Celebrating Agility Titles

In dog agility, the one event that tends to matter most seems to be the Standard course. This is not surprising, given the Standard course is the most traditional of courses -- no matter where you are in the world, Standard refers to an agility course that is numbered and sequential, and that contains the greatest variety of obstacles (jumps, contacts, weaves, tunnels). While every type of agility course has its challenges for every team, Standard is often the most valued due to the perfection that is required in order to qualify -- aka, to successfully complete what is considered a 'perfect run' in the record books.

Recently, Miles and I and our good friends and weekly practice buddies all earned titles in our respective Standard classes. These titles are all HUGE for all three of our teams! For Miles and I, and Melanie and Mia, these titles mark the second time in 30 years that either of our dog's breeds have achieved these titles. Mia is the second Pit Bull to ever earn her MADC, and Miles is the second Welsh terrier to ever earn his AADC. While there may be other labs with their ADC, Liana has overcome a unique challenge with Eberle. Eberle is so friendly, that Liana has worked very hard with her to be able to complete courses without Eberle stopping to say "Hello! I love you!" to each and every person in the ring!!

Given that the three of us friend teams had recently gotten all three levels of Standard titles, I felt it was time for a celebration! Sure, the dogs had already gotten tons of treats. Liana, Melanie and I are all extremely close with our dogs, and reward them heartily the second they pull off such amazing feats. But WE had yet to really celebrate. Today I decided to bake us some special people treats. I have been wanting to try this recipe for homemade Milano cookies, so this seemed like the perfect time to make them.

Is there anything more amazing looking than melting chocolate?

Watching cookies bake...

Watching cookies cool...

Miles decided to "help" by stealing my hot pads and parading around the apartment with them. Thanks Miles. I guess this is just proof of how hard-earned our title was?

I piped our titles onto our special celebratory cookies.

The cookies, all packed up and ready to party.

Nothing is better than celebrating hard-earned success with good friends.

Miles Bytes

Miles does zoomies around our apartment to celebrate
spring, and runs into a neighbor in the process.

Miles is intimidated by the neighbor -- but curious about what she's
up to. My favorite part is when he considers peeing after she does,
but decides that he'd better stay alert, cautious, and safe instead!

Later that day, Miles entertained himself while we waited in the
 lineup at the bank, by stretching and watching the traffic outside.

Ah, spring is here!

Hachikō 忠犬ハチ公: A Story of Loyalty, Loss, and Finally, a Happy Ending

March 8th of this year will mark the 80-year anniversary of the passing of one of the most loyal dogs in all of history, and will give rise to a new statue in honor of the bond between a remarkable dog, and his beloved human.

Hachikō was born at the end of 1923, the eighth pup in a litter of Akita Inus. When Hachikō was 8 weeks old, Hidesaburō Ueno, who worked as an agricultural professor at the University of Tokyo, brought the young puppy home. He named him Hachikō, a play off of the number eight (hachi means eight in Japanese), after his place in the litter.

The two developed a deep bond, and when Hachikō was about six months old, he began joining Dr. Ueno’s other two dogs in their daily routine: at rush hour, the three dogs would trot over to the Shibuya train station to greet Dr. Ueno as he returned from work.

One day the following year, the professor did not return on the train. He had suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage while at work. Hidesaburō Ueno was only in his mid-fifties when he died on May 21, 1925. After Mr. Ueno’s passing, his wife and their other two smaller dogs moved in with their adult daughter, who was a new mother. Hachikō went to live with their long time gardener, who was able to accommodate the very large dog – Hachikō weighed around 90 pounds!

Hachikō continued walking to the train station on his own every single day after Mr. Ueno's death. He was undeterred by the initial irritation of many commuters and local vendors. Eventually, he became a well-loved fixture of the station, and people began bringing him food and treats. Some kind people even took him for medical care throughout the years. He was also visited frequently with great affection by Mrs. Ueno.

Seven years into his daily vigil at the train station, Hachikō became a media sensation. A few years later, in the last year of his life, he was present at the unveiling ceremony of a statue in his likeness at the station.

{  Photograph of of Hachikō, taken shortly before his death in 1935  }

Hachikō passed away in 1935, of terminal cancer and a heartworm infection. Hachikō's death was met with great sadness all across Japan. Hachikō’s story of loyalty and perseverance has been an honored national symbol ever since, and his statue at Shibuya Station in Tokyo attracts countless visitors every year. Every year in Japan since 1936, a ceremony is held at the station to honor Hachikō’s memory.

Hachikō spent nine years, nine months, and fifteen days in total waiting for his beloved professor to return. 

In 1987, a movie was made about Hachikō, entitled ハチ公物語, The Tale of Hachikō.  The film was a great success in Japan. In 2009, an American remake of the film was also made, called Hachi: A Dog's Tale, starring Richard Gere. Although both movies are good fictional tales, I personally believe the real story of Hachikō is the very best one. There are a few interesting non-fiction books about Hachikō, and even more children's books about his story. Many parents appreciate the lessons these special children's books teach children - from demonstrating the power of loyalty and friendship, to instilling the importance of respect and affection for other animals.

This year, on the 80th anniversary of Hachikō’s death, a very special new statue will be unveiled at The University of Tokyo. The recently revealed clay prototype shows a joyous Dr. Ueno and Hachikō reuiniting. The statue is the purest visual of the deep bond between dog and human. Dr. Ueno is bent to greet Hachikō, and Hachikō is jumping up to his friend. The statue's theme is a great contrast from many previous sculptures of Hachikō, which usually show him sitting still, upright, and dignified - alone and stoic. The new statue is full of warmth and love, and will finally allow Hidesaburō Ueno and Hachikō to be together again, after 90 long years.

{  Photos of clay prototype courtesy of The University of Japan  }

Interesting fact:

A former student of Mr. Ueno ended up becoming an expert in Akitas. In a survey that he conducted of the Akita breed, he discovered that Hachikō was one of the remaining 30 or so purebred Akitas left in Japan. Japanese Akitas are one of the most ancient domesticated dogs still in existence, making Hachikō one of the most famous dogs of all time to come from an ancient bloodline.