There are plenty of stories of loyal dogs who stood vigil for dead masters for years afterward. Among the most well-known loyal dogs were Hachiko, from Japan, and Greyfriars Bobby, from Scotland.
In 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, took a pure breed Akita dog as a pet and named him Hachi. Hachi is the word for number eight in Japanese, which is considered a lucky number.
Hachi used to follow professor Ueno to Shibuya Station every morning where the professor would take the train to work. In the afternoon, the dog would pick him up at the station to go home together.
One morning in May 1925, Hachi accompanied professor Ueno to the Station as always, but Ueno wouldn’t return that afternoon. He suffered a brain hemorrhage at the university and passed away. Not aware of his owner’s passing, Hachi kept returning to Shibuya Station every day for nearly 10 years to wait for him.
People tried to take Hachiko in, but he kept breaking free to go to Shibuya Station. Finally, he settled in the home of Ueno’s former gardener close to Shibuya Station. However, this didn’t stop him from going to Shibuya Station every day at precisely the time his owner would normally return.
The station staff and some residents weren’t happy about the stray dog lurking around the station and tried to chase him away many times. But nothing could stop Hachi from returning every day to wait for his master.
He became famous after one of professor Ueno’s former students heard of Hachi’s story and wrote about him. Hachi was even designated a national icon of loyalty after his story was published in the early 1930s. People added the “ko” (A word expressing affection) to his name in recognition of his loyalty. He is nowadays known as Hachiko.
Hachiko ended up waiting for his owner every day for nearly ten years until his passing in March 1935.
Respect, salute and much love to dear Hachiko. We hope Hachiko has found professor Ueno in heaven and they are happily reunited.
Hachiko and Greyfriars Bobby have had numerous books and even films made about them (Hachiko was an Akita and Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier).
Story of Greyfriars Bobby
To keep him company through the long winter nights John took on a partner, a diminutive Skye Terrier, his watchdog called Bobby.
John and Bobby became a familiar sight trudging through the old cobbled streets of Edinburgh. Through thick and thin, winter and summer, they were always together as faithful friends.
The years on the streets appear to have taken their toll on John, as he was treated by the Police Surgeon for tuberculosis.
John eventually died of the disease on the 15th February 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. Bobby soon touched the hearts of the local residents when he refused to leave his master’s grave, even in the worst weather conditions.
The gardener and keeper of Greyfriars tried on many occasions to evict Bobby from the Kirkyard. In the end he gave up and provided a shelter for Bobby by placing sacking beneath two tablestones at the side of John Gray’s grave.
Bobby’s fame spread throughout Edinburgh. It is reported that almost on a daily basis the crowds would gather at the entrance of the Kirkyard waiting for the one o’clock gun that would signal the appearance of Bobby leaving the grave for his midday meal.
Bobby would follow William Dow, a local joiner and cabinet maker to the same Coffee House that he had frequented with his now dead master, where he was given a meal.
In 1867 a new bye-law was passed that required all dogs to be licensed in the city or they would be destroyed. Sir William Chambers (The Lord Provost of Edinburgh) decided to pay Bobby’s licence and presented him with a collar with a brass inscription “Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed”. This can be seen at the Museum of Edinburgh.
The kind folk of Edinburgh took good care of Bobby, but still he remained loyal to his master. For fourteen years the dead man’s faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872.
Baroness Angelia Georgina Burdett-Coutts, President of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA, was so deeply moved by his story that she asked the City Council for permission to erect a granite fountain with a statue of Bobby placed on top.
William Brody sculptured the statue from life, and it was unveiled without ceremony in November 1873, opposite Greyfriars Kirkyard. And it is with that, that Scotland’s Capital city will always remember its most famous and faithful dog.
Bobby’s headstone reads “Greyfriars Bobby – died 14th January 1872 – aged 16 years – Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all”.
Much love and respect to Bobby. We hope Bobby and John are now happily reunited in heaven.
But the loyal dog who was most famous during his own lifetime is probably the least well-known. Fido.
Fido was born in Italy sometime during World War II. He was found on the verge of death by a kiln worker who took him home and nursed him back to health. And for this, he’d have Fido’s unwavering loyalty for the rest of his life. Every day, Fido waited for his master at the same bus stop, refusing to move until he stepped off the bus – and this at a time when Italy was being bombed almost daily. But one day, Fido’s master didn’t return. He’d been killed in an air raid while at work. Fido, ever vigilant, still turned up to wait for him. Every day. For 14 years!
His tale spread across Italy until Fido became a constant source of media attention, both during the war and long after it ended. Surviving footage shows that huge crowds would turn up to watch him make his way to the bus stop every day, watch everyone get off, then walk away disappointed when the bus pulled off. He received honors and medals, but all he wanted was for his friend to come home. He never did.
Don’t worry—it’s okay to cry.