People often use the word “loyal” to describe their pets, dogs especially. “Man’s best friend” has been a trusted and faithful companion for centuries to many people, but none quite so much as Hachiko, who became famous for his loyalty to his owner.
On a farm in Japan in the early 1920s, a litter of Akita dogs was born. Among the pups was Hachiko, who was taken by a professor at the University of Tokyo as a pet. For a year, the pair had a daily routine: the professor would go to the train station, Hachiko in tow, and leave for a day of work. When the train would return in the afternoons, Hachiko would be there waiting. One day, however, the professor did not return. At the age of 54, the professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away.
Even so, Hachiko did not change his daily routine. For nearly ten years after his owner died, he could be seen waiting at the train station at the exact time every day that the train was due to arrive. He waited until his death, but he was not alone for all that time. One of the professor’s students followed Hachiko home one day, and learned of his story. The student published a paper about Hachiko, and soon people began to bring him treats while he waited patiently for his master to return. The loyal Akita died of terminal cancer on the streets of Japan in 1935.
Hachiko’s story did not die along with him, however. He became a national symbol of loyalty in Japan and has been the inspiration behind many books and movies, and is referenced often in pop culture throughout the world. He even has a bronze statue build in his likeness at the very train station where he waited all those years ago, so he can continue his constant vigil.