Hachiko -- stuffed too!

Yesterday I posted about Owney the postal train dog –– and now Forever stamp poster dog — who met his end in a somewhat ignominious fashion, having been shot and then stuffed.

My pal Lori over at The Dog Park commented that the real train dog symbol should have been Hachiko, a Japanese Akita who is legendary for having waited for his master, a professor, at the train station for years after the professor died.

I somewhat pedantically pointed out that that Hachiko never actually boarded a train and that his story had been made into a godawful movie starring Richard Gere.

Then this morning I found an email from Emma of TripBaseInc who wrote, “As you frequently run great animal-related content on Will My Dog Hate Me?, we wanted to share our pick of the greatest animal stories of all time with you and your readers.”

I don’t always click on random links that are sent me, but there was something about the note that stood out: “The Adorable Animal Awards not only feature a touch of alliteration, but are full to the brim of wonderful and heart-warming stories.”

You know how I feel about alliteration.

And so I clicked on The Adorable Animal Awards and sure enough — not only were the animals adorable, but they had great stories.

The first one, under the title “Most Loyal” told the story of Hachiko. I quote it here verbatim:

In the early 20th Century a Japanese professor adopted an Akita puppy and named him Hachiko. Every day, Hachiko would meet the professor at Shibuya train station when he came home from work. One day, the professor sadly suffered a brain hemorrhage and didn’t return, but for the next 9 years, every day until he died, Hachiko showed up at the train station when the professor’s train was due.

For its ability to make grown men bawl like babies, the story of ‘faithful dog Hachiko’ takes the grand prize for most loyal.

Did you Know?

A statue of Hachiko stands at Shibuya train station while his remains were (rather morbidly) stuffed and mounted for display in the National Science Museum of Japan.

In deference to those people who don’t want to be confronted with a picture of the stuffed Hachiko that accompanies the article, I didn’t post it here, but I suggest you go look at it. I’ve got to admit that he and Owney are as darling in death as they must have been in life.

And I have to admit to that many people feel differently about taxidermy than I and most of my friends do. I thought its popularity was restricted to hunters and fish-trophy seekers, and that it was otherwise a craft of the past. Not so. I discovered there is a group of artists called the Rogue Taxidermists, who create mythical creatures such as dragons and griffins and … Well, I’ve probably already told you more about this topic than you want to know. If you’re interested — and it really is pretty fascinating — see the Wikipedia article.

So that was this morning’s ride on the serendipity train. The good news: This is the last day for voting for The Petties which seem to have brought out a strain of dark humor in me. I’ll go back to being sunny, sweet and perky tomorrow.

Just kidding.

19 thoughts on “Serendipity and Taxidermy”

  1. So I’m not the only Hachiko fan, eh? 😉 And I never saw or even heard of the movie. And I’m NOT a Richard Gere fan.

    Off to vote one last time… or two… 🙂 And thanks for the link!

  2. The railroads stuffed Owney AND Hachiko ? This is a conspiracy, we should have known. Did we follow up on Lassie, oh no I fear the worst.
    If the railroads ever open for pet-friendly travel, my advice is to start running and start up that RV!

    1. Ha! I don’t think we can blame the railroad for Hachiko, but I’m not sure. In any case, I’ll pass your warning along to Frankie, in case he gets chosen as the Amtrak poster dog — as I certainly hope he will.

  3. Loving an animal can take some strange forms. I knew a couple who had a pet raccoon. When Peppy died, they had him stuffed and displayed him on the mantle.

    Have you read John Woestendiek’s Dog, Inc about cloning? He spent some time talking about people freeze drying their pets to preserve their presence.

    Personally, I’m happy with memories and photographs.

    1. Ah, I need to direct you over to a link that I found on DoggieStylish.com yesterday: The 10 Weirdest Ways to Remember Your Dog http://www.oddee.com/item_97825.aspx Cloning is on that list (but not freeze-drying). I’ll have to read John W’s book. I think.

      Taxidermy seems downright normal compared to some of this stuff.

  4. Okay guys, I must say I liked the Hachiko movie! But then again, I will like pretty much any movie about a dog! I bawled my eyes out on that one! Haha.

    And Edie, I did vote twice today for you! I REALLY hope you win!

    Give Frankie an ear scratch for me!

    Shawna M

    1. Thank you for your votes and your moral support, Shawna!

      I want you to know that I’m a sucker for almost all dog movies too. I loved Beverly Hills Chihuahua (even the sequel), Hotel for Dogs… lots of seriously dopey movies. But I found Hachiko deeply depressing, as opposed to moving. Somehow the movie made it seem as though the poor dog was disappointed on a daily basis — as opposed to having renewed hope every day. It’s hard to explain, and maybe that’s the nature of the story but instead of weeping copiously, as I fully expected to do, I found myself dry-eyed and disturbed.

      1. Well, honestly, I think you’re right. It was sad and depressing! I did feel so sorry for Hachiko but I guess I was moved by his loyalty and his profound love for his master. I would think most dogs would forget after awhile and accept a new master but he proved otherwise. That’s the part that really moved me.

        I have never watched Beverly Hills Chihuahua or the sequel but I really need to!!! I’m sure I would love them both.

        Shawna M

  5. Edie, you never cease to amaze me with the broad spectrum of your research and the deep knowledge of the subjects you introduce to us. As for great dog movies, have you seen “my dog Skip”? My vote for the best contemporary dog movie.

    Off to vote again!

    1. This really did fall into my lap — well, inbox — this morning; about all the research involved was googling “taxidermy” and quoting Wikipedia. But I should just shut up and graciously say “thank you”!

      Okay, full confession: I didn’t want to out myself but I really didn’t like My Dog Skip — too many upsetting scenes and I’m not a fan of boys-coming-of-age flicks (especially in rural settings). My dog film tastes tend towards the chick flick — bitch flick? — mode.

  6. the google-serendipity fairy is looking out for you!

    I liked Toto in The Wizard of Oz best of all movie dogs- he looked just like my childhood first pet dog.

    1. It/she is indeed!

      Yes, Toto is quite the star; along those lines, I like Asta of the Thin Man movies too. Those terriers…

  7. My first response to the stuffed Haichiko was to cringe. I can imagine him being quite a cute dog in life, but the stuffed version of him was a bit creepy. What also stood out was how different he looked from today’s Akitas. Breeding? Perhaps. Or, maybe it’s just the angle he was pictured.

    I’ve heard of people stuffing their pets (equally creepy), but the dragons and griffins thing was a completely new one to me. Who knew? Gonna have to go and check out that Wikipedia link now. Thanks for finding some of the most interesting stuff Edie!

  8. I ran across a pic of stuffed Haichiko a few years back. Odd to say the least. BUT there is a statue of him outside the train station where he stood vigil for all those years. Admirers leave scarves around the neck or food at his feet. I find that rather sweet.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen a picture of the statue, and I thought it was very moving — which is why I was so surprised to learn that Haichiko was stuffed too!

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