Friday, January 18, 2013

Dog attends Mass after losing his owner

I saw the "loyal dog" headline on the Yahoo news feed, and of course I clicked it.

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)

Maria adopted Tommy as a stray, according to Yahoo, who seems to have gotten it from The Daily News, and it seems like her community as a whole has continued to care for him, which makes me happy.

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.


  1. We saw this on facebook yesterday, such a sad story. I wonder if the dog has a good home or is just roaming around.

  2. Who knows if animals can understand death, but of course they feel loss and loneliness. . .perhaps he goes to mass hoping that he will find her there.

  3. Just like the movie Hochi (sp?) about the dog who met his master at the train station every day after work. Every single day. Even when the master died the dog Hoichi could not be persuaded to stop going. So people started taking care of him there at the train station. It was so sweet and broke my heart.

  4. Someone once said that if dogs don't go to heaven, he wanted to go where they went.

  5. Priests haven't been getting very good press lately. This one seems particularly compassionate to allow the dog access to the church every day. I hope the routine is a comfort to Tommy.

  6. Wasn't this the sweetest, saddest thing ever? I feel so badly for this dog, although I'm sure he's being well taken care of. And I don't buy that schtick about them not having memory or emotions, I've seen that miracle first hand!

  7. Hatchi, Red Dog, Tommy. Many dogs move on but a few have made such a bond that they cant. It is both sad and endearing and yes, I do believe dogs go to heaven right along with the lions and lambs and horses.