In Memory: The Animals Lost After the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

After the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of March 2011, the Japanese government wouldn’t allow residents to rescue their left-behind pets. It was deemed a health risk.
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Hachiko is just one symbol of the strength, beauty and resistance of animals. Tragically, some suffer at the hands of us humans.
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Click the link below to find out more and check out a book I recommend that perfectly captures the fragile existence of living creatures and their symbiotic relationships with humans. The tender collection of thoughts in this book will warm your heart and elevate your spirit.

The Pets who Survived Hurricane Dorian

As Hurricane Dorian made its way over the Bahamas and up the east coast of the United States and Canada last week, we’re still only beginning to understand the damage it has caused so far, particularly in hard-hit areas like the Bahamas. Unfortunately, animals in affected areas have suffered, too. According to reports from over the weekend, more than 100 animals died at the Humane Society Of Grand Bahama due to the heavy flooding. In a post on the shelter’s Facebook, the executive director said kennels were submerged in five feet of water. Only 156 dogs and cats survived. “We’ve been through several storms there with no flooding issues at all,” Tip Burrows, shelter director, told the Miami Herald. “So the water all of a sudden just started rushing in… sort of like a raging river.” Family (including their 3 dogs) have Close Call Below is a video of a photographer and his family escaping their flooded home. Their home is miles inland so the flooding was unexpected. Within just 30 minutes, the water in the home was chest high. Their family includes three dogs, one of them blind. Luckily, they were able to get their entire family, pups included, to safety. Many other families and animals were not as lucky. Dog Rescuers go Above and Beyond Chella Phillips, a dog rescuer in the Bahamas, took 97 dogs into her home. She has owned a small shelter for the past 4 years. People all over the world have rallied together and raised almost $300k as of the time of writing. She plans to use the donations to buy land, away from the city, to build a large rescue shelter. Search dog teams deploy to assist in Hurricane Dorian relief efforts The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is also helping those affected by hurricane Dorian. They deployed 12 search teams to support relief efforts, part of a deployment of state and federal task forces to the Eastern seaboard, according to SDF. Teams from California, Florida, and New York will help relief efforts where needed. Each unit, comprised of a handler and a canine, is FEMA-certified and has specialized training for natural disasters. You can Help the Homeless Animals If you want to help these animals affected by Dorian — and shelters in the northeast that took in hundreds of animals from impacted areas—below you’ll find various ways to contribute. There are countless stories of dogs, cats, and animal rescues in all affected areas — from Bermuda to the Carolinas and even Canada. This list below is courtesy of Josh Ocampo, Lifehacker. (1) The Humane Society of the Grand Bahamas, the shelter in question, has a GoFundMe page set up for donations. Contributions will go toward supplies and airlifting animals outside of the Bahamas. They’ll also accept donations through the Kohn Foundation, a non-profit that works with the HSGB. You can check the GoFundMe page or the shelter’s Facebook for updates. (And if you’re interested in adopting a pet from the shelter, according to their Facebook, all evacuated animals will be sent to Halo No-Kill Shelter in Florida.) The shelter has a lost and found page on Facebook for any pet owners to be reunited with their animals. (2) The Best Friends Animal Society is accepting donations as part of its Disaster Relief Fund; the funds will go toward emergency assistance of pets during natural disasters (not limited to Dorian). BFAS is providing updates on its Facebook page regarding shelters with animals rescued from Dorian. They also have a lost and found page for pets. And if you want to adopt a pet evacuated from Dorian, you can check their website. (3) The Humane Society of the United States accepts donations for disaster relief as part of its general Emergency Animal Rescue Fund. According to their website, donations will go toward emergency preparation and response-related activities, including providing resources for animals in need and hiring emergency response staff. Be wary of any donation page or GoFundMe that claims to represent an organization that helps victims of Dorian; according to the Humane Society of the Grand Bahamas, there is only one GoFundMe page representing them (so don’t fall for others unless you’ve contacted that shelter directly and properly vetted the campaigner’s relationship with that organization through their social media presence). Sadly, pets were not allowed on many rescue boats. Similar to the Fukushima nuclear accident, within minutes, owners had to decide whether to accept rescue for themselves and their families….or pass to stay with their beloved companions. I can’t imagine leaving my Hachi. Either way, it’s a nightmare scenario. Our pets love us unconditionally. And, depend on us for their lives. What would you do in this situation? 

A Special Visit to Woonsocket’s Hachi Statue and Introducing The Hachi Trail (Map below)

After seeing “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” in late 2013, Sira Sudhindranath was curious to see the real-world town that portrayed “Bedridge” where the film story took place. Using Google and Bing Maps, he located the train depot at Woonsocket and other film locations. That’s how the Hachi Trail (www.facebook.com/thehachitrail) was created and today, it’s a popular local destination for tourists and Hachi friends alike. Along with help from the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, Sudhindranath gathered 12 families and 17 of their canine friends to visit the film location. They call themselves the “I Luv my Coton de Tulear” group. Welcomed by Oscar Hancock of American Beauty Signworks in Woonsocket and Donna Houle of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council members hosted the enthusiastic group who came around the United States — California, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Their goal? To visit the Hachiko statue and walk the locations where Hachi: A Dog’s Tale was filmed. Not only did they learn about the history of Woonsocket, they enjoyed lunch at Palace Pizza, followed by a snack of hot dogs and coffee milk (the official state drink of coffee syrup and milk) from New York Lunch at Market Square. “The weather was good and we all had a very enjoyable tour of the movie locations, plus some excellent food,” said Sudhindranath. If you have a chance, visit this charming town to say “hi” to Hachi’s statue and be sure to walk the Hachi Trail!

Young Italian Fan Pens Love Letters to Hachi

A girl’s devotion to Hachiko has become part of Japan’s long adoration of the loyal dog. At age 10, Stephanie watched Hachi: A Dog’s Tale and was moved by the Akita’s plight. In response, she began writing a series of personal notebooks about the faithful Akita. Stephanie, now 15 and a resident of Bergano in northern Italy, is devoted to keeping the memory of Hachiko’s inspiring story alive. Through online research, she discovered that Kazuto Ueno, 77, a grandson of professor Hidesabuto Ueno lived in Tsu, Mie Prefecture. Stephanie sent messages to the government’s Multicultural Affairs Division seeking to connect with the professor’s grandson. The letters were translated to Japanese and forwarded to Ueno. Soon after, Ueno and Stephanie began a friendship by email. A Personal Letter to Hachiko On March 8, the 80th anniversary of Hachiko’s passing, a statue featuring Hachiko and his owner Hidesaburo Ueno was unveiled at the University of Tokyo. After the ceremony, Ueno’s grandson placed a letter with words from Stephanie’s notebooks: “Dear Hachi, Eighty years have gone by since you were called to heaven to be with your beloved master, but I am sure you are still close to us.” Ueno was so touched by the young fan’s devotion that he placed similar letters at the Hachiko and Ueno statue in Tsu, as well as the bronze Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station. “I have read so many things about how special you are: strong and dignified, pure and gentle, peacemaker among dogs. With lots of love,” wrote Stephanie in one of her notebook passages. Hachi Magic Another devoted fan is Stephanie’s mother, Anastasia, who reveals how it all came to be. “My daughter and I continue to love him as much as ever and when it came to choosing a subject for her end of school mini-thesis, Stephanie had no doubts at all, it had to be her furry best friend! We managed to contact Dr. Ueno’s descendent in Japan and he wrote us some lovely letters. One day a journalist from the Asahi Shimbun went to interview him for an article before the 80th memorial anniversary and Mr. Ueno told him all about Stephanie and her love for Hachiko. We were then contacted by this journalist, who wanted to write an article about it all and was kind enough to take a symbolic little letter from Stephanie “to Hachi”, and this was placed on the New Statue by Mr. Ueno on the day of the ceremony. He then sent us a photograph of that moment and Stephanie almost cried with happiness!! It is indeed a strange story, and Stephanie is convinced that it is Hachi who is working his magic after so many years as indeed we have met some amazing people through all this and have been impressed by the kindness of Japanese people.” Stephanie and her mother hope to one day visit Japan together, and personally say “Hi” to Hachi! As Ueno wrote to Stephanie, “Hachi kept waiting for his owner, so he must be waiting for you forever.” 2018 Update from Stephanie’s mother: “Stephanie was at high school and wrote to Mr. Ueno as she was writing a thesis on Hachi and his legacy. Almost ten years have gone by since then but it seems like yesterday! Most people imagine Stephanie to be younger than she is. A long time passed between her original letter to the Mie Government Office and the arrival of Kazuto Ueno’s letter before the unveiling of the new statue. I think it was the reporter, who found out about Stephanie during an interview with him prior to this event, that convinced him to be a part in this story…in any case it was a wonderful experience.  Stephanie is now married and works for an airline company in Milan, but Hachi still remains firmly in her heart! She travels abroad regularly attending courses aimed at improving customer service techniques.” When I received Stephanie’s gorgeous wedding photo, I could hardly believe it! In my mind, she was still that young girl who was crazy about Hachi! Anastasia and her daughter Stephanie are loyal Hachi friends. We’ve corresponded for years — sending updates on Hachi happenings around the world. In contribution to Hachi’s legacy, Anastasia created the popular Facebook page called Hachi & Friends. Like Stephanie and Anastasia, Hachi’s life compelled me to be a part of his enduring story. That’s how I came to make Hachi: A Dog’s Tale!

Petition to Release Hiroshi Hoshi and Leo Hoshi, Fukushima Animal Rescuers

Responding to the pleas from desperate animal owners, Hiroshi Hoshi and Leo Hoshi helped rescue animals that were “left behind” during the devastating tsunami in Japan two years ago. They saved over 200 animal lives and reunited beloved pets with their owners. ​During these efforts they witnessed the dire conditions of animals trapped inside the protected exclusion zone. On January 28th, 2013, the father and son rescue team were placed in custody at the Futaba Police station for illegally entering the exclusion zone. They were detained in separate holding facilities and have been jailed ever since. On February 19, both Hiroshi and Leo were charged with falsifying documents and entering the exclusion zone without authorization. Both father and son claim their efforts were necessary due to the lack of government effort in protecting the lives of starving pets and animals. To lend your support, please sign the petition at: https://www.change.org/petitions/free-hiroshi-hoshi-and-leo-hoshi-fukushima-animal-rescuers ​ To: Fukushima Japan, Chief Prosecutor Toru Sakai Your Honorable Mr. Sakai: On behalf of the Hachiko Animal Federation, Inc, a non-profit organization in the United States we humbly request that you release the Hoshi Family, Hiroshi and Leo on their own merit and without any bail. The Hoshi’s have actively rescued, cared for and placed animals in adoptive families for almost two years. Because of the unforeseen disasters in Japan, unfortunately, many of these animals were sadly left behind in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, or Nuclear Zone. It appears that there were no plans in place to deal with such drastic human circumstances and much less to include the animals that were people’s household pets. The Hoshi’s have actively rescued over 200 animals on their own with very limited monetary resources. The Hoshi Family is a humanitarian group and their sole mission has always been and remains one of altruism; to help reunite animals with their families or to find new families for animals in need. The Hachiko Animal Federation was formed to honor your national treasure and our mascot, Hachiko, the loyal Akita dog. Our mission was and remains to assist animal shelters in Japan as well as animal rescue groups and volunteers who received little or no aid from the Japanese government. Our group will continue to assist Fukushima animals and animals around the world. Your Honor, we ask that you take into account that the Hoshi’s were saving animals lives and they would not have become involved if the Government of Japan had only rescued and shown mercy to its animals left inside the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. We ask that you release Hoshi Hiroshi and Leo Hoshi as quickly as possible. ​For almost two years, the Hoshi Family has acquired a very large network of supporters in Japan, in the United States and internationally who are so grateful for all of the animals that they have been able to rescue, obtain medical treatment for, spay and neuter and, in the best case scenario, find homes for as well. These “happy endings” are something we all want. Surely, the Government of Japan would like this for the animals as well. We love Japan and hope that your great nation will rebuild and prosper. We would also like to tell our children and the world, that Japan did their best to help rescue animals and help the animal rescuers. We have asked the Ministry of Environment and the Fukushima Prefecture to rescue the surviving animals. To this day our request remains the same. Your Honor, please take into account the fact that the Hoshi Family’s goal was to save lives. They wanted nothing more then to end the suffering of the cats and dogs they encountered. Animal owners begged for them to go in to the Zone and try to save their animals. Once there, it was impossible for the Hoshi Family to leave without trying to help all of the animals that they saw. These volunteer animal rescuers are not criminals. They are humanitarians who love both people and animals and could not stand to see animals suffering. Please do all you can to release Hiroshi and Leo Hoshi as quickly as possible. Their families need them and so do their animals. We cordially thank you. The Hachiko Animal Federation U.S.A. Update: Hiroshi Hoshi and his son Leo were sentenced to three years in a Fukushima prison, but eventually released after four months. “There was no stove even in winter” Hiroshi Hoshi said, “I was seated in the middle of the room and I could not use a blanket.” Since then, the elder Hoshi has not been involved with much animal activism, but their Facebook page in Japan is still active.

Champion Racehorse Named After Hachiko Claims Another Race in India

Hachi’s Story Touches the Life of a Champion Race Horse. One year ago, to the day, Hachiko the horse won the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million (PBMM). The coveted race is the most sought-after competition after the India Derby. The newly crowned champion beat a good set of juveniles to claim the honor. Hachiko once again sped away by not only winning the Rusi Patel Trophy for top class horses on the PBMM day, but also etching out a new record previously held by Cabriolet, also owned by the Shirkes. Owner Vijay Shirke revealed the story behind how and why the horse was named Hachiko. “Hachiko is a Japanese dog that was immortalised by the Japanese people by erecting his statue at a railway station where he would come daily to wait for his master. He was so devoted he kept up his routine even when the master was no more. I was touched by that story because I am a dog lover myself, and my dog also is extremely devoted to me,” said Shirke. Thrilling Day for Childhood Friends Shirke and trainer Jadhav They have won many races, a number of Classics and the Invitation Cup as well, yet never the Poonawalla Breeders’ Multi-Million. The Poonawalla Breeders Multi-Million is a supreme test for youngsters and winning a race such as this one is indeed another high altogether,” Shirke said. For trainer Jadhav, the win was long awaited and he was ecstatic.  “I am happy for myself and even happier for Mr Vijay Shirke, as this was one race that had eluded him. Hachiko brought him this glorious triumph. I was particularly confident that Hachiko was in the condition to deliver, but I will also have to admit that I was tensed even though Hachiko was in the lead and going well. He is a special horse, and he has proved it. It was a close call in the end, although I was sure he would hold on once he shot into the lead,” said Mr Jadhav.  For the cosmopolitan crowd, it was an enjoyable day at the races. From the colorful women’s wear, enthusiastic crowd and luxury cars — the swanky atmosphere was one of pure fun for the attendees. After his decisive victory, Hachiko was led away to his air-conditioned stable. He certainly deserved a rest! Though the loyal Akita is gone, Hachiko’s name continues to carry on his incredible legacy. Since Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, many pets have been named Hachiko. Have you heard of any?

Sophie, 2-Year-Old Maltipoo, Heroically Saves Puppy From Coyote

Tiny Dog with a Big, Brave Heart! I receive emails about animal devotion, heroics and messages about faithful dogs from all around the world. Here’s another heartwarming story to share about Sophie, a very tenacious and brave dog friend. A sweet pup, Sophie had a life of ease for over a year when her family adopted a puppy named Lulu. Playmates for a few months, the two pups were playing in their backyard when a coyote lunged at Lulu. Sophie’s family heard a cry and raced out to see 2-year-old Sophie defending her 7-month-old sister. After scaring the coyote away, the family tended to the injured Sophie who suffered surface wounds to her neck, right shoulder and side. The family took the injured dog to a veterinarian, who stitched her up and put her on antibiotics. After the attack, the family decided that their backyard was too dangerous for the two dogs, so they took them to the Helen Woodward Animal Center. Located on 12 acres in San Diego County, California, the center is a no-kill non-profit organization that has helped animals for over 45 years. The story behind the woman whose name is on the center is fascinating in itself. Everybody Loves Sophie A few days after the incident, a local family adopted Lulu. Sophie, however, needed the supervision of veterinarians before she could find her forever home. Shortly after she healed from her procedure, Sophie’s story was on the news. “This hero protected her canine friend from a coyote!” reads a post on the Facebook page of the Helen Woodward Animal Center. Immediately, call started coming in from 11 different states to ask about adopting the “brave dog.” To field the many requests, the center asked applicants to write a 300-word essay about why they wanted to adopt the brave pup, said animal center spokeswoman Jessica Gercke. “It certainly is a story that seems to be resonating with people and moving people,” Gercke said. “I have taken her to a couple of media events, and when I walk through the lobby, people will stop me and ask, ‘Is that Sophie?” “Sophie is worth it,” said Shannon Bush, who works at the center. “She really embodies every characteristic people hope to find in a furry family member — loyalty, heart and sincere devotion.” According to a press release, Sophie’s new home will be unveiled during a “Mardi Paws” parade on Tuesday in Rancho Santa Fe. “We found the perfect family,” animal services manager Ed Farrelly said in the release. “We all want to celebrate and say goodbye.” Update: After fielding requests from all over the country, Sophie found her forever home with a family in Seal Beach, California. Kelly Hallmark and 8-year-old daughter Madison have a new family member after having lost two other dogs in the past few years. The single mom has always adopted rescued pets. Sophie’s new family has a female rescue dog named Charlie and a hamster named Frankie. They are sure to be safe with Sophie to the rescue! I love these stories of animal faithfulness. Besides Sophie, there are many loving animals in need of a forever home. Doesn’t Sophie’s story remind you of Hachi? It’s all about a dog’s special gift of loyalty.

Japan earthquake and tsunami anniversary: the man left behind in Fukushima

One man will always be associated with Fukushima’s animals – 55-year-old Naoto Matsumura, a former construction worker who lives in the 12.5 mile exclusion zone to care for its four-legged survivors. He is known as the “Guardian of Fukushima Animals” because of his volunteer work to feed the animals left behind by people who left due to the official evacuation order. “The next day, I heard the explosion at the plant,” he said. “I didn’t need anyone to tell me what had happened because the ‘boom’ was huge.” Living with his mother and father and a couple of locals in the house, they heard more explosions. “I didn’t mean to stay at first,” Matsumura admits. “I grabbed my family and escaped.” Matsumura initially fled south with his parents during the nuclear disaster. He then knocked on the door of my aunt’s house in Iwaki, but was not allowed inside due to their contamination. The untold human suffering and property damage left in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan has been well-documented, but there’s another population that suffered greatly that few have discussed – the animals left behind in the radioactive exclusion zone. “So we went to a nearby shelter, but they wouldn’t let us stay there either, so we went home,” he says. Upon his return in 2015, Matsumura realized local dogs had not eaten in days. One pup locked in a barn for a year survived on the remains of dead cattle. Matsumura named him Kiseki or “Miracle.” Shortly after, Mr Matsumura’s mother was taken ill so the rest of the family went to stay with relatives outside the exclusion zone. Matsumura now cares for the cattle, pigs, cats, dogs, and even ostriches that are now ownerless, a responsibility he took on partly by accident. “Our dogs didn’t get fed for the first few days. When I did eventually feed them, the neighbors’ dogs started going crazy. I went over to check on them and found that they were all still tied up. Everyone in town left thinking they would be back home in a week or so, I guess. From then on, I fed all the cats and dogs every day. They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck. Everywhere I went there was always barking. Like, ‘we’re thirsty’ or, ‘we don’t have any food.’ So I just kept making the rounds.” Matsumura: Highest Radiation Exposure in Japan “I was scared at first because I knew the radiation had spread everywhere,” he said of his initial days back home. “The next thought in my head was that if I stayed too long, I’d end up with cancer or leukemia. But, the longer I was with the animals, the more I came to see that we were all still healthy and that we would be OK.” Research has shown that he has been exposed to 17 times the amount of radiation that is considered normal. He is aware of the complications from radiation, but says that he “refuses to worry about it.” However, he is careful to eat only food imported into the zone. For a while he was eating local meat, fish and vegetables, so researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency wanted to run some tests on him. “When I went down and let them look me over, they told me I was the ‘champion,” he said, meaning he had the highest level of radiation exposure in Japan. “But they also told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 years. I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less.” Aftermath of Fukushima Accident Seeing that it was impossible to care for livestock in the evacuated zone, officials felt there was no option but to euthanize all cattle before they starved to death—an order that was given on May 12, 2011. Understandably, this decision upset Naoto. “If they were going to be used for meat it wouldn’t bother me,” he said. “That’s just the way life is. But why just slaughter them all and bury them? Animals and humans are the same. I wonder if they could kill people just as indiscreetly… In my book it would be better to adopt a wait-and-see approach because it could provide good experimental data for comparison with humans. If the animals survive, then maybe there’s nothing to worry about. But if the animals start giving birth to deformed young a few generations down the line, then things could get crazy. If that happens, they should never let anyone come back here.” “The citizens of Fukushima protest very little,” Matsumura said. “TEPCO took their houses, their land, the air, and the water, and they accept it! No one was angry. Before the construction of the nuclear power plant, TEPCO said, ‘Problems will never occur, never.’ Everyone has been cheated.” After a year, Mr Matsumura appears to prefer the company of his animals to humans. “I don’t get bored,” he says.”I am used to it, and anyway, there are lots of animals here so I’m never really alone.” Update: To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the disaster, Penn’s Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) and the Japanese Language Program held two connected events: a screening of Mayu Nakamura’s new documentary “Alone Again in Fukushima.” This film is an update on what happened in the exclusion zone since Matsumura first returned after the nuclear incident. Previously, Nakamura featured the animal rescuer in her 2015 documentary “Alone in Fukushima” follows Naoto Matsumura’s work feeding cattle, dogs, cats, and even ostriches (which the nuclear plant used as sort of live mascots before the disaster). “What I want people to remember is that although a lot of the things are reconstructed, Fukushima isn’t over. The nuclear reactor is still having problems, and what I worry is that people would forget about Fukushima after this 10th anniversary.”

Katherine Heigl Inspired by “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”

After watching Hachiko’s loyalty in the film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” Katherine Heigl started an initiative to help save homeless canines. The actress recently blogged for iVillage’s CelebVillage series voicing the importance of adopting pets and saving them from being killed each year, originally inspired by Hachiko’s loyalty in Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Heigl, along with her mother Nancy, founded the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, in honor of her late brother. Started around four years ago, the organization fights to change policies, raise awareness and stop the killing of adoptable dogs throughout Los Angeles. Hachiko’s Loyalty Spreads Awareness The actress is on a mission and nothing is going to stop her. “The message of “Hachi” is one of true unwavering loyalty, devotion, and love — and that’s just from the dog’s perspective. This emotional and spiritual connection between humans and companion animals comes as no surprise to me since I have had the great privilege of fostering just such relationships throughout my life. But I wondered if it came as a surprise to others,” she writes. “I began to think about the abandoned, the forgotten, the abused animals Nancy and I fight so hard for and asked myself, “Who is responsible?” Is it just the abusers or the reckless or the thoughtless that we should be pointing our fingers at, or are we as a society and community culpable too?” For Heigl, having a pet is more than just feeding and taking them for a walk, but it’s about loving them as a companion and having them love you back. Solving the Homeless Animal Crisis This animal lover is reaching out to protect these beings. “There is a crisis going on for our beloved friends and they need us. We can help, we can make a difference, we can change the outcome for millions of voiceless, innocent creatures who have done nothing more to deserve their outcome than be the product of a neglectful society.” According to Heigl, four million pets up for adoption are being killed in shelters each year because of overcrowding. She is trusting people will open their hearts and do the right thing. As she says, “These remarkable creatures have put so much trust and heart into the human race: Now all we have to do is deserve it.” Life Lessons from Her Pets In an interview in Dogster, Heigel is asked what she learned from her pets. “That life can turn on a dime! My little furry (Gertie) was next on the list to be killed at a Los Angeles shelter. When we pulled her, she had no teeth and was underweight. Other rescues passed her up, but we saw a diamond in the rough. Now she eats eggs at the Four Seasons and travels in the plane with me wherever I go. Talk about keeping hope alive! Heigel cherishes the best part of having animals in her life and home. “They help teach my children about caring for others, and help me to always remember the important things in life and that all life is a gift that we need to value.” Heigl’s 4 Ways to Help Animals Encourage family, friends and neighbors to rescue a pet versus buying one. Promote and support spay/neuter programs and education in our towns and cities. Donate time, money (even a dollar matters!) or supplies to local shelters. And, most importantly, when you curl up on the floor, sofa or bed with your most loyal friend, you can remember that the best way to honor the gift they are in our lives is to help their kind any way we can. It’s gratifying to hear whenever Hachiko’s loyalty promotes animal awareness. That’s why I wanted to make the film! Does Hachiko’s loyalty motivate you to help animals in need? 

The Stray Dog who Taught Me the Meaning of Loyalty

Our dogs mean so much to us. After all, they’re man’s best friend. But sometimes, as in the film, “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” — we don’t realize just how much we mean to them. The other day I watched the movie ‘Hachiko’ at home, surrounded by my sniffling family. I was perhaps too egotistic to admit that I too was bleary eyed and affected by the story of the dog, who waited every day for years, outside the railway station, for his dead master to return and died at the spot – loyal to the end. ‘Lilly’ was a black mongrel which strayed into our lives when I was about ten years old, when one of our domestic help found her cowering under the hedge and brought her shivering to my mother. In a family that already had a couple of dogs, she grew up on left-overs and relative neglect, into a large ugly black thing. I do not recall what prompted the decision, but one day she was put in a vehicle to be abandoned some forty miles away from Lahore near Sheikhupura. A Lesson in Loyalty Ten days later, we saw a shadow of the former Lilly totter up the drive to collapse with a wagging tail at my mother’s feet. Her front paws were a bloody mess and she had a nasty wound in her side, but she had set an example of canine loyalty by returning to the family that had so callously abandoned her. How she had managed to find her way back from forty miles, across the maze of city roads and through hazardous traffic is enigma. Her return changed her status in our household and she became a pet that she had always deserved to be, till the day she died of old age – happy, contented and much pampered. A befitting way to wind up this week’s column will be to write a few lines in tribute to the canines, which perform public service every day. These include those that act as the eyes and ears of sightless individuals and those that rescue victims from beneath tons of snow and collapsed concrete. Then there are the dogs that keep citizens safe by doing police and detective work and others who provide therapeutic companionship to terminally sick patient’s in hospital wards. No wonder that the species is rightfully called ‘man’s best friend’. Excerpt from Man’s Best Friend by Chauburji as published in “The Nation” newspaper, January 05, 2012. The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. He writes about history and Hachiko’s story of being a man’s best friend truly spoke to him. Do you have a story of animal loyalty to share?