The Richmond Animal Hospital in British Columbia, Canada carries this ad in a provincial paper (Richmond Review), headlined: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
The statement on its own is enough to tug at the heartstring especially for animal lovers who have raised dogs as pets. Sure, there are people who may love you more than you know – mothers come to mind at once. It is not a subject for debate. Dog owners can only avouch the truth of the statement that without exception dogs love their owners more than themselves.
There have been many true stories that tell of dogs that risk their lives to protect and rescue their masters from imminent danger, in all cases unaware of the danger that they themselves face, such as that of a dog that stands between its owner and an attacking cougar or bear. Courage for them, it seems, is inborn. More than that perhaps, their devotion as we read about dogs that seek help to rescue their owners trapped in accidents or a burning house.
Above all, you will find it hard to doubt the unflinching loyalty of a dog. Two of the best loved and touching stories of these legendary animals are Hachiko (November 10, 1923 to March 8, 1935) and Greyfriars Bobby (circa 1855 or 1856 to January 14, 1872).
Hachiko was a golden brown, male Akita or large Japanese spitz which became a national sensation for his faithfulness to his owner even after the death of his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo. Hachiko would greet him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station and the routine continued until May 1925 when the professor never returned, having died from a cerebral hemorrhage. For the next nine years, Hachiko would wait at Shibuya station for his return. Passers-by would give him treats and food. Hachiko was found dead in a Shibuya street. The autopsy showed he had died from terminal cancer and worm infection, and four yakitori sticks were found in his stomach. A grave was marked out for him in Aoyama cemetery in Tokyo, Minatoku but his remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. You can find a bronze statue of him at Shibuya Station, and bronze foot prints at the precise spot where he used to wait for the train to pull into the station.
Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, John Gray (Old Jock), in a cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland, until the day he himself died. Gray worked as a night watchman for the Edinburgh City Police, and the two of them were inseparable until Gray died of tuberculosis on February 8, 1858. Gray was buried in the Greyfriars Kirkyard gravesite in the old town of Edinburgh. As a dog without an owner, he was almost destroyed in 1867, but was saved by Sir William Chambers, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who paid for Bobby`s licence, making him the responsibility of the city council. When Bobby died in 1872, he could not be buried within the cemetery which was considered consecrated ground, but was instead laid to rest inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard not far from Gray`s grave. Until today, visitors still place flowers and stuffed toys at his grave.
Indeed, a dog is man`s best friend. I know, because I had been owner of a number of dogs that had given delighted me tremendously. They ask so little – if they asked anything more than a pat on the head – yet give so much. Sometimes they can be overly protective, and this trait is misunderstood by people as unfriendliness, even viciousness.
In many places that I have travelled to, where you may find the homeless living on the street, often do I see them with dogs by their side. These devoted animals not only provide some form of protection against aggressive elements but, perhaps more significantly, companionship – the kind of warmth that they have failed to find in their fellowmen.
Tags: a dog is man's best friend, Akita (spitz), faithfulness of dogs, Gfreyfriars Bobby, Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh, Hachiko, Hidesaburo Ueno, John Gray (Old Jock), Richmond Animal Hospital Canada, Scottish Scoiety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Shibuya Station Japan, Skye Terrier, University of Tokyo, William Chambers