In a small town near the city of Brindisi in Italy, there was a small church where mass was held every day. Luckily, the church was supported by a fairly large and dedicated group who came together for prayer most days. This wasn’t unusual at first. Yet there was something strange and unique about this church.
One of the visitors who came every day was not human at all. It was a dog. The four-legged friend sat in the back of the church during the sermon and left after the service. Dogs were, of course, welcome in the church, provided they were well behaved.
So the presence of the beast alone wasn’t the most unusual part of the story. The fact was, however, that the dog came alone. He seemed to have no owner and came and went of his own accord. Nobody knew anything about him, not even where he came from or where he went after that.
Nonetheless, he was well behaved and caused no commotion or alarm. The priest didn’t seem to mind that the dog lingered in the back area during daily mass. One thing that struck the priest and congregation was how sad the dog looked. He had a sad look in his eyes, and his ears drooped in defeat.
He sat in the exact same spot every day, staring at a particular seat. This started to scare some worshipers, and some began to believe that the dog could see dead people. But the pastor knew dogs. He had owned several throughout his life. And what was becoming increasingly clear was that this poor animal was just incredibly sad.
While a dog of its kind should look strong and healthy with a shiny and thick coat, this quadruped looked thin and frail. It seemed like he had no home. He lived on the streets and scrounged for leftovers to make a living. Perhaps he came to church for some warmth, protection, and companionship. But the priest couldn’t help but think that the dog was here to ask for help. But what kind of help?
After a sermon, the priest explained his thoughts to some parishioners and asked them to help him bathe and clean the animal. Luckily, the people agreed and hoped to give the poor animal whatever help they could. The dog deserved to be happy. So they slowly approached the dog, who looked at them curiously.
It was clear that he was neither violent nor fearful. He was just curious. As they began bathing him and shampooing his matted fur for the first time in a long time, he began to wag his tail. The dog seemed happy. The small amount of human kindness and interaction clearly made a difference.
But while cleaning the dog, the priest made a statement. He had seen this dog before, but he couldn’t say exactly where or when. He racked his brains while the group dried the dog and offered him some food, which he happily wolfed down. The priest decided to put the riddle aside for now.
It was more important at that moment to make sure the dog was happy and healthy before they released him again. But initially, they thought taking him to a veterinarian’s office was the best option. There he was to be examined to ensure that he was in good physical condition despite his homelessness.
To lead him there, the vicar took his old leash that he used to use for his own dog. Oddly enough, the four-legged friend had no problem putting the leash on and even seemed to be enjoying the moment.
He obediently walked alongside the vicar all the way to the vet. And he made no capers as he examined him and ran some tests. Luckily, the results came back quickly, and the dog appeared fundamentally healthy. The vet also checked the animal for a microchip. If he had one, they could find out who his owner was and maybe put them back together. Unfortunately, no microchip could be found. It was a dead end. It seemed they would never find out who owned the dog.
As they walked back to the church disappointed, a boy came out of the store and noticed the priest and the dog. He ran up to the dog and hugged him tightly and called him Tommy. The vicar, now completely confused, asked why the boy called him that. The boy replied that that was the dog’s name. And that he remembered the animal when it belonged to an elderly woman in the area.
Suddenly it dawned on the vicar where he had seen the dog before. It belonged to an elderly woman named Maria. She had passed away a few months ago when old age finally caught up with her.
To support his theory, he made a small detour and walked with Tommy towards the house where Maria had once lived. As if knowing where they were going, Tommy began pulling on the leash and led the priest straight to Maria’s old home. It had to be true. Tommy sat down and looked at the house with glee. It was now empty and derelict. But it was clear that the dog had a connection to this house.
But the priest had to confirm his suspicions once and for all. So he led the dog back into the church and went into one of the back rooms where he had set up surveillance cameras. The recordings were saved for half a year.
So hopefully, they would include pictures from Maria’s funeral. Perhaps he would see something that would confirm the story and once and for all identify Tommy as Maria’s dog. So the man began to review the footage. He was looking for the right time and the right day. And finally, he found it.
The secret has now been revealed. As Mary’s coffin was slowly carried into the church, a dog followed her. It was Tommy. The pastor hadn’t heard much from him that day because there were too many people present. And he focused on the sad task he had to do.
The dog had settled into its usual position and was looking longingly at the coffin, as if knowing that he would never see his dearest human in the world again. The priest rolled back the video recording even further and was shocked to see that whenever Maria came to church to attend mass, Tommy accompanied her. He walked her to her usual spot before sitting in the back of the church and patiently waiting for her to get up.
The priest felt his eyes fill with tears. Tommy came back to the same place every day, hoping to see his beloved human again and hopefully be reunited with her. And it broke the priest’s heart to see such devotion. So he thought long and hard and came up with the plan to adopt Tommy. He would take care of the dog, give him a home with food and water, and allow him to attend mass with him every day. And although the priest could never replace Maria, he would do his best to mend the dog’s broken heart.