Tommy, a 7-year-old German shepherd, used to accompany his owner, Maria Margherita Lochi, to services at Santa Maria Assunta church in San Donaci, Italy, according to the Daily Mail, and was allowed to sit at her feet.
After Lochi died, the dog “joined mourners at her funeral service” according to locals and “followed after Maria’s coffin” as it was carried into the church.
Tommy, a stray who was adopted by Lochi, has been showing up “when the bell rings out to mark the beginning of services” ever since.
“He’s there every time I celebrate mass and is very well behaved,” Father Donato Panna told the paper. “He doesn’t make a sound.”
None of the other parishioners has complained, Panna said, and villagers give the dog food and water and allow him to sleep nearby.
“I’ve not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in,” Panna added. “He waits patiently by the side of the altar and just sits there quietly. I didn’t have the heart to throw him out—I’ve just recently lost my own dog, so I leave him there until Mass finishes and then I let him out.”
A dog lies near the casket of a fallen Navy SEAL in 2011. (The Atlantic)
Examples of this type of extreme canine loyalty are incredibly common.
In 2011, a fallen Navy SEAL’s Labrador retriever lay down next to his owner’s casket at a funeral service in Rockford, Iowa, refusing to leave.
The heart-wrenching photo of the scene, taken by the SEAL’s cousin and posted to Facebook, soon went viral.
And on Tuesday, a 60-year-old man’s dog watched and waited for 30 minutes for the fire department to rescue his owner, who had fallen through thin ice into the freezing waters of the Colorado River:
Nearby hunters witnessed the accident and called 911. But while they waited for help, the man’s dog refused to leave the scene. Like a worried relative in the waiting room, the dog paced back and forth, trying to reach the man, who repeatedly waved the dog off, fearing for its safety.
“This is simply who dogs are,” Dr. Karen Overall, an animal behavior expert, told Yahoo! Shine. “We have had a close, cognitive, emotional and working relationship with dogs for tens of thousands of years, and we have both been changed by that history. Dogs are heroic to us because they live up to that relationship.”
Canine loyalty extends beyond humans.
Last year, a male pit bull refused to leave the side of a female pit bull who had been dead on the side of a road in Phoenix. According to local news reports, the male pit bull stayed with her for more than 14 hours.