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Movie Review and Summary: Hachiko - A Dog's Story

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Dog breeds: the Akita

 If you fall in love with the Akita dog breed after watching Hachiko: A Dog's Story, please research the breed before running out and purchasing one. You might end up with a lot more dog than you bargained for. If you don't have much experience with strong, dominant dogs, there are plenty of other dog breeds that would be more suitable for you and your family.

Two nights ago, my daughter brought over a movie for me to watch: Hachiko –A Dog’s Story. I was already familiar with the tale. As a former Akita owner, I had read the history of the breed and had run across the true story of Hachiko. Since the real Hachi and his owner lived in Japan, I couldn’t figure out how Richard Gere, an American, was going to pull this off.

As soon as I began watching the film, I realized that it is an American re-telling. It’s set in the U.S., and all the characters are typical Americans. I guess that’s not important. Love and devotion transcend international boundaries and cultural differences.

Gere plays a college professor who finds a lost puppy wondering around a train station. When he can’t find the pup’s owner, he winds up keeping the dog. The professor’s Japanese pal identifies the puppy as an Akita and explains pertinent facts about the breed. He also suggests a name for the pooch – Hachiko, or Hachi, for short.

Hachi and the professor form an extremely strong bond. Every morning, Hachi walks to the terminal with its owner, and every afternoon at five, the dog returns to wait for the professor.

One day the professor doesn’t return from work. Hachi waits for hours, until the professor’s daughter comes to take it home.

Every day for ten long years, Hachi returns to the station in anticipation of its master’s arrival at the train station. Vendors and employees at the terminal feed Hachi, but the dog never accepts another master. Hachi finally dies at the terminal, still waiting for his beloved master.

My daughter told me to have some Kleenex on hand for the flick, but I scoffed at her warning. I knew the story, so I didn’t think I would cry. Actually, I was somewhat disappointed with the first part of the movie. It was pretty slow in places, and I guess I wanted to see more interaction between man and dog.

The ending, however, took me by surprise. It ended the way I knew it would, but the way the movie handled it was extremely poignant. It wasn’t so much sad as it was touching, in a bittersweet sort of way.

I think one problem with the film is how it will affect the viewing public. It portrays Akitas as big loveable teddy bears, even to total strangers. The typical Akita isn’t like this. Most are very wary of strangers and are generally one-person dogs. Even though Hachi remains loyal to the professor in the movie, he allows complete strangers to pet and hug him – atypical of most Akitas I’ve known.

The fear is that this movie will start an “Akita fad.” Uninformed dog enthusiasts will run out and buy an Akita, thinking it will grow up to be just like Hachiko. They buy a cuddly ball of fur and are taken by surprise when it matures into an alpha dog with an attitude. When they discover that they have a powerful, dominant dog, it might end up in a shelter or rescue, as many Akitas do.

I'm not saying that Akitas are a bad breed. For the right owner, they make wonderful pets and companions and are extremely loyal and protective. They need an owner who has some experience with dog handling and dog training, however.

My advice is to watch the film and admire Hachi’s undying loyalty, and then go home and pat your Lab on the head.

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Comments

Aurel on January 18, 2013:

Hiks. . .hiks. . .Hachiko make me cry. ."

Anita Slaughter on February 01, 2012:

I watched this movie and cried Buckets!!! I think this is a very useful and interesting hub. Good advice to folks that don't know this breed of dogs, as I for one don't. You did a great review of the movie!

mild on January 20, 2012:

hachiko is very sad story.

myawn from Florida on December 15, 2011:

nice hub I want to see this movie sounds great but sad I love dogs,but didn't know much about the Akita.Thanks!

Rahima on October 21, 2011:

wowowo really

KENEXERS on September 26, 2011:

Its so very nice movie and so amazing

Fins from Killeen, Texas on September 18, 2011:

I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your warning to people about rushing out to buy an Akita after seeing the movie; dog rescue groups are overrun with animals that were impulsively bought without enough research into the kinds of households they fit well in. Thank you for advocating responsible dog ownership (and a great movie!)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 21, 2011:

Dany, it makes me cry, too!

Swati, Akitas don't tolerate heat well. They can also be very wary or even aggressive with strangers. They're nothing like golden retrievers. These are strong-willed dogs that can be difficult to handle. Thanks for reading!

swati on June 11, 2011:

hey habee, love ur review.. n yes ur rite i do feel like buying an akita dog rite now .. but i do have a lot f experiences of handling big dogs like the german shephard n golden retrievers .. but pls cud u be more specific bout the dog .. like how does it react to unknown ppl.. can it survive in summers upto 45 degree centigrates.. wat r the extra care required with it .. etc ...

id really appreciate ur word !!thanx

Adnan Abbas (Dany) on June 08, 2011:

this movie made me cry . when ever i remember the scene , waiting outside train station , i dont know why i feel that im crying.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on May 17, 2011:

Antonio, glad youliked it!

Rei, I felt the same way about the Hachiko movie!

Rei on April 26, 2011:

As a dog lover i became interested immediately when i heard about the movie (and the original one in Japanese).

This movie was so simple yet so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, it totally caught me offguard. I think i went through a whole box of tissue and my eyes where all puffy and red after watching it! And i'm the type of guy who usually scoffs at mushy films.

It made me appreciate more the bond i currently have with our own dog (he's an adorable mini dachsie).

Antonio Sandoval on March 31, 2011:

thank for post this article for all of us

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 11, 2011:

Rupal, the Hachiko movie made me cry, too!

RUPAL on March 04, 2011:

It's really a gr8 movie... Every dog lover must b c it... The dog did a wonderful job... 1st time i saw in HBO and i cried

Rupal on March 04, 2011:

It's really i greai movie.... Every dog lover must be c this movie....

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 01, 2011:

Lea, I found one. Thanks!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 01, 2011:

Thanks, Claie. I really enjoyed Hachiko!

Lea on February 20, 2011:

I see typo error. :)

claire on February 16, 2011:

it's about loyalty and friend.....nice

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 04, 2011:

Sugar, Hachiko was a real tear jerker for me!

Ranz, I agree. I really enjoyed it.

Sage, did it make you cry??

sagebrush_mama from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound! on January 31, 2011:

I loved this movie...the kids picked it out on Netflix a while back, and it was a winner!

ran'z on January 29, 2011:

wat aa nice movie

sugar on January 20, 2011:

he is soooo quit

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 18, 2010:

Yep! A true story!

anna justin on December 14, 2010:

it was so great

i can't really there is a true hachiko......

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on December 05, 2010:

KL, I love movies about dogs!

Destiny, my two Akitas were awesome!

destiny on December 04, 2010:

hachiko is faithful,and i love him.if i get an akita-ken(akita)im going to name him Hachiko or hachi for short.

KLeichester on November 30, 2010:

I like this. Thanks.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 14, 2010:

Karen, I cried, too!

karen pearl on November 14, 2010:

i love it when i watched it on youtube. i cried a lot. :'(

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 26, 2010:

Thanks, Hannah and Michael!

Micheal Johnson on October 15, 2010:

Good movie and a nice review on it

hannahm. on October 07, 2010:

I love this movie! Thanks for the info habee!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 24, 2010:

Cool! Thanks for reading!

kb24fanatic from philippines on September 24, 2010:

I have watched this movie and I like it a lot!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 07, 2010:

Let me know what you think!

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on September 06, 2010:

I have never heard of this movie?? I am adding it to my Netflix cue immediately. Thanks for this! :)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 06, 2010:

Glad you liked it!

sameerk from India on August 05, 2010:

very nice info,thank u habee for sharing

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 02, 2010:

Wow - that's cool!

minatoku from Japan on August 01, 2010:

I've been to the station where the real hachiko always waited. There's a nice statue of Hachiko and it's become a popular meeting place. "I'll meet you in front of hachiko"

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on June 30, 2010:

so did I!

ppk on June 29, 2010:

this is realy d8t movie ...i cried yaa

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on May 23, 2010:

I think you'd like the movie, Mrpopo!

mrpopo from Canada on May 20, 2010:

I was familiar with the tale, but I didn't know of the movie retelling. I found it to be a great story though, albeit tragic.

Thanks for the Hub Habee :)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on May 13, 2010:

Vanidiana, thanks for reading!

vanidiana from Depok, Indonesia on May 13, 2010:

A very critical view, thanks for sharing!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 13, 2010:

I'm with you, Peachie. Shelters don't need more Akitas.

Peachie on April 11, 2010:

I loved the movie. As a person owned by an Akita I will be the first to say that I hope a fad is not started. I love my girl but they are not a dog for everyone. They are hard headed and strong willed. I hate to think of all the regal Akitas that would end up in shelters.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 14, 2010:

Ya know, Bpop, Gere looks better to me now that he's older!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 14, 2010:

You got that right, Sis!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 14, 2010:

Audrey, from what I've read, the Akita in the movie, Forrest, is an unusually gentle and social member of the breed.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 14, 2010:

Right, Silver - an iron fist in a velvet glove!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 14, 2010:

Michael, so am I!

breakfastpop on March 14, 2010:

I will try and get this movie more for Richard Gere than the dog!

Angela Blair from Central Texas on March 14, 2010:

Great review, Habee. Like you said -- Akitas are just not for everyone (and aren't Teddy Bear types). Best, Sis

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on March 14, 2010:

If it has a dog and Richard Gere, how can I go wrong! Somehow I can't imagine Richard Gere handling an akita but that's hollywood!

Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on March 14, 2010:

Too true, it takes a special kind of person to handle an Akita.

Michael Shane from Gadsden, Alabama on March 14, 2010:

I can't wait to see it! Im a sucker for dog movies...Thanks Habee!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 14, 2010:

HH, you can rent it and watch it at home!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 14, 2010:

Thank you for this eye opener. Hardly going out because of my Hub-addiction, I would have missed it. Habee, just keep me informed of the outside world hahaha

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 13, 2010:

Yes, Sandy! Let me know what you think!

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 13, 2010:

Another film I need to see.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 13, 2010:

Pam, if you're a dog lover, you'll enjoy the movie!

Sheila, thanks a million!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 13, 2010:

Let me know how you like it, Eth!

sheila b. on March 13, 2010:

Great review, and I liked your last line!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 13, 2010:

Thanks for a good review of this movie. It's not one I am familiar with.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 13, 2010:

I hope it does not start such a trend. I do fancy this film having seen some clips and read your review. Good job