Hachiko was a dog in 1930’s Japan who was found by a kindly music professor who hadn’t been looking for a canine companion, least of all a puppy. Nevertheless the two forged an enduring friendship. Each day the man would walk to the train accompanied by Hachi (as he soon came to be called) and each evening the loyal Akita would be waiting for him as he exited from the station. This went on for about a year until the evening came when the professor did not return on the train.
How do you explain to a dog that his person has suffered an aneurysm of the brain and collapsed in his class and eventually passed on in the hospital never to return again? The professor’s family brought the dog home from the station but he always returned to wait for his friend. Finally they gave up. For the next nine years until he died Hachi waited for the professor at exactly the right time of day without fail. He lived on the streets, in the back end of the rail yard and generally got along as best a dog could on his own. He survived on the kindness of those who were sensitive to his plight.
He inspired all who learned of his story. Newspapers wrote about him. People came to speak of that train station as his and it became an auspicious place to meet. In fact when he died a statue was created and placed at the station to commemorate this dog and his unfailing loyalty. It is there still and people still meet there for luck.
You can see a nice version of this story as a movie. It’s called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Have a beach towel sized hankie ready though. Yes, you’ll cry, but it’s worth it.
What to make of this loyalty? Was his a life wasted? After all the professor never did return. Or was this a being so dedicated to his purpose, to this love and remembrance of his friend that this was no waste. There was no time lost. Every minute he waited was a minute spent in purpose. On purpose.
That is the inspiration I choose from the loyalty of this dog. To know my purpose and to pursue it regardless of any external factor. Be dogged, actually.
Watch the movie or even just google Hachiko. There are some nice photos of Hachiko on some of his Wikipedia entries.
Though in recent years much progress has been made throughout the field of animal behavior or animal ethology where the concept of animals having and expressing emotions is becoming more of an accepted notion there are still those who might take issue with a dog’s ability to express concepts like ‘loyalty’ or ‘love’. Questions:
- Where do you stand on the issue?
- Have you experienced either of these two emotions from a dog or other animal?
- How did the animal make such emotions known to you?
Using plasticine clay (brand name Sculpey or Fimo) make a little sculpture to memorialize an animal or a concept near and dear to your heart. Place it somewhere you are sure to see it each day.