7 loyal dogs who waited for their dead humans

Hachiko waiting at the railway station
Loyal dogs who waited: Hachiko waiting at the railway station for his dead master.

‘Loyalty’ to most of us, conjures up an image of the dog. Histories inked with their unflinching courage, companionship, and love.  Researchers would tell you that the smartest of us have a vocabulary of 300 words. But anyone who has ever loved a dog knows differently. Although the chances are slim if not for dogs, I hope you do find someone who loves you as much.

I am a grammatically challenged canine and linguistics, I know little of. Emotions, however, comprise a language of their own.

Centuries turned, worlds’ changed, humans evolved (for better or for worse) but dogs, we have forgotten to keep pace. Even in the face of death. From Hachiko to Ciccio, we have waited in earnest for that caressing pat on our mane which may never be. Grievance, you see, isn’t just a human trait.

Here are seven dogs (amongst countless others) who refused to believe in the phrase ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ and knowing their story you can’t help but wonder How do you wait for someone who will never return?

Loyal dogs who waited

 1. ‘Leão’, the dog who refused to leave his human’s grave.

loyal dogs who waited - Laeo refused to leave the grave of his dead owner for days
Laeo refused to leave the grave of his dead owner for days

In January 2011, Brazilian capital was hit by a decimating flood. Amid thousands of causalities, there was a mixed breed dog (as humans refer to some of us) who refused to leave his owner Cristina Maria Cesario Santana’s grave. For days, Leao sat beside his owner’s grave in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janeiro, the area hardest hit by the flooding. He had to be taken away by the medics when his condition became critical.

Dog who waited by his human's grave
‘Leao’ being taken out from the graveside for medical attention

Thankfully, he got a new home. There have been reports that he ran away twice to the grave again.

Long live the King! (Leao means Lion in Portuguese.)

 2. Capitan: the Unflinching loyalty of the Argentine dog. 

Argentina dog loyalty
Every single night since 2006, ‘Capitan’ has slept beside the headstone of his master’s grave.

In Argentina, every single night since 2006, ‘Capitan’ has slept beside the headstone of his master’s grave. Miguel Guzman had brought ‘Capitan’ home in 2005. After Guzman died the next year, Capitan disappeared. A week after the funeral, the family returned to the cemetery in central Argentina and found Capitan there, howling. The heartbroken dog had found the cemetery and tomb on his own and has lived there ever since, sleeping on Guzman’s grave.

“I’ve tried to bring Capitan home several times,” Damian, 13, says, “but he always comes straight back… He’s looking after my dad.”

Also see: Dog visits grave of his owner every day

 3. Hawkeye: From Frisbee to Funeral 

Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson with 'Hawkeye'
Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson with ‘Hawkeye’

In 2011, 35-year-old Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson — died in the helicopter crash that killed 38 American servicemen. There were 1,500 mourners in attendance at the local school gym paying their last respects, but all eyes were fixated on ‘Hawkeye’, who refused to leave the side of his dead friend’s casket.

Dog sitting at soldier's coffin
Till the very end: Hawkeye refused to leave his master’s side during an emotional funeral.

Hawkeye now lives with Tumilson’s friend from Navy SEAL.

 4. Ciccio: For whom the bell chimes

Every day when a church in Italy rings the bells, Ciccio, a 12-year-old dog comes along hoping to reunite with his dead friend again.

Italy dog church
Every day when a church in Italy rings the bells, Ciccio, a 12-year-old dog comes along hoping to reunite with his dead friend again.

Ciccio and his owner lived in the village of San Donaci in the southern region of Puglia, Italy. When the bells tolled each afternoon, he would accompany the lady to the church. After Maria’s death, he attended the funeral and followed his mistress’ coffin as it was carried into the same local church. Thereafter, he just kept coming back, every day.

His devotion has so impressed the parishioners that they rallied together to care for him, giving him water and food and allowing him to sleep in a covered area outside the church. The priest, while hoping to find a new home for the faithful dog, even lets Ciccio sit in front of the altar during service.

5. Ruswarp, waited 11 winter weeks by his human’s side.

Ruswarp, a 14-year-old Border Collie, used to hike with his human, Graham Nuttall in Wales countryside. In the winter of 1990, when neighbours noticed that Graham hadn’t returned from one of his hikes, a search party swept the area in search of Nuttall and his pup to no avail. Eleven weeks later, another hiker, found Nuttall’s body near a mountain stream, guarded by Ruswarp.

Ruswarp loyal dog waited
Ruswarp and his human (above). Ruswarp’s statue at the railway station (below). Ruswarp had also paw-signed a petition objecting to the closure of the Settle-Carlisle Railway line between Yorkshire and Cumbria.

The dog had waited all this while by his master’s side for help to arrive.

Unfortunately, the poor dog didn’t survive his human’s funeral and passed away shortly. In 2009, a bronze statue was put up at the Garsdale railway station in his honour.

6. Canelo, the loyal dog from Spain.

Canelo, the dog, used to accompany his ill human during his weekly visits to the nearest hospital in Cadiz, Spain for dialysis treatments. The hospital policy prevented non-service animals from being inside, so the dog would wait by the door until his human’s treatments were finished. After the treatment, they’d walk back home together.

Canelo dog

One day, due to complications, the man died in the hospital during one of his dialysis treatments. Canelo, however, couldn’t understand the concept of death and stayed back, day after day, not leaving his position outside the hospital, waiting for his human to return so that they’d go home.

This continued for 12 long years, with neighbours and people in the community providing him food. He was killed by a car outside the hospital and his long wait was finally over. The town folks were so moved by his loyalty and devotion that they put up a plaque in his honour, as well as named an alleyway after him.

7. Fido, the Italian dog who waited 14 years for his master

In 1941, amid world war II, a brick kiln worker, Carlo Soriani found an injured dog by the roadside. Carlo cared for the dog and eventually adopted him, naming him ‘Fido’, translating to ‘faithful’ in Latin.

Once he recovered, Fido would accompany his human every day to the bus station at Luco di Mugello and would wait there until Carlo returned from work. This continued for two years until a bomb destroyed the factory where Soriani worked. Soriani didn’t survive the blast, but Fido kept waiting.

Fido Italy dog statue
The inscription on Fido’s statue in Italy reads: A FIDO, ESEMPIO DI FEDELTÀ (To Fido, Example of loyalty)

For the next 14 years, until Fido died, he returned to the bus station every day hoping to find his human dad. A year after the dog passed away, the town erected a monument to honour his loyalty and placed it in the city square.

 In 1957, Time magazine also wrote an article about Fido.

There are many more Hachiko(s) out there; some with their tales guarded off from the media lights; silently waiting for someone who will never return.

As you go to bed tonight, think for a minute of Capitan who would be on the gravestone in Argentina; Ciccio, with his hopeful eyes in Italy and as you hug your furry friend close, please try to make a difference the next day for those dozens of Hachiko walking around us. Just waiting for some love. Everything counts, even a friendly pat.

Have you heard of more ‘legends’ like these, loyal dogs who waited beyond death? Want a best friend you can truly call your own? Please choose to adopt!

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25 Comments

  1. I can’t tell you Abhi how deeply touched and hurt I am reading this post. It is really true that if one hasn’t felt the love of dogs, one hasn’t seen love at all…. My heart goes out to each one of them and I wish I could go and hug every dog that feels sad like this… 🙁
    We keep searching for love in so many places but this is where it is… in the heart of your pet. Unconditional and forever, true and lasting. In all ways and means.

    1. You describe it perfectly. I hope your words..advise & those stories of Faithful Furry Companions Forever will echo in the hearts of humanity around the Globe!

    1. I hope these are tears of love and longing, my noamd friend. Sometimes as the tear traverses the landscape of face, drawing close to the lips, the heart heaves a sigh for our comrades for centuries, the canine. Memories enshrined in hearts go beyond the snapshots; in that shrine you shall always find your loyal friend.

  2. This was an amazing heart touching post. I also came across another such story on Discovery channel I am not too sure of the source though, but its a story about a dog named Spot in Texas despite her owner being dead in 2010, she still waits for him at the country side road everyday. Looking for him to come back from work and take her home.

    Dogs are truly amazing creatures, they love you unconditionally. I am glad that I have been blessed to have them as a part of my family.

    1. You are right Shivani, dogs can teach us humans a lesson or two on loyalty, love and friendship. Blesssed is he/she who ahs earned the love of a dog:)

      I will definitely check for ‘Spot’ on web.

  3. Touching to say the least! … I’ve adopted 2 stray dogs … Early last year when my dad was in the hospital for couple of days and I & my family were with my dad at the hospital, we requested our neighbours to feed the dogs … However, the dogs refused to eat for 3 days!! … Only when we returned home the 4th day, they had food & a sound sleep!!

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