Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dog Heroes

Dogs are no doubt man's best friends. During my visit of the US Air Force Museum, this dog with a parachute on his back caught my attention. This small exhibit honors "Vittles," the forgotten dog hero of the 1948-49 Berlin airlift. Vittles accompanied American planes on 131 missions to deliver aid behind the Iron Curtain.

Our next dog hero is a Japanese. Before going to Tokyo, visiting Hachikō statue at Shibuya station was already on my list. I learned about the touching story of this faithful dog from Chris Marker's genius documentary Sans Soleil. Hachikō statue is a very popular meeting spot. When I found Mr. Hachikō by the station one night, I was surprised to see how small he appears to be and how he was buried by the crowds around.

A natural connection is the13-Dog Statue at the entrance of Tokyo Tower, erected by Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1959. An incredible story goes behind it: 13 sled dogs (Sakhalin huskies) were left behind in Antarctica by a Japanese research expedition in 1958 due to an emergency evacuation. Almost a year later a subsequent expedition arrived and found two of the dogs still alive! This true story probably inspired the Disney movie Eight Below.

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