Abandoned dog waits daily for owner

SINGAPORE - Its soulful eyes. Its patience - seemingly waiting at the same spot every day for its owner's return.

These had earned the abandoned dog the name of Tampines Hachiko by residents and dog rescuers.

The original Hachiko in Japan was remembered for its remarkable loyalty to its owner, waiting for him at Shibuya Station even many years after the owner's death in 1925.

Residents said the Tampines dog, a 1½-year-old male mixed breed, was left more than a month ago at the park connector near Tampines Street 43.

And it waited at the same spot, day and night, under hot sun and in the pouring rain, for its owner to return.

"It would not budge. It just sat there, waiting, even in the heavy downpour," dog rescuer Gowri Thamotharan told The New Paper. But a dog trainer said this could be because someone was feeding it.

Efforts to make friends with the canine, whom they called Hachi for short, and to lure it to safety, were met with wary stares.

One Tampines resident, a 70-year-old retiree who gave his name as Uncle Lee, said: "This dog is very tame, it tried to make friends even with the stray cats around the place. It does not chase or growl at passers-by."

Ms Gowri said: "Once I placed a bowl of food near it. It came, sniffed at it and carried the bowl away to another corner to eat."

A few of the rescuers also noticed that Hachi would play with their dogs whenever they brought them along.

But "it just would not allow us humans to touch or pet it".

Afraid that someone might have complained and the authorities would act, concerned residents, with the help of other dog lovers, tried several times to capture and re-home it.

"It turned out that Hachi is very clever. It took a week and five rescue attempts before we managed to catch him," Ms Gowri said.

"During one rescue attempt, it managed to chew through the net and escape."

The story of Tampines Hachiko echoed a similar case in Jurong East a year ago. A collarless labrador, aged about seven, would return to the same void deck in Jurong East Avenue 1 every day to wait for its master.

Like its Tampines namesake, the Jurong dog was also shy and wary of people and did not like to interact with passers-by. It took 47 days to capture the Jurong Hachiko, which has since been adopted.

As for the Tampines Hachiko, it was captured on June 15. "Hachi is now at a foster home. After being apprehensive and fearful for the first couple of days, it has now settled down..." Ms Gowri said, declining to reveal where the foster home is.

"I hope someone, after having read this story, will open his heart and home to this extremely gentle, loving and sometimes goofy dog," she said.

Tampines Hachiko and other dogs will be at the Animal Lovers League adoption drive at The Cornerstone, 1380 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, today from 11am to 4pm.

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