Man’s Best Friend
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” – Unknown
A dog’s loyalty to his owner was proven through the sad tale of Hachiko. Around 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took Hachiko, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. Throughout his owner’s life, Hachiko would accompany him to the nearby Shibuya Station and would patiently wait to greet him at the end of each day at the station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachiko was waiting. Each day for the next ten years, Hachiko faithfully would wait for Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station. After the first appearance of an article about him people started to bring him treats and food to nourish him during his wait. He would become a symbol of unwavering loyalty.
Sadly, Hachiko would be found dead on March 8, 1935. His remains were cremated and his ashes were buried in Aoyama Cemetery, Minato, Tokyo where they rest beside those of his beloved master, Professor Ueno.
Hey Adela…. Great story. The theme of loyal animals have become a popular favourite through history, remember the one of Mary, Queen of Scots whose little lapdog hid under her skirt at her execution?
So I thought I would add a couple of British ones, which are very famous.
My first one is the story of Greyfriars Bobby. Back in the latter half of the nineteenth century, John Gray, a gardener and his wife and son moved to Edinburgh, but he was unable to find work. He eventually signed up as a Police Constable, in order to provide for his family, and soon became a regular sight patrolling the streets of Edinburgh in the late hours of the night, accompanied by his little Skye Terrier, Bobby, who he acquired to keep him company.
John died in 1858 from Tuberculosis, and following his burial in Greyfriars churchyard, his little dog refused to leave his side. Despite attempts by the groundsman to remove him, Bobby would not leave the grave of his master, except to go for a meal each day at one o clock, where he would follow a local joiner to the same café he visited in the past with John for lunch. Eventually, the church keeper gave up trying to move Bobby along, and made him a shelter between the two tombs that lay close to Gray’s, to give Bobby somewhere to sleep out of the cold.
A law was passed a few years later, requiring all dogs be licensed in the city, and so dog-catchers would often try and snatch Bobby, who was classed as a stray, and faced being destroyed. Local Edinburgh Lord Provost, Sir William Chambers paid for Bobby’s licence, and gave him a collar inscribed “Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed”. Bobby was now owned by the people of Edinburgh who often gathered to catch sight of the little fella, and continued to care for him.
In 1872, Bobby passed away, still faithfully waiting at the side of his master. A statue was later erected in his memory opposite the Churchyard of Greyfriars, where Bobby kept up his faithful vigil for 14 years and where he was laid to rest, close to the grave of John Gray.
Not to leave it there, and to show that loyalty between a man and his dog has transcended time, I’m also going to mention the bond between a very famous man and his dog. The story of Guy Gisbon and his faithful black Labrador, Nigger. (And yes, I know that’s a derogatory term from a modern perspective, but in 1940 it wasn’t considered so, and I didn’t name the dog….)
Guy Gibson was famous as the pilot that led the ‘Dambusters’ bombing raid on the Dams in Europe, in 1943. He was easy to pick out in a crowd as he was invariably accompanied by his dog, and often took him on training flights and so on. They were an inseparable pair. It has often been stated that on any occasion when Gibson left Nigger behind when he flew sorties, the dog would sit by the side of the runway and await his return.
On the day before the now-famous raid, a tragedy occurred. Nigger was hit by a car and killed outside of RAF Scampton base where Gibson was stationed. As the dog represented the squadron, as a kind of mascot, it was decided that announcements of his death could affect morale. Gibson made the decision to keep the loss of his dog a secret, and asked that he be buried near Gibson’s office close to the 617 squadron hangar. During the raid the following night, the burial took place.
Gibson’s raid was a success, breaching two dams which caused immense disruption for the Germans, but at considerable loss of 53 lives, and nine aircraft. As each was breached, Gibson wired the arranged code back to base to notify them of success. The word he chose was the name of his beloved dog. Gibson was killed himself, the following year, during a raid in Holland.
But the story doesn’t end there. Within a few years, a number of reports began to circulate of a ghost dog, which appeared in the vicinity of Gibson’s office, and in various areas around the station, particularly the Officers mess. Paranormal investigators have performed studies, which they claim have shown incidents of increased activity in certain places, particularly in Gibson’s office. Whilst filming the Dambusters movie in 1955, during which Nigger was portrayed, the animal actor consistently refused to move from a particular spot, or walk in a certain place near to the area. Upon enquiry it was mentioned that the spot in question was the grave of Nigger, whose headstone had been removed for the duration of filming. The scene was eventually re-shot without the dog.
Dedicated to all the dogs who have demonstrated extreme loyalty and given their lives in service of their country, most recently Diesel, who lost her life last week, during the Paris terrorist attack, when she was caught in the blast as a suicide bomber detonated her bomb, whilst her handler lay injured by gunshot.