much that it is heartbreaking and has become a legend.
Eisaburo Ueno was a resident of Shibuya in West Central Tokyo and worked as a Professor at the Department of Agriculture at the Imperial University ( now the University of Tokyo). His story begins on the 10th January 1924 when he was given a young puppy, as he was a great lover of dogs.
This little puppy was an Akita that he named Hachiko and he grew up to being a big dog, weighing 90lbs. He had a light yellow fur coat with a tail that curled to the left. Man and dog adored each other and hated being apart.
Every morning, Professor Ueno would set off around 9am to go to the local train station to travel to the Dept of Agriculture or the Ministry of Agriculture in Nishigahara. Hachiko would always trot beside him to the station and after seeing his master on to the train, he would return home.
Then around 6pm, off he would go again, back to Shibuya station to meet his Professor, waiting by the ticket gate to meet and greet his master. This daily routine never changed and all the locals were in awe of the closeness of man and dog.
But, just 16 months later, the most terrible thing happened. On 21st May, 1925, Professor Ueno was in a faculty meeting when he had a stroke and died immediately. His body was brought home to his village for his wake. The story goes that Hachiko went into the parlour where his body was laid out and spent the night laying by his master’s side.
After the funeral, something had to be done about Hachiko and it was decided he would go and live with relatives of the Professor in Asakusa, the Eastern part of Tokyo. But he constantly ran away and returned to his old home in Shibuya. This went on for a year until the gardener to the Professor said he would keep Hachiko with him, as he had known him since a puppy.
But still Hachiko kept running back to his old home and also visiting Shibuya Station every day, morning and night, as he used to do when his master was alive. He was seen searching the station daily for Professor Ueno until he got hungry and had to go and find food.
The local residents watched this weekly, soon becoming yearly, routine of Hachiko’s and it broke their hearts.
One of them sent this sad story, with photographs, to the Asahi Shinbun, a major newspaper, where it was published in September 1932.
Before long, Hachiko had become a national celebrity and made guest appearances at Nippo Dog Shows. Then picture postcards and figurines of Hachiko were produced for sale.
But all this attention never wavered Hachiko and his visiting the train station every day, although he was not in good health.
In 1929, Hachiko contracted a severe case of mange, from which he nearly died. He had become thin and battle scarred from fights with other local dogs. He recovered and returned to keeping up his twice daily vigil at the station, but then he was found to be suffering from heart-worms that took their toll on him.
On 8th March 1935, Hachiko died in a side street to the station. He had daily waited, and pined, for his loving Professor for over nine years. The national newspapers showed articles about his death and too many people around the country shed a tear for this wonderful dog.
He was eventually reunited with Professor Ueno because his bones were buried in the corner of the grave of his master. His coat was preserved and a stuffed replica of Hachiko can be seen in the National Science Museum at Veno.
A year before Hachiko had died, in April 1934, a beautiful bronze statue of him was erected in front of the ticket office of Shibuya Station. It had been created by the famous sculptor, Tern Ando, and had a poem engraved on a placard that was titled “Lines to a Loyal Dog”. Too many people, including the family of the professor, attended the grand unveiling of the statue and found it a fitting tribute to Man and his Dog.
Unfortunately, when the second world war was in force, the statue was melted down in April 1944, as the bronze was a valuable commodity.
But happily, in 1948, the son of the original sculptor, Takeshi Ando, created a replica of his father’s famous statue of Hachiko. It still can be seen today, standing outside the ticket office of Shibuya Station as a tribute to the most wonderful, loyal and loving dog, Hachiko.
I am sure you will agree that this is truly the most amazing and sad story of Man and his Dog, but at least Hachiko joined his Master at the end of his days.
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