A story popped up in my Facebook newsfeed today about a dog in Italy who has been showing up at Catholic mass every Sunday since its owner died two months ago.
According to news stories, a German Shepherd named Tommy used to accompany his owner to mass, sitting quietly at her feet. When his owner died two months ago, the dog attended her funeral, along with the other mourners, and has been showing up regularly every since.
It reminds me of a movie I watched over the Christmas holiday called “Hachi”. (Gotta love the $5 bargin bin at Walmart.) The movie is set in the US, but is based on the true story of a dog named Hachikō in the 1920s in Tokyo, Japan. It’s a tear jerker, thats for sure. Hachikō was owned by Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. The loyal Akita accompanied his master every day to the station and was waiting faithfully every day upon his return. When Hidesaburō Ueno died suddently in 1925, Hachikō spent the next nine years waiting daily at the Shibuya station. His faithfulness made him a national hero and a national symbol of loyalty. Statues have been erected in his name, and his stuffed body is on display in the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo.
There are lots of stories like this – an Argentinian dog named Capitán who sat every evening for six years on his owner’s grave; a fallen Navy SEAL’s Labrador retriever named Hawkeye who in 2011 laid down next to his owner’s casket at a funeral service, refusing to leave; Leao, a mixed breed who stayed by the side of her owner who died during Brazil’s flood of January 2011; Shep, a Border collie in Montana, who in 1936,after watching the coffin of his master loaded onto a train, maintained a vigil at the station for six years.
I think they serve as evidence that the human/canine bond is much more complex that just dog and owner. Our dogs really do connect with us emotionally.
I wrote recently that it’s been a year since Scout died, and that I’m really having a hard time. These kind of stories give me some comfort as I lie in bed at night crying and missing my beloved dog. It’s not silly. If the situation was reversed, I think he’d be feeling the same way.