Hachikō and the Professor Together Again

New Hachiko and Professor Ueno Sculpture

There’s a brand new statue of Hachikō, but this one is even better because in it he is reunited once again with his master Professor Ueno. It captures such a happy moment, the one that was repeated each day at the train platform when the professor returned from his day at the university…until the very sad day when he suddenly passed away. That day marked the beginning of nine years that Hachikō continued to wait without fail.

Detail shots of the new Hachiko and Professor Ueno statue in Japan

I think this new statue is super, because this is what we all wanted to see…the two together. Even as an artist’s interpretation, it’s exactly as it should be: bright smiles, kind eyes upon each other, a briefcase set down while Professor Ueno’s complete attention is given to faithful Hachikō before beginning the walk home from the station. Captured in bronze, it crystallizes the moment and triumphs the sad solo Hachikō.

Hachiko and Professor Ueno statue in Japan

If you’d like to visit the new Hachikō statue, you can find it at The University of Tokyo campus for the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences/Faculty of Agriculture, website here.

Photos courtesy and original story from Rocket News 24 can be found here.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Hachikō visits Montréal

Hachiko in Montreal

The Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal 2013 is taking place this summer at the Montréal Botanical Gardens and I’m so glad someone had the brilliant idea to create who else but—Hachikō! If you’re not familiar with this event, it’s similar to Pasadena’s Rose Parade held each New Year’s Day here in America, except the sculptures aren’t floating and bobbing down Colorado Boulevard. And the horticultural artists seem to use more leafy plants versus flowers. Each one has a cultural theme that stems (oops, a plant pun) from the artist’s country of origin. There is also a catalog of plants that must be followed in your design.

Hachiko in Montreal

I think they did a great job with Hachikō. Besides capturing his classic pose, they also recreated the platform at the train station where he would wait each day for his owner to return. (For background information on Hachikō, here is my post with his story.)

Hachiko on Platform, Montreal

Another dog that made it into the show is this one, companion of Elzéard Bouffier who was the main character in the tale The Man Who Planted TreesL’homme Qui Plantait des Arbres by French author Jean Giono. The story is about a man who reforests a valley in the foothills of the Alps in Provence throughout the first half of the 20th century, so this was a great choice for the exhibit. An animated short of the story by Frédéric Back was released in 1987 and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, I would love to see it.

The Man Who Planted Trees

Of course there are many more amazing sculptures on display with all kinds of animals prominent in the theme. Below are examples from Montreal, Okinawa, Shanghai and Madagascar.

Montreal Botanical GardensOkinawa at the Montreal Botanical GardensShanghai at the Montreal Botanical GardensMadagascar at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

If you will be visiting Montreal before September 29, why not spend a few hours checking out these beautiful sculptures? Here is the event website for more information.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.

Photos courtesy Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal 2013 and flickr.

Faithful Friend Ciccio

Maria and Ciccio

Maria Margherita Lochi was known in her town of San Donaci, Italy for her kindness in looking after and adopting stray dogs and cats. One of her adopted dogs, a 12-year-old German Shepherd mix named Ciccio, was found in a soccer field near her home and is now carrying on his own vigil for Maria since she passed away two months ago. Is Ciccio Italy’s own Hachikō?

Ciccio used to attend Mass services with Maria for years on a regular basis at the church of Santa Maria Assunta, and according to the parish priest he has always been welcome in the church and would sit quietly at Maria’s feet. On the day of her funeral, Ciccio followed her casket into the church and each day since when the bell rings to begin Mass he arrives and sits at the altar.

Ciccio at the altar

According to the Daily Mail, Father Donato Panna said: “He’s there every time I celebrate Mass and is very well behaved—he doesn’t make a sound, I’ve not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in.”

“He’s still coming to Mass even after Maria’s funeral, he waits patiently by the side of the altar and just sits there quietly. I didn’t have the heart to throw him out—I’ve just recently lost my own dog so I leave him there until Mass finishes and then I let him out.”

People in the village are providing food and water for Ciccio, and for now he sleeps in a covered area near the church. The priest is hoping to find a home for him soon…but I’m hoping he adopts him and allows Ciccio to remain a parishioner at the church of Santa Maria Assunta. In any case, thanks to massive publicity and a Facebook fan page created by Maria’s son, it appears that there have been many offers across Italy to give Ciccio a warm, safe home very soon.

Also: Ciccio seems to have another name, which is “Tommy”, and news reports use both. Details from the Daily Mail, and Sud Italia News. Photos from Ciccio’s Facebook fan page.

UPDATE February 11, 2013: I follow the story of Ciccio, or Tommy, on Facebook and it appears that Maria’s son Sebastian now has custody of him. Sadly, Tommy is very ill right now at a vet clinic and it is feared that he may not survive. I’m not sure what the cause is, but they are saying that because he is now around 13 years old combined with the heartbreak of losing Maria, the sadness has taken its toll. I will post an update here if I get any further news.

Capitán : Argentina’s Hachikō

Capitan standing watch in the cemetery

The story of Japan’s Hachikō is one of the most touching tales about the eternal bond between man and dog around (if you’re not familiar with the story, you can read my post here). It’s also the most popular post I’ve featured here on Dogs Make Everything Better, having been viewed by thousands of people the world over. So I thought I’d share this incredible story that I’d read about a few months ago because it’s very similar. But unlike the tale of Hachikō and Professor Ueno that took place many decades ago, this story is taking place right now.

It’s 2005 in the small town of Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina and a man named Miguel Guzman adopts a German Shepherd mix dog named Capitán as a gift for his son Damian. When Mr. Guzman suddenly passes away the following year the family notices that when they returned from the funeral service, Capitán had disappeared. But soon they saw him again.

“We searched for him, but he had vanished,” widow Veronica Guzman told the newspaper La Voz. “We thought he must have got run over and died. The following Sunday we went to the cemetery, and Damian recognized his pet. Capitán came up to us, barking and wailing as if he were crying.”

Capitan at the cemetery

But get this: the truly amazing thing is that Capitán had never been to the cemetery, or the gravesite. According to cemetery director Hector Baccega: “He turned up here one day, all on his own, and started wandering all around the cemetery until he eventually found the tomb of his master. During the day he sometimes has a walk around the cemetery, but always rushes back to the grave. And every day, at six o’clock sharp, he lies down on top of the grave, stays there all night.” Mr. Baccega added that the cemetery staff now care for and feed Capitán as he maintains his steadfast vigil.

Damian Guzman says that the family has tried several times to bring Capitán back home, but each time he disappears and returns to the cemetery. “I think he’s going to be there until he dies, too. He’s looking after my dad,” he said.


All photos La Voz.

Japan’s Beloved Hachikō

Hachiko statue, Tokyo

I suppose that by now most people are well acquainted with the story of Japan’s famous Akita Hachikō, but how can a blog titled Dogs Make Everything Better not include it? It must! First of all, it’s a true story. Second, it has to be the number one example of a dog’s fierce loyalty to his friend and the powerful bond that can exist between dog and man. And third, Hachikō is especially the winner now that the tale of Edinburgh’s poor little Greyfriar’s Bobby has been pretty much debunked. Boy, what a dagger that was!

For those of you that don’t know about Hachikō, here’s the story. By the way, there is a movie that was released in 2010 directed by Lasse Hallström called Hachi starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen, but it’s loosely based on the true story. The 1987 Japanese film Hachi-kō is the real deal and I’m hoping to see it soon. Um, with subtitles.

The story begins in Tokyo in 1924. A professor at Tokyo University by the name of Hidesaburō Ueno acquired Hachikō to be his dog, a golden brown Akita. Each day the pair would walk to Shibuya Station together, where Professor Ueno would take the train to work. When he would arrive back at the station at the end of the day, Hachikō would always be there at the precise time to meet him and together they would walk home. This continued until one day in May 1925 when Professor Ueno suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at work and died. For the next nine years the ever loyal Hachikō continued to arrive at the station each afternoon at the same time, hopeful that Professor Ueno would once again step off the train.

Hachikō and Professor Ueno

Fellow commuters noticed Hachikō waiting and remembered seeing Professor Ueno with the dog each day. Eventually they started bringing him food and treats. Newspaper articles were published, and before long Hachikō became a national symbol of family loyalty for the Japanese people. Children were taught to honor and respect Hachikō’s remarkable vigil and to recognize it as an example for them to follow. Before long, the nation’s interest and awareness in the honorable Akita breed also grew.

In the spring of 1934, a bronze statue was erected outside the Shibuya Station and Hachikō himself was present for its unveiling. The spot where Hachikō waited in the train station is permanently marked with bronze paw prints and text in Japanese detailing his lifelong loyalty. During World War II the statue was sacrificed and melted for the war effort, but a replacement was made and erected in 1948. Each year on April 8, a solemn ceremony takes place at Shibuya Station to honor Hachikō, attracting hundreds of dog owners to pay their respects. And last month, rare photos from Hachikō’s life were shown at the Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum in Shibuya Ward, the show wrapping up on July 22.

Once again, it’s a dog at the helm showing us how we should behave and honor the special people in our lives. So thanks for stepping up, Hachikō. Sure wish you could come back, and this time maybe run for President?

Thanks to Wikipedia, for some facts.

Erica Preo is CEO & Creative Director of Pantofola, pure luxury Italian goods for dogs.