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The movie that made me a dog lover: ‘Hachi, A Dog’s Tale’

Hachi waits outside the train station (photo by Bianca David)

I have a confession: I am not a dog lover.

Never was and never will be (or so I thought).

Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a pet or the fact that whenever I hear stories from dog owners – it’s usually about the downside of it. You know … having to clean after droppings, destructive behaviour and don’t get me started with my neighbour’s dog who’s up barking at 3 am.

But, all that changed when I watched Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. By the end of it, I was bawling and wanting to buy myself – what I never thought I’d say – a dog!

Trailer of the 2009 adaptation remake.

The 2009 American remake is an adaptation of a 1987 Japanese film, Hachiko Monogatari.

It is based on a true story of an Akita dog who waits for its owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a college professor who commutes to work by train at the Shibuya station. The pair had a daily routine: they walked to the station together, Hachi walked home by himself and returned when Ueno’s train was due, at 3 pm on the dot.

The routine continued for several years until May 1925, when Ueno suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage at work, leaving Hachi at the station all alone. Unaware of what had happened, Hachi returned to the station every day and continued to wait for his owner for a decade until he passed away from natural causes in March 1935.

They then reunited in August 1948, when a bronze statue had been built at the university where Ueno worked, to commemorate the story of Hachiko Monogatari and Hidesaburo Ueno. A statue of Hachiko can also be found where he sat and waited at the Shibuya station.

A true story of faith, devotion and undying love.

2009 remake tagline.

As the film was based on an ancient tale, it definitely had more of an effect than a fictional story turned into a motion picture.

The remake displayed many characteristics of owning a dog – companionship, loyalty, friendship and affection. All of which were portrayed by the characters in the film and also reflects the real-life story of Hachiko and his owner, Ueno.

Behind the scenes with Richard Gere.

In the remake, Richard Gere portrays Parker Wilson, a professor of music who commutes to nearby Providence, Rhode Island.

Both the good and the bad of owning a dog were shown in the film. Hachi could be seen digging up a hole in the backyard making a mess out of things which exemplify an accurate depiction of having a dog. Although they can be a pain (at times), it’s just common behaviour.

Plus, what’s a relationship without the good and the bad?

The film plays with your heartstrings as it provokes an emotional response. You feel sympathy and pain for Hachi as he waits at the station every day, in hopes for Professor Parker to return.

It didn’t help when all the characters in the movie and the audience of the film knew what Hachi did not – he was never going to come back (sobs).

The film expresses the real meaning of unconditional love. As you sit and watch the relationship between Hachi and Professor Parker, you start to think ‘I want that type of love’. The remake does an excellent job of selling the desire to want to own a dog or must I say – have your own Hachi.

I watched the movie with my mom and let me tell you one thing – we were both weeping like a child.

As non-dog lovers, the movie has truly changed our perspective.

At the end of it, we looked at each other with tear-filled eyes.

I said to her “Now, I want a dog!” and mom laughed.