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Tag: loyal

Hachiko resurfaces in black and white photo


Hachiko has been memorialized in everything from movies to statues, but a fuzzy, 81-year-old, black and white photograph of the famed Japanese dog is being greeted with excitement on the Internet since it surfaced on the Internet last month.

The old school photo of the Akita who became a symbol for loyalty after his owner’s death was found among the belongings of a Tokyo bank employee who died in 1947, The Japan News reported.

In the rare photo, by Isamu Yamamoto, Hachiko is pictured around 1934 laying on the pavement near the Shibuya railway station ticket counter in Tokyo, where he was known to wait every day for his master, Hidesaburo Ueno, to return home from work.

Ueno, who died in 1925, was an agriculture professor at the University of Tokyo. Hachiko would follow Ueno to and from the train station every day in the early 1920s.

While numerous pictures were taken of Hachiko, most were with other people, or taken as close-ups. Yamamoto’s photograph is reportedly one of the few that shows the train station in the background.

“Hachiko was a familiar sight to those living near Shibuya Station. I hope the photo my father took will be preserved carefully,” Yamamoto’s daughter, Yoko Imamura said.

Imamura said the photograph of Hachiko was found in one of her father’s photo albums.

Yamamoto’s family gave the photograph of Hachiko to Takeshi Ando, who created the second statue memorializing Hachiko. In 1934, Ando’s father, Teru Ando, erected the first bronze statue of Hachiko in front of Shibuya station.

“I have never looked at such a photo that caught the atmosphere of Hachiko’s everyday life at that time so well,” Takeshi Ando, 92, said.

The photo was first shared publicly by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which carried an article in its Oct. 22 edition. It was later translated into English and appeared in The Japan News and on its website on Nov. 5.

Since then the photo has drawn tens of thousands of “likes” on Facebook.

(Photo: Isamu Yamamoto)

A “loyal” robot dog is headed to the market


There is really only one reason we duly report on the latest robot dogs hitting the market, or headed that way: To show how sadly lacking in intelligence our own species is.

To think that technology — even WiFi-equipped technology — can replace a living, breathing dog is, after all, folly.

Nevertheless, the robot dogs keep coming as toy makers continue their futile effort to duplicate dog.

Expected to hit the market late next year is a dog called CHiP, which stands for Canine Home Intelligent Pet.

CHiP will be the first robot dog that’s able to show something resembling loyalty.

Even with that though, we don’t predict much of a future for CHiP. Still being fine tuned by a company called WowWee, CHiP will likely go the way of all robot dogs, from Sony’s AIBO to iCybee — into the garbage.

How CHiP differs from earlier versions of robot dogs — and there have been a few — is basically this. It has sensors that allow it to locate its ball and its bed and you, and it is equipped with Bluetooth, allowing you to connect with it from a band worn on your wrist.

This means it can do a cheap and phony imitation of one thing that up to now only real dogs could do: Get excited when you walk through the front door (assuming you program it to do so).

How sad a little life does the grown-up person who would do that have?

You get out of your car, pause at the front doorstep, tap your futuristic wrist band a few times, and presto, Chip will be waiting for you with tail a-wagging the second you unlock the door.

The $199 black-and-white robot pup, which won’t hit the marketplace until sometime next year, is said to have more smarts than its predecessors.

The head alone has an array of carefully hidden infrared sensors that give it a 360-degree view, which it uses to find its special ball and charging bed. Yes, it can perform a variaton of fetch. Yes,it can put itself to sleep at night and wake up all recharged and ready to go. Yes, it can even be “trained”.

With its Bluetooth and special “Smart Band,” reports, owners can, rather than displaying real love by petting their dog, send their dog “likes,” reinforcing those behaviors they want to make a regular part of the dog’s repertoire.

Mashable says CHiP looks like a cute, big-headed puppy (we disagree). We think, with it wheels, and shiny white plastic coat, and 360-degree sight line, it more resembles a freakish hybrid between dog and army tank, between Linda Blair in “The Exorcist” and a “Star Wars” storm trooper.

“It does seem alive,” Mashable reports, adding that the robot dog’s tricks include sitting, squatting, shimmying, dancing around and making dog sounds.

We can think of only one proper home for such a dog — with the kind of person who wants none of the responsibility of dog ownership, prefers superficial relationships and probably shouldn’t have a real dog in the first place.

Loyal dog honored by Washington governor

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Tillie, the setter mix who stood guard for a week after the basset hound she was roaming with fell into a cistern, was honored by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee last week.

Tillie, her basset hound friend, Phoebe, and their owner B.J. Duft were present as Gov. Inslee read a proclamation naming Tillie “Washingtonian of the Day” Thursday.

Inslee urged “everyone in Washington to celebrate the bravery and loyalty of this canine companion.”

Tillie was the first non-human to receive the honor.

“I saw this story and I just immediately said this is something Washington needs to celebrate,” Inslee said. “I grew up with Rin Tin Tin and Lassie and I never thought I’d meet a real dog that had that type of Hollywood character, but Tillie’s right here.”

Both dogs have been enjoying some newfound fame in Vashon, about 20 miles southwest of Seattle, since they wandered off from their home in early September.

A week later they were found — 4-year-old Phoebe stuck in the bottom of shallow cistern, 11-year-old Tillie watching over her.


They were discovered by a volunteer from Vashon Island Pet Protectors, who snapped the photo to the left.

Duft, who said the dogs escaped from his property through a hole in the fence, was ecstatic when he learned they’d been found.

“It really made me think a lot about their friendship and Tillie’s commitment to her companion, that’s for sure,” Duft told the Associated Press.

The governor has bestowed about 70 “Washingtonian of the Day” certificates since taking office.

Duft said both dogs are now sporting GPS collars.

(Top Photo: Duft, second from left, holds his dogs as they visit with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, far left; AP Photo by Ted S. Warren. Bottom photo courtesy of Vashon Island Pet Protectors)

Dog keeps vigil amid tsunami’s devastation

We don’t know the story behind these two dogs — other than they are obvious victims of the tsunami in Japan.

We don’t know the outcome — whether they’ve been rescued or not.

We don’t know what the commentator is saying.

But we do know this: It’s going to make you cry.

The video was brought to our attention by Karen, an American living in Yokohama, Japan.

“I’ve been a fan of your blog for some time, and today I want to bring your attention to a news footage uploaded on YouTube about two dogs surviving in the ruins of a city destroyed by the tsunami.

“It was filmed by a TV crew of Fuji Television, who mistakenly attributed the dog’s behavior as ‘stay away’ when in fact it was probably seeking help for the second dog, which the reporter assumed was dead.

“The dogs apparently were just left there, and there is no update as to whether they were subsequently rescued (I doubt they were). People have been writing to Fuji Television asking that they disclose the whereabouts of the dogs and assist in their rescue.

“I hope you can write about this the dog that stayed behind to take care of its friend, and ask your readers to pray for the dogs’ safety.”

UPDATE:  An unconfirmed report states the two dogs have been rescued. Kenn Sakurai, whose Facebook page describes him as the president of a Japanese pet food company who is helping with the rescue of animals, reports on Facebook that the two dogs have been rescued:

“We have already got these dog … Both dogs brought to Mito, Ibaraki. One is staying at the vet clinic and the brown and white one is at the shelter,” he wrote.

“We’d be better off if we acted more like dogs”

In his weekly commentary on CBS’ “Face the Nation” yesterday, Bob Schieffer passed along some anonymous wisdom, well worth sharing, about what we can learn from dogs.

The most disloyal dog breed?

Slate has a popular feature called “The Explainer,” which addresses those nagging questions the news leaves unanswered — be they too weighty, too trivial or just too weird.

Every year, the online magazine lets readers pick from submitted questions that never made the column, and choose what they call the “Explainer Question of the Year.”

Then the column answers it.

For 2008, after deeming the three top vote getting questions already sufficiently answered– including why cockroaches flip over on their backsides when they die – Slate named the No. 4 vote-getter as question of the year: What’s the most disloyal dog breed?

Slate’s answer: ”Nobody knows.”

The column’s author, Daniel Engber, writes that while conventional wisdom holds that each of the 161 breeds now recognized by the American Kennel Club has a distinctive temperament, the reality is the there is less difference, behaviorally, between breeds than ever.

The reason? Most dogs have lost their jobs.

Dogs once bred for a specific task — to herd, to guard, to hunt — are now bred primarily to make good companions or win dog shows. The traits a breed might once have clearly exhibited were tied in large part to how we used them. So a working dog, trained to guard property, might at one point might have been deemed most “loyal.” Today, though, the personality of dogs can vary tremendously within a particular breed.

Breeds might still have certain predilections, but any sweeping statements about dogs of a certain breed should be taken with a grain of salt — whether they’re about pit bulls or poodles.

Of course, plenty of people are still making them, and are still a little to quick to do what — were it applied to humans — would amount to “profiling.”

 Hats off to Slate for not falling into that trap.