A Lesson on Loyalty


The story of Hachiko represents a heartbreaking story while at the same time possessing a heartwarming lesson. Born in 1923, Hachiko was an Akita dog adopted by Ueno Hidesaburo, a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. For months Hachiko would walk with his master to Shibuya Station, where Uneo would board the train for the city and his job at the university. Once the train left, Hachiko would go home and then return to the station to meet his master. This ritual continued until May 1925, when Uneo died of a cerebral hemorrhage while teaching. Hachiko waited that day for a master that would not return. He would return the next afternoon and continue the afternoon trek for nine years until his death in 1935. The family would try to give him away, but he would eventually run away and make the daily journey to the station. People would feed him and try to get him to stay home but to no avail. Today he is known as “chuken Hachiko,” faithful dog Hachiko with a statue erected in memory of his loyalty to his master beside whom his ashes rest buried, in the corner of Uneo’s grave.

I have often heard the statement, “Those true to you are the ones there when everyone else has left.” One of our most precious blessings is the company of those always by our side, no matter the circumstances. One of the lessons the story of Hachiko teaches shows what it means to love someone so much that you will always be there for them.

Statue of Hachiko

Years ago, I came across a story by Cindy Richards entitled “Thank You, Lord.” She tells of being atop Clingman’s Dome in the Smokey Mountains with some friends when she noticed a woman pushing a man in a wheelchair making their way to the top. The man was talking to the woman, but she couldn’t hear what he said. She noticed that he wore trousers but that the area below his knees was vacant of life. She watched as the aging couple reached the summit and stared at the magnificent view with the man still talking. “I heard the man say one more step, then stop, Sarah.’ She did as he said, then he looked out over the trees and exclaimed, ‘Oh Sarah, the sky is so blue – the sun is shining – do you feel how warm it is? I can look down on the trees, Sarah.’ He was smiling and he talked excitedly as a child. Then he took his wife’s hand and said, “I wish you could see this with me,’ and she smiled and said, ‘I wish you could stand with me.’ You see, he couldn’t walk, but she couldn’t see.”

Being loyal is not always easy, but it is never a burden when you genuinely love someone. Loyalty means you’ll always be there. Loyalty cannot be measured in words, only by our actions Words are easily spoken; “I’m praying for you;” “I’m there for you;” “I love you;” “Call me if you need anything:” These phrases, and other similar ones, within themselves are empty if not followed by action.  

Jesus chose twelve men to help carry His words to the world. Of the twelve, eleven remained loyal and met their deaths or were exiled for staying loyal and faithful to the mission he handed them. Today, we are encouraged to remain loyal to our loved ones, friends, and especially to the cause Jesus has placed before us. As Jesus told his followers, the consequences of remaining loyal to Him hold both a curse and a blessing. He tells them, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”  “Matthew 10:22 (NASB)

You may say, “Hachiko was only a dog.” However, his devotion exemplifies what makes true love and loyalty. To hold these two attributes brings us closer to being like Jesus. “He who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness, and honor.”  Proverbs 21:21 (NASB)

(Note: The story of Hachiko is given an American twist in the movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.” The true story is in an older Japanese film, “Hachiko Monogatari.”)

Danny Minton is a former Elder and minister at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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