The Most Famous Dog Who Ever Lived

Dogs are great. I love my dog. He’s the smartest idiot I know. Or perhaps the dumbest genius. Since the dawn of domestication, dogs have been our friends, playmates, protectors, caregivers, soldiers and even our food. There’s virtually no society on Earth that doesn’t have dogs as part of their historic social fabric. We lived together for so long that dogs can actually innately understand human emotion. And that may seem obvious, but as of this video, they’re the only other animal that we’ve ever found who’s able to do so, including the apes. We bred dogs to love us. And in turn, they’ve become an important part of human history. Like any other social group though, they’ve had their symbolic heroes and villains, and this is the story of one of their heroes, and in turn a story of all dogs and the story of us. It’s a story of Hachikō, the loyal Akita of Shibuya Station. But Hachikō’s story isn’t exactly rare. There’s hundreds if not thousands of stories of dogs loyal beyond comprehension. And yet, it’s taken the world by storm. There are dozens of movies, books, statues, plays, poems about this dog. There’s even probably the most memorable and moving Futurama episode dedicated to it. I think that Hachikō is probably the most famous dog who ever lived. But why? Born in 1923, he was the pet of a professor in Tokyo, then one of the fastest growing cities on Earth, already at eight million people and growing all the time. Space was limited and getting more limited every single day. The Akita, Hachikō’s breed, is a large and dominant breed of dog. So at the time during his owners life, he would have been considered at the very least a nuisance, and to many, a great source of fear. But every morning, he would follow his owner to Shibuya Station to see him off to work. And every evening, he would come back again to pick him up, all by himself. By all accounts a very good dog. But one day his owner had an aneurysm and died. He didn’t come back that evening. Hachikō came, but his owner didn’t. Hachikō would never see him again. But that didn’t stop him from trying. For over nine years, every day he returned to that station to see if his owner would come back. And even though the modern stories don’t show it, he would have been kicked and abused by people at the station. By passengers and station attendants alike. He was a big dog in a cramped city, and he would have been a major source of fear for some of those commuters. People certainly wouldn’t have looked kindly on a dog waiting alone at a major station. Yet he returned. Every day, he returned. In 1932, seven years into his routine, a newspaper caught wind of the story. That one page in the newspaper fundamentally changed not only the life of the dog, but the world in turn, especially the nation of Japan. The story was exactly what 1920’s militarized Japanese government was aching for. It was a story of loyalty beyond death. It was the 47 Rōnin in dog form. And if that reference doesn’t make sense, you should watch our first video. Overnight attitudes change. Station attendants began to give him attention. Local commuters would give him food. He became a national celebrity. And when he died he was honored in a way that was perhaps even greater than war heroes. He was memorialized in song and poetry. He was given statues across the country. He was even stuffed and put in the major museum here in town in Tokyo. In the 90’s, whenever a TV channel found old recordings of his bark, their broadcast drew in millions of listeners. Millions of people to listen to a dog barking. He’d entered the national identity and become more, he’d become a genuine symbol of the Japanese spirit. But that’s where it goes deeper. Hachikō’s effect was more than just instilling wartime loyalty. He unwittingly became the dog that saved his breed. Because as Japan was densifying into these conglomerated urban centers, they didn’t really have time for a game hunting large dog. His era as a working animal had come and gone, but hadn’t really quite crossed over into the domesticated urban pet. So by the time of his owner’s death, there was really only about three dozen purebred Akita remaining in the world. But once he was a symbol of the national identity, it isn’t like they could just let the breed die off. It’ll be terrible propaganda and the imperial government knew it, so they began a breeding program. They actually during his lifetime made the Akita breed a national historic monument. But during the war, a large breed such as the Akita, with starvation being what it was, it suffered. But because of Hachikō’s memory, it survived. It didn’t just survive, but after the war, it thrived. Oddly enough, Helen Keller was the first to bring it to the United States, followed by a lot of US servicemen who’d heard the story of Hachikō and liked the dogs in general. Now it’s one of the world’s more popular dog breeds. Hachikō saved his breed. As the story of Hachikō is retold and reshaped by the new cultures it encounters, it has to sort of mold to fit that new environment. It’s no longer this symbol of loyalty in the face of unstoppable militarist policy, or undying love for an emperor. Our needs changed, and the story followed suit. In Hachikō’s story, we see the fulfillment of our constantly changing desires, particularly with the spreading pet culture popularized by the West, it now represents the more generic desire to be loved by our animals. To believe that we’re important to the beings that are important to us. There’s no question that without Hachikō the Akita breed would be extinct today. But the point of the story is to show that it isn’t because he waited for his master. It’s because he became part of the frame that we place upon the world. He became a symbol of something that humans wanted for themselves. A symbol to believe in. A good dog. That’s Rare Earth. Stretch. Um, like a, like a chicken. [Dish, dish.]

100 thoughts on “The Most Famous Dog Who Ever Lived

  1. Thanks to everyone who asked about our Patreon. I'll put out a full video when I get the time, but for those who want to jump the gun and get on board from the start, here's the link:

    It means a huge deal that so many have asked us to start an account. I never thought anyone would watch these videos, let alone support them.

  2. I watch Hachiko movie more than 100 times,but every time I don't control myself to cry.Hachiko Love❤from India.

  3. My grandparents had an Akita. It would run the avocado ranch they lived on with the neighbor's dog a Rhodesian Ridgeback and my grandparents other dog a border collie. Every morning at 6 a.m they would meet up and run the ranch for a few hours.

  4. There's that Scottish dog who laid at its owners grave for years just like hatchi .I cried my eyes at watching the 2009 movie the other day . I can't stop thinking about it

  5. Man guys I really love your videos. It is just a great format, so much information in these short minutes and as always well spoken. For this particular episode, I couldn't help but noticed that, how the cameraman was able to guide, backwards I assume, between the trees? And as always, my favorite at the end is the credits. Great video as always, keep it up!

  6. I red the title and I exactly new about which dog this video was about

    1:29 I'd have to disagree, there are a few like that, e.g. when fry finds the grave of his nephew because he thought it was his brothers and we wanted to get his cloverleaf back

  7. Hatchicko has me in tears …he waited for nine years that movie with Richard gere…the ending had me in tears ….imagine Jesus Christ waiting for us every second of every day and year ..until now’s been in my head

  8. When you mentioned they played his barks on tv that got me right in the feels hard… So much love for such a great dog! Long Live Hachikō!

  9. There is dog like him in my country. Its owner fall in a hole and dead… Emergency came and took him but he dead. The dog is still waiting him untill today for 6 years untill now on the place he dead untill today. It was on news.

  10. My old girl Kya is getting up there in age and frankly, I can't imagine a day where I'm not graced by her fantastic little personality. I will probably outlive her but I certainly will never forget her

  11. I like to think that, people tell the story of hachiko,WHEN THEY ACTUALLY MET HACHIKO, like as a little kid, they would be like " hey there was this dog, that kept waiting at the train station for 9 years. when i was 13, i never saw it again..But why?"

  12. What I wonder is if the dog ever learned what happened to its caretaker. Or if any dog in any of these countless situations ever learn.
    I think it's worse not knowing what happened. I know dogs aren't as intelligent as us, but they understand us so well.
    I can't help but think about how sad the dog must've felt. Not knowing if something happened or believing that its caretaker abandoned it.
    Death/trajedy is a natural part of life and I've always admired people who look past the pain. I think there's something incredible about individuals who can smile upon the memories and experiences they've created, rather than letting pain overcome them. After all life should be enjoyed and the sorrow that one faces may be great, but it isn't the end.
    However above all else I think one of the worst things someone may endure is not having the chance to say goodbye. Missing the chance to say thanks for the time well spend, to say I'll miss you, or even to let them know you'll be thinking of them.

  13. Did he pronounce the name of the breed correctly? I believed that the correct pronunciation was uh-KEE-tuh

  14. We should have cloned the dog. A truly heart warming and heart breaking story. He died lonely, cold, hungry and sad. Probably in great deal of pain too with the heart worms and diseases. RIP Hachiko! Your daddy is with you now.

  15. I saw the hachiko Netflix movie…made me cry my dogs loyal, but no so much that he would do that ;-;

  16. Love that story, let us all humans keep the beautiful story live on of HACHI he is now with his owner in heaven dogs are truly man's best friend. Thank you for sharing God bless

  17. While the Akita is indeed a physically imposing and powerful breed, in Japan, it is practically a sacred animal, a status symbol. Passersby and regulars at the Shibuya would have known Hachiko even before Professor Ueno's death. Food vendors often fed the dog themselves.

  18. This dog is just a symbol of what unduying loyalty looks like. Now people just project that as they want, some project saying that dogs are the best companian a human could ever have others how we can all strive to be like hachi. In the end it's a propaganda piece and no one knows if the dog just went there as a reflex to be fed or if by some miraculous intellect, he would greet his owner back from wrod. I'd say it's probably the ladder but hey the greek legends are bullshit and they teach us very important lessons.

  19. We had a dog like this in Moscow. Named Malchik (мальчик) which means little boy. There's a statue for him in the metro here.

  20. Hachiko, a story both heartbreaking and inspirational. I had an Akita cross which I rescued. Most loyal dog I've ever known. As the meme goes-who rescued who?

  21. it took me most of the video to realize he was pronouncing 'Akita' oddly. I love this story.  brings me to tears every time I hear it.

  22. in bengal there is a story of a dog and his pack. They used to protect a local village from dacoits and wolves. one day the band of dacoits held the villagemen at gunpoint. The dogs immediately began to attack them even though bullets flew. Even after 2 bullets met the target and lodged in his brain he kept on attacking the dacoits. they were so scared that they fled. later the next morning the dog and 2 of his pack succumbed to their injuries and they were given a proper cremation befitting that of a Brahmin priest.

  23. Hachiko, Togo and Balto were alive all at the same time, in two different parts of the world, famous for two difference reasons. To me Togo is my favourite as he's really loyal too and ran twice as far as the other sled dog teams. Hachiko is awesome too though

  24. I want to be depressed… Let’s watch a Rare Earth video about Hachiko. By the way, you can’t believe how much this channel is good for my mind despite always making me feel so bad.

  25. Hachiko is the world's most famous dog. Let me tell you the story of why he's famous, in case you didn't know already.

  26. I have to disagree slightly, IT'S NOT JUST RARE EARTH! ITS BEAUTIFUL!!!! you sir should be proud of yourself- your videos touch hearts and there is no way to thank you for all your heart you've put into this, I truly love your videos because they constantly remind me of the smaller things that make up the world we live in 🙂

  27. Hachicko, not just a good dog, one of the best!. (My favorite short story about a dog is an SF story called Propagandist by Murray Leinster. What happens when a dog is lost on an alien planet? Read the story and see.)

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