real life hachiko

A dog in the city of Iida, Nagano prefecture, has become the focus of Japanese animal lovers’ attention this week after he was spotted waiting patiently at the side of a mountain road for more than seven days despite the blisteringly cold weather and frequent rain.

The dog has refused to budge from the area for days, and simply stares downhill at the long stretch of road as if waiting for his owner to return, like a modern-day Hachikō.

As depicted in the 2009 movie Hachi, Hachikō was the name of a dog that waited patiently for his master every day outside Tokyo’s Shibuya station for an incredible nine years after his death. The dog would go to meet his master Hidesaburo Ueno coming home from work at the same time each day for years, but after Ueno suffered a stroke and died, his dog continued to return to the station daily until his own death nine years later, much to the sorrow of local residents and station staff who grew to love and pity him. Visitors to the station today can see a memorial statue of the faithful pooch standing outside the entrance closest to the famous “scramble” street crossing, appropriately named the “Hachiko exit”.

hachikou

The light-brown dog discovered in chilly Nagano prefecture was first spotted by a local couple on December 4 while they were out driving. The couple, both in their 70s, were driving along the high mountain road when they spotted the sad-looking dog standing in an open section of land near the roadside, facing down the sloping path.

The dog is said to be of muscular build and was believed to have been kept as a hunting dog, though now clearly malnourished and having been exposed to the elements for so long he is started looking rather worse for wear.

“He may have strayed too far from his master,” commented the couple who first sighted the pooch, “but if he’s simply been abandoned, wait as he might his master almost definitely isn’t coming back. I feel so sorry for him; he must be hungry.”

More than seven days later, apart from having turned to brace against the bitterly cold wind, the dog has remained in the same spot and is seemingly still awaiting his owner’s return.

Quite why no one has picked the pooch up and taken him somewhere safe and warm, we have no idea. We’ll be sure to bring you more information about this sad but infinitely dutiful dog as soon as it emerges.

【UPDATE】

On the morning of December 14, after receiving literally hundreds of calls from people concerned over the dog’s safety, the Ida Health and Welfare Office went out to the site and took the dog into custody after it voluntarily entered a cage set outside. They report that aside from having lost weight, they found the dog to be in healthy condition. The dog will wait for contact from the owner until December 24, after which they will put him up for general adoption. Check here for more information.

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^Before being taken into custody

Source/Top image Chunichi News