My top 5 dog storiesJuly 20, 2016

Times Square wouldn't be this crowded during the weekday. I was referring to Shibuya, the shopping mecca in Tokyo. I was overwhelmed when I stepped out of Tokyo Metro. It was early evening, and high-rise buildings seemed to be screaming with bright lights. If this would mean that this was another city that never slept, then the message was loud and clear. And then I noticed the throngs of pedestrians crossing the intersection. My tutor told me about this part of Shibuya, where some backpackers would record that frenzy moment. (They would cross the street.) A few found an elevated area not far from this busy intersection, which gave them a better view of the place.

I wasn't one of those travellers who wanted to do the things that others have done (on the road). Besides, my housemates urged me to walk faster. (I got lost in Disneyland the other day. One of the local personnel thought it was a young white lad. She almost fainted when she saw a tall man instead.) I was delighted to stumble into a statue of Hachiko. The heart-tugging tale of this Akita would be known all over the world. As a matter of fact, his undying devotion was the reason I asked Dad for a French bulldog. I was fifteen years of age, and I wanted a dog with bat ears (after I saw our neighbour's fur kid). I named him Maltose. (I was interested in chemistry. I have a sweet tooth. But literature became my true calling.) Hachiko's story would remind me of Argos, who happened to be the loyal hound of Odysseus.

There would be many dogs' stories, and Cerberus won't be one of them. It became my past time in the university whenever I became too tired from catching up with the reading list. I had all the time during Reading Week, but loafing kept me from becoming disinterested. (Long story.) What would be my top dogs' stories? I could name five:

Kashtanka (1887) by Anton Chekhov. It was a chilly Saturday morning when I read this tale. It affected me. A beaten dog accidentally separated from a drunken carpenter, who owned her. A circus performer found her, adopted her, and trained her to be part of the (circus) show. When the carpenter saw her performance, he called her out. The good life turned into a memory. I suspected that this could be Chekhov's most revealing story, as the dog might have found comfort in the so-called natural values. I couldn't say good (values), as the culture could be seen in many ways. Perhaps the author detested progress brought by capitalism.

Peter Pan (1902) by J. M. Barrie. I wanted my dog to assist me in the household chores, but Walt Disney might be exaggerating a lot. Nana's case may not be a subtle form of cruelty and neglect, yet there was more to this enchanted tale. I could only stare at Maltose's bat ears.

Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (1929) by Hergé. It would be nice to let Maltose run across the Japanese garden, but he's not Snowy.

Cujo (1981) by Stephen King. After reading this book, I became wary of St. Bernard. I may be overreacting to a scary story, but this one didn't seem remote from reality. Being huge could be misinterpreted at times.

Her Dog (2008) by Tobias Wolff. Is it impossible to escape from history? This titular dog arrived at this conclusion after her mother passed away. I didn't see her husband doing anything less, but animals could be more perceptive than humans.

The diehard fans of the Star Wars franchise were not far from the intersection. It was getting cold. My housemates suggested ramen. They were famished, while I don't mind getting away from the madding crowd.

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