I consider myself a dog lover. I grew up with Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Old Yeller and, of course, 101 Dalmations and Lady & The Tramp. And, along the way, I’ve met a few that I didn’t care for, but I can’t imagine my life without a dog – or two (currently three). But recently I watched a movie that touched me so deeply that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. It was the story of an Akita dog named Hachi.
As a puppy, Hachi was shipped from his native Japan to America, but was abandoned at a train station when his shipping crate fell off a baggage cart. Frightened and alone, he wandered back and forth until he was picked up by a man returning home from work. This kind man took Hachi home, but was greeted with disdain by his wife who did not want a dog. However, it soon became obvious that there was a strong bond between the man and this dog and his wife relented. It wasn’t long before Hachi learned that his new master left for work every day and took the train into the city. It also didn’t take him long to find ways to escape his fenced yard and make his way to the train station to await his masters return at the end of the day. This routine continued every day, no matter what the season or the weather. As his master emerged from the train station, Hachi would joyfully bound up to him and join him for the walk home.
What is so heart wrenching about this story is that after just a few years of companionship, his master suffered a heart attack and passed away. This, however, did not deter Hachi from his self appointed routine-he continued his daily vigil for nine years after his master died! Hachiko’s days were spent keeping vigil at the train station, anticipating the return of his master. His lonely nights were spent in a makeshift ‘nest’ under an abandoned train car. This was his life for nine years throughout all the seasons -spring, summer , fall and the cold of winter. One can only guess at the dedication of this dog, as day after day, at the sound of the train whistle, he made his way to the station and waited. Until one morning, at the sound of the whistle, he slowly walked to the station, took his place and crossing over the Rainbow Bridge, let go of his life and joined his adored master.
What is so amazing about this movie is that it is based on the true story of an Akita dog in Japan named Hachiko! I highly recommend the movie to anyone who has ever loved a dog and had that love returned unconditionally. BUT, I also admonish you to be prepared with a full box of tissues because I firmly believe that anyone who watches this movie –man, woman or child – will be moved to tears (the big, sobbing kind in my case).