Hachikō (Nov 10, 1923 – Mar 8, 1935)
Hachiko was a Japanese Akita dog remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, for whom he continued to wait for over nine years following Ueno’s death.
Hachikō was born on a farm near the city of Ōdate. In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor at the Tokyo Imperial University, brought him to live in Shibuya, Tokyo. Hachikō would meet Ueno at Shibuya Station every day after his commute home. This continued until May 21, 1925, when Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage while at work.
From then until his death on March 8, 1935, Hachikō would return to Shibuya Station every day to await Ueno’s return.
Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. After the first appearance of an article about him in Asahi Shimbun on Oct 4, 1932, people started to bring Hachikō treats and food during his wait.
One of Ueno’s students, Hirokichi Saito, who developed expertise on the Akita breed, saw the dog at the station and followed him to the home of Ueno’s former gardener, Kozaburo Kobayashi, where he learned the history of Hachikō’s life. He returned frequently to visit Hachikō, and over the years he published several articles about the dog’s remarkable loyalty. In 1932, one of his articles, published in Asahi Shimbun, placed the dog in the national spotlight.
His faithfulness to his master’s memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of loyalty to which all should strive to achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachikō’s vigil as an example for children to follow.
After his death, Hachikō’s remains were cremated and his ashes were buried in Aoyama Cemetery, Minato, Tokyo where they rest beside those of Hachikō’s beloved master, Professor Ueno.
In Apr 1934, a bronze statue based in his likeness sculpted by Teru Ando was erected at Shibuya Station. The statue was recycled for the war effort during World War II.
In 1948, Takeshi Ando (Teru’s son) made a second statue. The new statue, which was erected in Aug 1948, still stands and is a popular meeting spot. The station entrance near this statue is named “Hachikō-guchi,” meaning “The Hachikō Entrance.”
A similar statue stands in Hachikō’s hometown, in front of Ōdate Station, it was built in 1932. The featured photo for today’s blog entry is a statue of Hachiko greeting his master at the University of Tokyo’s campus.
Each year on Mar 8, Hachikō’s devotion is honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Shibuya Station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honor his memory and loyalty.
Hachikō is also the subject of a 2004 children’s book entitled Hachikō: The True Story of a Loyal Dog, written by Pamela S. Turner and illustrated by Yan Nascimbene.
Another children’s book, a short novel for readers of all ages called Hachiko Waits, written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Machiyo Kodaira, was published by Henry Holt & Co. in 2004.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, released in August 2009, is an American movie starring actor Richard Gere, about Hachikō and his relationship with an American professor & his family following the same basic story. The movie was filmed in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, primarily in and around the Woonsocket Depot Square area and also featured Joan Allen and Jason Alexander. The role of Hachi was played by three Akitas: Leyla, Chico, and Forrest.
Shep (1936 – Jan 12, 1942)
Shep was the name given to a herding dog that appeared at the Great Northern Railway station one day in 1936 in Fort Benton, Montana, and watched as his deceased master’s casket was loaded onto the train. The dog remained at the station, waiting for his master to return for the next five and a half years.
The dog once belonged to an unknown sheep herder near Fort Benton, Montana. When his owner became ill in Aug 1936, he went into St. Clare Hospital at Fort Benton for treatment, and brought his herding dog with him. A few days later he died, and his relatives back east sent for his body.
The dog followed his casket to the railroad station and watched while it was being loaded on a train heading east. He would greet every train that arrived each day after that, expecting his master to return. It took station employees some time to realize that the body in the casket was probably the dog’s master, and it was showing up for each incoming train to see if his master would be getting off.
The dog was later given the name Shep and the station employees took care of him while Shep lived in and around the station, becoming well known to everyone who passed through.
A few years into his time at the station, Shep and his story was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Shep kept this daily vigil for almost six years until he was run over by a train on Jan 12, 1942. A few days later, Shep’s funeral was attended by nearly everyone in Fort Benton. Boy Scout Troop 47, who were the pallbearers and honor guard for Shep, helped carry his coffin to the dog’s grave on a lonely bluff overlooking the town. The Great Northern Railroad put up a simple obelisk, with a painted wooden cutout of Shep next to it. Just beneath, white stones spelled out SHEP. Lights illuminated the display at night.
The passenger line eventually stopped coming through Fort Benton, and the grave fell into disrepair. In 1988, the grave was repaired and refurbished. The Shep cutout is now painted steel, and lights are back up. The grave site is currently maintained by the Kiwanis Key Club and Ft. Benton Community Improvement Society.
Shep’s story is retold as historical fiction in Shep Forever Faithful by Stewart H. Beveridge and Lee Nelson.