The Hachiko of Ikebukuro

My dog escaped again.

He’s done so a few times over his three short years, and it’s hard to get angry. Unfortunately, he suffers from a bad case of separation anxiety, which basically means he don’t groove when he’s left alone. Who knows how it happened, but it may be tied to the fact that not long after we got him was when I injured my spine, leaving me housebound for the better part of half a year. Even when I got better, I would mostly work from home, so he was always used to having me — or my wife — around.

So how does he escape? My friend Brian Gray — a damn fine game localizer here in Tokyo — left the following comment yesterday on Facebook: “Just curious—how exactly does he escape? I’m picturing giant, Looney Tunes, dog-sized holes in the sides of your house.” As I replied, for one of his escapes, that’s not really far off — he smashed through the front door (we live in an old house, with glass sliding front doors).

But here’s how it goes. He first manages to pry open the door of his crate with his teeth. Then, there’s a room in our house with another set of sliding doors, and he knows now that even if they are locked, he can apply pressure in a certain way to jump the lock and slide it open — think patio doors. He then finds himself in the garden, and there’s a high wall all around it, but he has found a way to jimmy himself up and over it by using a tree (back on tree, he pushes himself up the wall).

Oh, by the way, my dog is a Great Pyrenees. He’s big. Real big.

I’d say this has happened 4-5 times over the years, and luckily he always ends up at the police station, where I go to pick him up. The way it works is that someone spots him, they call the police, who then come and pick him up. He’s quite friendly, so he doesn’t really run away from people, and the police usually don’t have any trouble putting him in their van — a gentle invitation does the trick.

Last Sunday’s escape was interesting in that after he left the house, he made his way to a Starbucks where we often go — they have a couple of tables outside, so we can sit outside with him. Apparently, he ran to the Starbucks, and then just sat in front of the shop, waiting. The manager at the Starbucks recognized him, and called the police — and after they came, even offered to keep him at the shop until we could pick him up. The manager at Cafe Pause also noticed him pass by — it’s on the way to the Starbucks — and so some of the staff followed him as well, and they kept us informed on what was happening — we were on a bus, coming back to Tokyo after a day of climing Mount Fuji.

So there you have it, my dog is a modern day version of Hachiko — that’s even how passersby and the staff from the cafes referred to him.

Once back in Tokyo, I went to the police station to pick him up. As usual, after I had him, I was surrounded by officers, who all wanted to see him, pet him — he’s quite the hit. The following night, we brought a little gift to the managers of both cafes, in order to thank them for their help, and to apologize for the situation.

The biggest damage of all? Having to buy a new crate for him.

By Jean Snow

Production Services Manager at Ubisoft Shanghai. Before that, half a life spent in Tokyo.