Hachiko the Akita Inu is a legend in Japan. A loyal dog who’d wait for his master at the train station each day, he gained notoriety for his famous routine – especially in the wake of his owner’s death. For 10 years the dog would come to the Shibuya train station outside Tokyo, looking for his master among the bustling commuters, only to return home without him. His story is one that filmmakers wanted to tell.
Thanks in part to Richard Gere, the touching tale came to life onscreen overseas last year, and now, the film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is on DVD and Blu-ray in the States, too. In the clip above, “Working with Dogs,” cast and crewmembers chat about the process of training Japanese-bred Akitas – who, while beautiful, aren’t the most accommodating dogs!
“They’re one of the most stubborn dogs I’ve ever worked with, but they’re very smart,” says animal coordinator Boone Naar, who dealt with three older Akitas and several puppies throughout filming. The trainer reveals he was “worried about failing,” but had a breakthrough with the dogs after about two months of work.
According to Gere, the dogs either like you, or they don’t. “I was almost afraid to pet them,” he says of his first encounter with the pooches, “because I knew how important this moment was, of meeting them.” In fact, the actor actually wasn’t allowed to pet the pretty pups at first in fear of putting them off – instead, he was instructed to let the dogs come to him.
Obviously, everything worked out, and in the end, Gere did click with the four-legged stars. Click above to hear more about the training process, and be sure to check out Hachi: A Dog’s Tale on DVD and Blu-ray disc!