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A national symbol of loyalty

In 1924, Ueno, a professor in the Agriculture Department at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachiko as a pet. During his owner's life, Hachiko greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station.

The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Prof. Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered from a cerebral haemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachiko was waiting. Every day for the next nine years the golden brown Akita waited at the Shibuya station.

The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachiko attracted the attention of other commuters. Many people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachiko and Professor Ueno together each day. They brought Hachiko treats and food to nourish him during his wait.

That same year, one of Ueno's students (who had become an amateur expert on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the station and followed him to the Kobayashi home (the home of the former gardener of Professor Ueno -Kikuzaboro Kobayashi) where he learned the history of Hachiko's life.

Shortly after this meeting, the former student published a documented census of Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas remaining, including Hachiko from Shibuya Station.

He returned frequently to visit the dog and over the years published several articles about Hachiko's remarkable loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles was published in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun. Hachiko became a national sensation. His faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to achieve.

Teachers and parents used Hachiko's vigil as an example for children to follow. A well-known Japanese artist rendered sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness of the Akita breed grew.

Eventually, Hachiko's legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty.

Hachiko died on March 8, 1935, and was found on a street in Shibuya. After decades of rumours, in March 2011 scientists settled the cause of death of Hachiko. The dog had terminal cancer and a filaria infection (worms).

There were also four yakitori sticks in Hachiko's stomach, but the sticks did not damage his stomach or cause his death. Hachiko was stuffed and the mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. Each year on April 8, Hachiko's devotion is honoured with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo's Shibuya railroad station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honour his memory and loyalty - Internet

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