Evidently the dog, Tommy, was allowed to attend Mass with his owner, Maria Margherita Lochi, in Italy. He's always been well behaved, and has continued to come to the church when he hears the bell ring for Mass. I guess he just sits to the side of the altar, and at the end, he's let out again.
(Nikonarte Fotografia/Daily Mail)
Books about dog behavior and training say again and again that dogs crave routine. We humans do as well, of course, and if Ms. Lochi attended Mass every day, then both the routine and the ritual were very important to her, and as a result important to Tommy.
I'm glad that the pastor there was willing to allow Tommy's presence in the first place, but has also allowed Tommy's continued presence. There's a lot of talk bandied about regarding dogs' capacity for both memory and emotions, interesting things to think about in general but also in regards to Tommy's situation. He certainly didn't sit at the altar when he attended Mass with his owner; is he sitting where her coffin was during her funeral? Does he go to Mass and wait because that's where he last sensed her?
I believe firmly in a dog's capacity for emotions, but death is impenetrable to some of us humans. Does Tommy know his owner is gone? Does going to Mass help him remember her, even if he isn't hoping for her to come through the door? I wonder where he spends the rest of his day, and if it's further pilgrimages of the life he spent with her.
It's a sad story, and a sweet one. Do dogs go to Heaven? Tommy seems to be observing all of the Holy Days of Obligation, so I would certainly hope so.