A Dog’s Life: The Challenges and Possibilities of Animal Biography

  • Aaron Skabelund
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


If one were to write a biography of a nonhuman animal, a likely candidate is Hachikō, an Akita dog who became popular in 1932 when a newspaper claimed he had been awaiting the return of his master at a Tokyo train station since his owner’s death seven years earlier. That fame led to the production of an enormous variety of source material that a historian could use to reconstruct his life’s story. This chapter uses Hachikō to explore the methodological and theoretical challenges of animal biography. It argues that two new(er) kinds of primary sources—taxidermy and photography—allow Hachikō (and some other animals) to “speak” and play a collaborative role in telling their own stories.


History Biography Animals Dogs Japan Fascism 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron Skabelund
    • 1
  1. 1.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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