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Death Of Hachiko, Legendary Japanese Dog, Explained

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AP File

TOKYO — Scientists have settled a decades-old mystery by naming a cause of death for Japan's most famous dog, Hachiko, whose legendary loyalty was immortalized in a Hollywood movie starring Richard Gere.

They say Hachiko died of cancer and worms, not because he swallowed a chicken skewer that ruptured his stomach – as legend had had it.

For years, Hachiko used to wait at Shibuya train station for its master, a professor at the University of Tokyo. Even after the professor died, the dog went to the station to wait for his master every afternoon for a decade until he finally died.

Tokyo residents were so moved that they built a statue of Hachiko at the station, which remains a popular rendezvous spot for Japanese today. He was also the hero of Japanese children's books.

The dog's story turned into a 2009 Hollywood film, "Hachi: A Dog's Story," starring Richard Gere – a remake of a 1987 Japanese movie.

Hachiko was considered such a model of devotion that his organs were preserved when he died in 1935.

Rumor had it that Hachiko died after wolfing down a skewer of grilled chicken – Japanese barbecue called yakitori – that ruptured his stomach.

But University of Tokyo veterinarians examining his innards said Wednesday that they found Hachiko had terminal cancer and also a filaria infection – worms.

Four yakitori sticks remained in Hachiko's stomach, but they did not damage his stomach or cause death, said Kazuyuki Uchida, one of veterinarians.

"Hachiko certainly had yakitori given by a street vendor at Shibuya," he said. "But the sticks were unrelated to his death, and the rumor is groundless."

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Mystery over fate of famed Japanese dog resolved

Mystery solved in death of legendary Japanese dog

Mystery solved in death of legendary Japanese dog

Mystery over fate of famed Japanese dog resolved

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