Man is a dog’s best friend

I’ve seen Richard Gere fall in love with Julia Roberts, Debra Winger and Diane Lane countless times but I’ve never seen him fall in love with an Akita dog. After seeing “Hachiko: A Dog’s Story,” I vote for the dog as his best leading lady (oops, I mean man, since “Hachi” is a boy dog.)

I was skeptical I’d like the movie when David first told me about the plot (man accidentally meets dog and they fall in love), but barely three minutes into it, I was hooked.  By the end, I was in tears.

The 2009 film is based on a true story about the friendship between the dog and his owner, a professor at the University of Tokyo.  Now a legend among Japanese, a pet-loving country that honors self-sacrificing loyalty, it was made into a Japanese movie in 1987.

Gere is a music professor who finds his Akita puppy wandering in the train depot when he returns from work one evening. After making a fuss about keeping him, the professor’s wife gives in when she sees how attached man and dog have become in a short time. When his master leaves for work the first day, Hachi digs his way out of the backyard and runs to the train station.  The bond becomes stronger from then on.

The first 65 percent of the film is charming and heart warming; but two thirds through, the professor dies suddenly of a heart attack, and the tears begin.  Hachi waits every day at the train station for his owner.  Even when the professor’s (now-grown) daughter takes him home to live with her family, Hachi runs away and finds the station.

The real Hachi

He returns to the station every day for 10 years, at precisely the same time. People start to feed him and donate money for his care. (The real Hachi died in 1935, at exactly the spot were he waited for a decade. People were so moved they built a statue of him at the Shibuya Station, which has become a popular gathering spot. The original statue was melted down and recycled during World War II. It was replaced after the war by the original sculptor’s son.)

“This is a love story,” Gere said. “It has nothing to do with gender or species.” That’s for sure. We should all be lucky enough to have a love like this.



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4 Responses to “Man is a dog’s best friend”

  1. Tina says:

    I did not know this story was made into a film in 09. I am happy to read about this though. I remember hearing about this story on tv, and believe it or not my family talks about this story ever since we heard of it a few years back. We are dog lovers!! Without a doubt, we do much for our 4 legged friends. The devoted dog!! The love between them!! We should all be like that to one another. Maybe we would be able to show our sincere side in all human kind and learn a thing or two. Great story!!!

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  2. Shellie Robin says:

    Geri — I watched this DVD and I too, cried as soon as Hachi’s master died…I am a sucker for animal stories. This was one of the sweetest movies I’ve watched and to know it’s true. The dog actors did a fabulous job — moreso than the human actors! After watching this movie, I decided I want an Akita! Although too busy now in life for a dog, the Akita breed is at the top of my “most wanted dog” list! Again — so amazing that this film was based on a true story from over 75 years ago…
    Shellie

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  3. Toby Wollin says:

    Wow – Greyfrier’s Bobby Meets Japan. I once worked with a guy who had an Akita, and who had to bring him to work (otherwise, the dog would destroy the house). I have never known a dog like this but I have been told that the breed was selected for these characteristics because they were used as temple guard dogs: Extreme attention and focus to detail, extreme attachment to their family or caregiver. This particular dog used to walk ‘guard duty’ constantly, checking on every office and cubicle. If the person whose office/cubicle was missing (out for the day or in another meeting or place), the dog used to wander over the entire building until he located the person. If he could not, you’d literally have to get down to his level, look him in the eye and have a conversation such as “so and so is not here today; she will be back tomorrow – everything is ok. ” or, “so and so is out of the office at meetings; he’ll be back after lunch.” During this period, I had surgery to repair my hand, so I had this big bandage on my hand and my arm – I definitely looked completely different and could not behave the way I usually did (could only use one hand on the computer, etc.). This seemed to disturb the dog tremendously until I got down, let him ‘smell’ the arm and told him that I’d been hurt but that I would get better. This seemed to cheer him up immensely and he went off on his rounds again. The story of Hachi does not surprise me at all.

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    • Tina says:

      Your story of the Akita dog that you have experienced, reminds me of my Chinese Shar-Pei that I had for 12 years. His breed was a guard dog back in China, unfortunately most of the breed was diminished, 8 or 12 dogs were saved and rescued to come to America back in the 70’s. I was lucky to have had him in my life, this dog was myguard dog, he mad a fuss over me every time he would see me and most of all he would sit outside our house on the deck and watch out for the house and us. He would nibble at your wrist to let you know he loves you and every day he would speak I love you in his dog moan. I would talk to him like he was one of us and believe me they understand English. Great dog to have, they get a bad reputation just the PitBull,( that’s my other dog) just because of people’s ignorance. Great story you have!

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