Dogs are known for their loyalty but for one in Japan, his loyalty was the stuff of legend. In 1924, one professor took home a puppy, an Akita dog he called Hachiko. Unknown to the man, professor, Hidesaburō Ueno of the University of Tokyo, that moment was the beginning of a relationship that not even death could break.
For the next few years, Hachiko would wait for his master at the train station every day right at the moment the train was due to arrive. This was remarkable in itself, but what was even more remarkable was what happened next.
One day, as Ueno gave a lecture at the university, he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage which resulted in him collapsing and dying shortly. Back at the train station, Hachiko waited for his master but in vain. Astonishingly, the dog would return the following day to meet him, then the next day, until 9 years, 9 months and 15 days.
The dog was at first at odds with the people that ran the station but once they learned of his heart-warming story that appeared in the papers, they treated the dog with respect and even made sure that it got some food and treats while it waited.
One of the professor’s students took a particularly keen interest in Hachiko and publishes articles about the dog regularly. One of the articles grabbed the nation’s interest and this shot Hachiko into nationwide fame. Soon, the dog became a symbol of unwavering loyalty and was used as a teaching point for kids in schools on the subject of loyalty and being faithful.
Hachiko was found dead and post-mortem proved that the dog had cancer and other illnesses. But his death only fuelled his legend, with movies, sculptors and even a day set aside in his memory. The dog was cremated and his ashes were buried alongside his master’s.