Thursday, June 2, 2016

Old Shep, the American Hachiko

America has a train station dog too.  Saturday, January 12, 2013

Historical Hounds-The Story of Old Shep

Today marks the anniversary of the death of one of the  most famous American dogs, Old Shep. Immortalized in the famous famous folk song by Ramblin Jack Elliot,  and later sung by Elvis Presley.  While the song tells the story of a fictional boy and his beloved dog, the name is borrowed from the real Old Shep, a homeless mutt who attained great fame in his life time due to his sweet and loyal nature.

Shep lived for 6 years at The Great Northern Railway Station in Montana. The legend is that he first appeared at the station at the same time a casket was being loaded onto a train.   After that fateful day Shep continued to return to the rail station and seemed to inspect each incoming train, leading the railway workers to believe that Shep was looking for his departed master.  The  workers began to take care of Shep until he was soon  living at the station.   Comfortable around the trains, affectionate and friendly he easily  won admirers.    Thanks to the railway workers who told his story to the many travelers who passed through the station Shep became famous and was featured in Ripley's Believe it Or Not.  His story so impressed people that he began to receive fan mail and gifts as well as many visitors.

On January 12, 1942 Shep, already a middle aged to older dog when he first arrived at the station, was somewhat feeble and suffering from failing hearing when he was struck and killed by an oncoming train.  His funeral was attended by hundreds of mourners.  His obituary was carried in many news papers, even though the news was inundated with stories of the War.  Shep was buried near the rail tracks and his name was spelled out in stones and illuminated at night.  For years  travelers saw the grave through the windows of every departing train, but eventually the  route changed and the grave fell into disrepair.

In 1994 a large bronze  statue of Shep was erected at the station.  Today visitors continue to bring Shep flowers.

There is no doubt that like all American heroes Shep's story has been embellished and taken on some mythic elements. Some versions describe Shep waiting at the hospital where his master was ill, for days before the man's death.  Others speak of him simply arriving at the station with the casket.  Stories diverge on the degree of Shep's loyalty and overall  personality.  Some describe him as being in constant mourning for his lost master.  Some individuals who actually new Shep during his life time however, describe him as playful and happy dog who enjoyed his life at the station, and basked in the attention of his many admirers.  No matter how much we love the idea of canine loyalty, I prefer to think of Shep as a happy old dog enjoying his golden years at the railway station.

And if you don't know about Hachiko...

Hachiko, Japan’s most loyal dog, finally reunited with owner in heartwarming new statue in Tokyo  Casey Baseel Feb 11, 2015

Even in a country that adores its pets, none have captured the hearts of Japanese animal-lovers like Hachiko. The Akita dog touched the hearts of people across the nation by devotedly waiting every day for more than nine years in front of Tokyo’s Shibuya Station for his master to return from work, not knowing that he had died from a cerebral hemorrhage and wouldn’t be coming back.

Today, a statue of Hachiko stands in Shibuya, showing the dog patiently waiting. But while the bittersweet quality of the story made Hachiko famous, it overlooks the fact that before his master’s passing, the two would happily reunite every evening and walk home together. Now, it’s that moment’s turn to be immortalized, with a new statue showing Hachiko as he’s rarely been depicted before, bursting with joy upon seeing his owner.

While Hachiko is arguably the more famous of the two, his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, also contributed greatly to Japanese society. Ueno was a professor at the University of Tokyo (then called Tokyo Imperial University) for over 20 years, and a celebrated scholar in the field of agricultural engineering. As a matter of fact, it was during one of his lectures in 1925 that Ueno collapsed and passed away.

 A bust of Ueno at the University of Tokyo

This year marks the 90th anniversary of Ueno’s death, and also the 80th of Hackiho’s passing. In memoriam, the University of Tokyo’s agriculture department has erected a bronze statue of man and dog on its campus, together at last.
And Hachiko has a friend... 

Shibuya’s Hachiko has a new feline pal, and they look absolutely adorable together!  Joan Coello Jun 26, 2015

When it comes to famous canines in Japan, there’s none who surpasses Hachiko, the legendary faithful dog who even got a movie made in its name.We knew Hachiko was popular among humans, we just didn’t know he was popular among the felines too! Check out Hachiko with his new kitty pal!
The Hachiko statue located outside Tokyo’s Shibuya Station is a famous landmark, and the space surrounding it is usually crawling with people, especially in the evenings and on weekends, as it serves as the go-to meeting spot in the area.

Being among the ranks of the busiest railway stations in Japan, Shibuya Station sees millions of passengers on a daily basis, and some of them have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Hachiko’s new companion, a well-groomed kitty cat who was spotted hanging out with Hachiko on several occasions.

1 comment:

Felipe Pires said...

I saw that cat there last year... I took this pic..