It is overwhelming to think of the love and loyalty that dogs routinely give their owners, often without the human giving it a second thought. They are always there to greet you when you come home from work, happy to go for a walk no matter what the weather and willing to sit and listen to your problems without judging. While all dogs that are treated well by their owners provide loyalty, there are some dogs that have become legends based on their love and loyalty to their owner or family. Some are fictional dogs that are so well known they seem to be real such as Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, but others are real dogs that have left their mark in history for their devotion.
Some dogs such as the famous Balto have become legends because of their outstanding heart and performance. Balto is the lead dog on the sled team that brought the diphtheria medication to Nome, Alaska, thereby preventing a huge epidemic from spreading throughout the North in 1925. Other dogs are known for their love of one person whom they remained loyal to even after death.
Perhaps one of the most famous examples of a devoted dog is the true story of the Akita dog Hachik. The breed was always considered extremely loyal dogs and were only the property of royalty for many centuries. This particular puppy was purchased by a University professor, Hidesabur Ueno, in 1924. The two used to walk home together from the train station every day and by mid 1924 Hachik would walk to meet his owner on the evening train by himself, sitting faithfully at the station until his master got off the train and walked him home.
In 1925, while at work the professor suffered a fatal heart attack and died. Of course the beloved Hachik had no way to know this, so he sat hopefully at the train station waiting until it was dark, then he walked home alone. The professors family gave Hachik away, however he kept running away and back to the house looking for his master. He didn't just go to the house however, he also started to go to the train station every night, dutifully meeting the evening train.
Soon the commuters began to notice the dog, remembering that the Professor used to meet the beautiful Akita. Despite everyones efforts to keep the dog away, he would sit there at the station in rain, snow and heat, waiting for his master to come. Students that knew the Professor and knew of his love for his dog wrote articles on the Akita which were published in local and national newspapers and soon picked up across the world.
Hachik continued to visit the train station every day of his life. In 1934 a bronze statue of the devoted Akita was placed outside of the Shibuya Station to commemorate the dog's loyalty to his master. Hachik was there at the ceremony, but died later in 1935 of heartworm. His fame helped to re-develop interest in the Akita breed and become a National Treasure of Japan.
Perhaps one of the most romantic stories of loyalty of a dog to his owner is that of Greyfriars Bobby. The dog, a Skye Terrier, belonged to a man by the name of John Gray. John Gray was an night watchman for the City of Edinburgh, Scotland, so he was able to take his terrier with him when he worked. Most accounts indicate that John Gray and Bobby were always together and they were a common site in the pub and along the route that the night watchman was responsible for.
In 1858 John Gray died of tuberculosis, when the little dog Bobby was only about two years of age. John Gray was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, which was the cemetary in the Greyfriars area of Edinburgh. Almost immediately people began to notice a small Skye Terrier that spend most evenings and some days simply sitting on or around the grave of John Gray. People that new him recognized Bobby at once and although people fed him and tried to keep him in their houses, Bobby preferred to stay in the graveyard by his master's headstone.
Bobby continued to live most of his life in the graveyard, fed by neighbors and kind souls that admired the dog for his devotion to his master. Some people didn't like the thought of a stray dog wandering the area and tried to have him caught and destroyed for being an unlicensed dog. Sir William Chambers, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and the head of the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals purchased a license for Bobby who officially became a ward of the city council of Edinburgh until he died in 1872. He is burried just outside the graveyard of beloved master John Gray.
In 1873 the Baroness Burdett Coutts had a fountain and sculpture of the dog placed just outside the graveyard and it is still a major tourist attraction in the area. There have been several books and movies made about Greyfriars Bobby, which has led to some additional fictional and perhaps more romantic aspects of the story. Regardless, this dogs amazing love for his master is just one more example of how devoted and loyal dogs really are.
Most dog owners and dog lovers have heard stories about faithful and loyal dogs that go above and beyond what one would expect in a canine. Dogs are truly remarkable animals, and while not all will continue to walk to meet a train or wait for an owner that will never arrive, all will provide unconditional love and attention, happy to just be with people that treat them well and love them back.