Chico, the last of the three Akitas who together played the part of Hachi, passed away on Saturday morning, August 4, 2018. Co-stars Layla (his real sister) and Forrest are now reunited over the Rainbow Bridge.
The first time I saw Chico was at Boone’s Animals for Hollywood training ranch. He had just arrived and I couldn’t wait to meet him! It was so exciting back then. I had no background in filmmaking — I was just this huge dog lover. Meeting this magnificent Akita was overwhelming to me. He was simply perfect!
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale was Chico’s first acting role, yet this novice Akita illuminated the screen with his compelling and incandescent presence. He enjoyed a healthy, happy, and active life — sharing his sweetness with friends, family, and the numerous strangers who crossed his path. To most, he was benevolently aloof. To a special few, he was outgoing and affectionate. Either way, his attention felt like a gift.
Special thanks to animal trainer Mark Harden who guided Chico to his stellar performance. Their connection was deep, and Mark adopted Chico after the shoot. To summarize their deep love, I’ll share Mark’s own words:
I wanted to let you know before you found out elsewhere, Chico has passed on. Your movie brought me together with this wonderful beast who became my best friend. I will always be in your debt. He had an extraordinary life and thankfully only a very brief infirmity.
Chico “Clapton” Harden
July 31, 2005 – August 4, 2018
The three Akitas will be remembered for their moving portrayal of the true-life story of Hachiko, the loyal dog of 1930’s Japan. Through “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, their spirits will live on and continue to capture the hearts of viewers everywhere.
To commemorate Chico’s life, you can leave your love note below. After, visit our Facebook page for more tributes to Chico.