“A Dog’s Tale” is based on a true story of the love and devotion between a man and a dog.
The story is told by Ronnie who is the man’s grandson. When Ronnie has to give a presentation at school about a personal hero, he chooses to tell the story of his grandfather’s dog Hachiko (“Hachi” for short). Despite his classmates laughing, Ronnie describes how his grandfather, Professor Parker Wilson, finds a lost puppy which had been freighted from a Japanese monastery to the United States. The crate’s tag tears, and when the puppy pushes his way out of the crate at the train station of Bedridge, a small Rhode Island town, Parker Wilson, a professor of music in nearby Providence, takes the dog home for the night.
The professor plans to search out its intended destination and send it on to its rightful owner. However the puppy’s owner cannot be found and Parker and the puppy begin to form a close bond. He also learns from Ken, a Japanese professor friend, that the dog is a Japanese breed called an Akita, and that the Japanese character on the dog’s collar tag is the number eight – “hachi”. Although Parker’s wife, Cate, is opposed to keeping the puppy she eventually relents after realising the bond between Parker and Hachi.
Over the next year or so Parker and Hachi become even closer. Parker tries to train Hachi, but the dog refuses to do normal dog things like chasing and fetching. One morning Parker leaves for work and Hachi follows him to the train station and refuses to leave without his master causing Parker to miss the train to take the dog home. The next day Hachi follows Parker again who this time gets on the train. When Parker returns to the train station after work he is surprised to find Hachi waiting for him. Hachi learns what time that Parker will be due home every day and constantly goes to the station to wait for him at 5:00pm, quickly becoming their new daily routine.
One winter day morning, Hachi curiously fetches the ball when Parker is about to leave for work. The same day Parker suffers a fatal and unexpected brain hemorrhage while at work and thus never returns home on the train as usual. Hachi, waiting in his usual place for Parker as the train pulls up, doesn’t see his master disembark, and instead patiently waits and waits for hours even as it starts snowing. Eventually Parker’s son-in-law, Michael, comes to get him. Although everyone tries to make Hachi understand that Parker has gone, Hachi is apparently unable to accept that his master won’t be coming home. Instead he returns to the train station each day and continues to wait.
As time passes, Cate sells the house and moves away. Hachi is sent to live with Parker and Cate’s daughter Andy, her husband Michael, and their baby Ronnie. However Hachi escapes and finds his way back to the station. There he sits at his usual spot. Andy arrives and takes him home but soon realises how sad the dog is, especially as he even refuses to eat. It breaks her heart but she slowly opens the gate knowing Hachi will return to the station. Each and every day Hachi waits for his best friend. As night falls, he sleeps in the rail yard. The hot dog seller, Jasjeet who knew the professor well, becomes fond of Hachi and provides him with food and water on a daily basis.
On the tenth anniversary of Parker’s death, Cate returns to the small township to visit her late husband’s grave. She is stunned to see a now very elderly Hachi still waiting at the station. Overcome with grief Cate sits and waits for the next train with him. At home, Cate tells the now ten-year-old Ronnie about Hachi. Meanwhile, the ever-faithful dog continues waiting until one day he is seen lying very still in the snow, comforted by a vision of Parker who appears and lovingly beckoning the dog to come to him.
Ronnie concludes his story of why Hachi will always be his hero. Some of the students are close to tears — even those who had laughed at the beginning. After school Ronnie is met by his dad and a new puppy which they’ve also named Hachi. The film ends with Ronnie and the puppy walking down the same tracks where Parker and the original Hachi had met so long ago.
The film ends with the true story of Hachiko. He was the pet of Professor Ueno. After Ueno’s death in 1925, Hachiko waited for his master for nine years at the Shibuya station. A bronze statue was erected in his honour at the Shibuya station.