The death of a pet can be devastating for anyone, but the loss is often monumental for a person living alone.

I am convinced that my dad wouldn’t have agreed to open heart surgery if it hadn’t been for his cat, Misty. My mother had died and in many ways he wanted to die as well. But he wondered aloud, “Who will take care of Misty?”  When I said I would take her, he insisted that I couldn’t take care of Misty like he could. He was right. Misty was in love with my dad not with me, so nothing I did would ever be as good.

Thankfully my dad survived the surgery and the two of them took care of each other until Misty was put down at 18 because of stomach cancer. It was difficult to watch my dad pretend he wasn’t crushed. Soon a picture of Misty appeared on top of the television, and anyone who watched TV in that house had to watch Misty as well.

I have had both cats and dogs and, while each cat has had a unique personality, I have to admit that the interaction I’ve had with my dogs has been more enriching and intimate. Someone once said that a dog brings the charm and joy of a child and none of the trials of growing up! So true.

No matter their size, shape or color, Ralph, Rosie, Rover, and Max let us know with every pounce and wiggle that we matter… and… further… that there will never a time when we won’t.

The story of Hachiko

Recently I read the story of a man and his dog, which began in 1925 and could have ended in 1934, but it didn’t—thanks to the Japanese public.

Hachiko walked with his master, Professor Ueno, to Tokyo’s Shubuya train station every day, and then waited patiently for his master to return on the 3pm train. Tragically Ueno suffered a fatal stroke while at work one day and, of course, didn’t return to meet Hachi.

Hachi was given to another family but he continued to return to the train station every day – for nine years – before passing away in the same spot where he had last seen his master.  When I read this story I assumed that Hachi and Professor Ueno had been together for years prior to Ueno’s death. Not true. Ueno and Hachi were together for only one year and yet, the professor never ceased to matter to Hachi.

The Tokyo citizens were so enchanted with Hachi’s dedication that they commissioned a bronze statue of Hachiko to mark the entrance of the Chibuya train station.  Hachi was still alive at the time and attended his own dedication.  Here are a few touching old photographs of the timeless story.