Sometimes referred to as the ‘World’s most loyal dog’, Hachiko, was an Akita that was born in 1923 in Japan. His owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, was a professor that worked in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. Each day Hachiko would accompany his master to the Shibuya train station where Professor Ueno would leave him to go to work. Each day this faithful dog would return to the station to greet his owner from work and they would walk home together.
One day in May, 1925 the pair started their routine as normal with Hachiko seeing his master off at the station. On this fateful day though, Professor Ueno would not return. Hachiko’s loving master suffered a fatal cerebral haemorrhage whilst giving a lecture and would never again come back to meet his beloved dog at the train station.
This is the point at which Hachiko’s famous story begins. Every day for the following nine years of the Akita’s life he returned to Shibuya Station in earnest to meet his master. He became well known to the travellers using the station and they rewarded his faithfulness by giving him treats and feeding him. He became so well loved that a statue of him was erected outside Shibuya Station in 1934, to honour him.
Hachiko was claimed by cancer in 1935 but his memory lives on. Each year people gather at the statue in Shibuya. He has been immortalised in books and films. You may know of the Film Hachi, which was based on his legend and is the biggest retelling of his story to the English-speaking world.
Hachiko epitomises the loyalty that dogs are synonymous with. He truly deserves his legendary status.
The tale of Gelert dates back to the 13th Century and took place in North Wales.
The story goes that Prince Llewelyn the Great kept a palace in Caernavanshire. He was a keen hunter and was often out with his hounds hunting in the hills and forests.
One fateful day the Prince set out on a hunt but when he sounded his horn to summon his dogs his favorite, Gelert didn't appear. Saddened but not deterred Llewelyn set off on his hunt.
Upon the Princes return, Gelert bounded toward his master to greet him. Blood dripped from the hounds jaws and unbidden, a horrific thought entered Llewelyn's mind. He had left his infant son at home in his crib and rushed to where he slept fearing the worst. The scene that greeted him when he entered the room filled him with dread. His son's crib was overturned and splattered with blood, the child was missing. Sure that his favorite dog had killed his baby, the Prince drew his sword and plunged it into Gelert's chest.
The dogs dying whimper was met by a cry of a different sort. The Prince righted the fallen crib to find his teary son safe and well underneath it. Behind it lay the body of a huge wolf. As realisation dawned on Llewelyn he was overcome by grief and remorse. The blood on Gelert had been from his battle with the wolf. A battle he fought to defend the Prince's son. A battle fought out of love and loyalty.
There are varying accounts of this tale but many say that a village was built around Gelert's grave, Beddgelert (a village that can be visited today). The grave forver marking the spot of this faithful hound. Some say the Prince never smiled again after killing his beloved hound.