Hachiko, one of the most famous loyal dogs, had heart and lung cancer
March 2, 2011 § 3 Comments
“Hachiko,” the famous loyal dog who had a statue made after him next to Shibuya Station, had severe lung and heart cancer that may have contributed to his death, researched by researchers from the University of Tokyo. The famous story of “Chuken Hachiko” (loyal dog Hachiko) says that after the death of his master, professor Hidesaburo Ueno, Hachiko continued to wait every day in front of Shibuya Station for the professor to return, for years.
According to records at the University of Tokyo, Hachiko died in the pre-dawn hours of March 8, 1935 at the age of 13. Thirteen hours after death, researchers at then-Tokyo Imperial University (currently the University of Tokyo) performed an autopsy on Hachiko’s body and discovered many roundworm parasites in the heart and liquid collected in the abdomen. Microscopic observation of tissue was not yet commonplace at the time, so a detailed analysis of the cause of death was not carried out. It had long been thought that Hachiko died of filariasis caused by the roundworms.
Based on the recent research, the University of Tokyo team used advanced methods like MRI imaging and microscopes to analyze Hachiko’s organs, which were preserved in formalin. In doing so they discovered the large cancers in the heart and lungs. They speculate that the cancer may have spread from the lungs to the heart.
“Heart cancer is rare and was a completely unexpected find. Hachiko had both serious filariasis and cancer, and either one could have caused his death,” said professor Hiroyuki Nakayama, part of the research team.
Hachiko’s preserved organs are displayed at a University of Tokyo resource center in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, along with a bust of his owner Ueno