Friday, December 31, 2010

Hachi and Patsy Ann

There are certain films that I can no longer watch. 
For instance, every Christmas season, Deb just can’t refrain from gazing across the room on a cold winter’s eve and saying, “Hey, Tough Guy! How’s about you and me sitting down and watching It’s a Wonderful Life?”
I’ve learned to get up and stare out the window, and say, “You know Sweetie, I’d love to, but Jack and I found a bear den the other day. I think the conditions are perfect for me to go out and crawl into that hole to see if I can actually tap a bear on it’s rump with my bare hand without waking it up this time.”
“Come on. Admit it. You’d rather risk life and limb than sit here sobbing in front of the television.”
All I can do at that point is cast a withering glance in her direction, put on my heavy duty bomb proof ice fishing clothes, and go out and hug the goats, llamas and horses for the next 130 minutes.

Well, darn. There’s a new kid on the DVD block.  It’s called Hachi, and if you haven’t seen it, then, when your wife rents it, consider coming on over and we’ll do a little North Woods Bear Tapping.
The story is about an Akita that greets its owner at the train station every day after work, and when the owner dies, Hachi continues his daily vigil for ten years after that. The film takes place in the U.S., but the real Hachi and his master lived in Japan in the 1920’s. Today there is a bronze statue of Hachi outside the Shibuya train station in commemoration of his undying loyalty.
This reminded me of another dog statue that we saw in Juneau, Alaska. It honors Patsy Ann, “The Official Greeter of Juneau.”  A Bull Terrier, born in Portland, Oregon in1929, she and her owner came to Juneau as a pup. Patsy Ann was stone deaf from birth, but she somehow "heard" the whistles of approaching ships long before they came into sight, and headed at a fast trot for the wharf. And she was never wrong. Once, a crowd was given erroneous information and gathered at the wrong dock. Patsy Ann glanced at the crowd, sighed, then turned and trotted to the correct dock to wait.
  She died in 1942. On the following day, a small crowd watched as her coffin was lowered into Gastineau Channel. Her sculpture now sits, watching and waiting with eternal patience, whether shrouded in fog, bathed in sunshine or covered with snow.
 She died in 1942. On the following day, a small crowd watched as her coffin was lowered into Gastineau Channel. Her sculpture now sits, watching and waiting with eternal patience, whether shrouded in fog, bathed in sunshine or covered with snow.
 The other day, I watched a NOVA special on dogs, and there is a theory that human civilization could not have advanced without dogs. Evidently, wherever there are human remains, there is also evidence of dogs, and they think that without dogs to keep vigil over livestock and crops, mankind could not have advanced past the hunter gatherer stage.

Did you know that the Latin term for being faithful and loyal is fidēlis? That is why you are supposed to name your dog Fido.

Well, I have four Fidos, all of which are pretty darned loyal, but it’s hard to imagine one more attentive and loyal than our old Aussie, Sprocket. She’s kind of on a downhill slide, but her spirit is unfailing.

When she dies, I don’t know that I’ll be commissioning any bronze statues, or scripting any Indie films about her life.

One thing is for sure, though. If a film were ever made about her, I’d have to try to find every winter bear den in Forest County.
P.S.: Don’t even get me started on Old Yeller or The Yearling.


  1. I can't imagine a world without dogs or pets for that matter. Life would be so dull. They keep us entertained, loved and warm. How many people can live up to that? Happy New Year.

  2. The dogs in my life pull just as hard on my heart. I can't watch films or read read books like that... hurts too much. I'd be out trying to tag bears too. Our dogs keep us civilized. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  3. hey! are you still blogging? i have been out of touch for so long! i was trying to find you toffee recipe and lost it. are you still out there??!!!

  4. Wonderful post today. I did not about the origin of naming a dog Fido.

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