Friday, March 8, 2019

Today is International Akita day

Mourning Hachi at the train station

Today, March 8th, is the anniversary of the death of Hachi, the faithful Akita who became a symbol of loyalty worldwide. Hachi had a happy life from the time he was adopted as a puppy by professor Isaburo Ueno, who loved him as though he were his own child.

Happier times - baby Hachi in 1923
After Ueno suddenly died of a stroke at the university, Hachi spent the next decade of his life mourning for his guardian, his protector, and the love of his life, continually returning to the train station where he'd last seen him.

Hachi watches and waits for Ueno, who will never return
Hachi was a gentle dog, and a peacemaker. He never started a fight, but it was said that, when forced to fight, he never lost. When he saw one dog attacking another, he would stand between the attacker and victim, and if the attacker persisted, Hachi would make him stop. Hachi was respected by the other dogs who came around the station. If dogs started fighting over scraps of food left over from the stands around the station, they would immediately stop when Hachi walked over.

Little known fact about Hachi: He had descendants, but sadly, none of them were pure Akita. His only known offspring were the result of his mating with a Fox Terrier named Debbie. One can only imagine how valuable Hachi's descendants would be today.

Professor Ueno's widow, Yae, recalls a bittersweet memory:
"Every episode of Hachi is unforgettable for me. But the most unforgettable one was the pathetic way Hachi acted when Ueno died. When we put Ueno’s bedding into the outdoor storage, Hachi sniffed out the smell of Ueno there. He went inside the storage and did not come out for a few days. I felt almost heartbroken to find Hachi cuddling in Ueno’s futon. Then, when we were conducting Ueno’s wake in the living room on the “seventh” night after his death, Hachi suddenly pushed the glass–sliding door open and came inside the living room. He then walked toward Ueno’s coffin and crawled under it. He lay down there, as if he had found an eternal place to rest, with his head down and his legs stretched out. He refused to move from there no matter how hard we tried. Observing how deeply Hachi missed Ueno, everyone present shed tears. Now, everything has become only a fond memory. I am unbearably sad, not being able to see Hachi at Shibuya Station any longer. He always greeted me affectionately."
People who knew Hachi noted that he always seemed to be sad. He didn't have it easy after Ueno's death. Although there were people who loved him, he was sometimes mistreated. On one occasion, when Hachi was asleep under the stairway at the train station in the winter, an employee threw a basin of water on him to make him leave.

Hachi's sorrows ended on March 8th 1935, when he was reunited with Ueno in the ethereal realms.

References -
The last photo of faithful dog Hachiko breaks our hearts

Hachiko: Solving 20 mysteries about the most famous dog in Japan
Japanese Movie - Hachiko Monogatari [Japan DVD] DA-5853

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