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Helping Akita Dogs - The Legendary Faithful Breed of 'Hachiko'

Akita dogs are well known for their appearances in movies, comics, and on TV. Now a group in Akita City is on a mission to care for the aging animals.



Akita dogs Gon (left) and Karin under the care of ONE FOR AKITA in Akita City, in August 2023. (© Sankei)

This is the story of three of many elderly Akita dogs in need of protection in their final days. With an eye toward achieving that, a group has been conducting a fundraising drive. They are using a government-backed crowdfunding formula, through furusato nozei, Japan's hometown tax donation program. 

Called "ONE FOR AKITA," the group is a general incorporated association based in Akita City, Akita Prefecture. It has been working for the protection and transfer of abandoned Akita dogs in tandem with the Akita prefectural government

Akiko Suzuki of ONE FOR AKITA takes care of Gon (left) and Karin, two of the protected Akita dogs. (© Sankei)

Faithful Companions

Dogs of the Akita breed are well known for their appearances in movies, TV dramas, and comics on the theme of "Hachiko." In this case, the suffix-"ko" is a term of endearment. The name "Hachiko" means "faithful dog." It is well known in English from the 2009 Hollywood film, "Hachi: A Dog's Tale.

Variously called Akita dogs, Akita inu, or simply Akita, they have also been popular pets overseas in recent years. 

Ringo the Akita dog is also cared for at ONE FOR AKITA. (© Sankei)

Ringo, Gon and Karin

There are three Akitas in our story. Ringo, an 11-year-old female is the first. Her friends are Gon, a nine-year-old male, and Karin, a female, also nine years old. Each one is different in character. Ringo is gentle. Meanwhile, Karin definitely likes being pampered, making a point of posing for the camera winsomely whenever she spots someone.

Akita dogs have a typical lifespan of around 10 years. Unfortunately, it is difficult for elderly homeless Akita dogs to find new owners because of the short period of time left to spend together and the burden of medical expenses. Another factor of concern is that the aging dogs may become stressed by a change in environment, according to ONE FOR AKITA.

Donations are currently being accepted online at Furusato Choice, the hometown tax donation program's intermediary website. 


(Read the story in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun

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