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article imageCiccio the German shepherd attends church since owner died

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 18, 2013 in Lifestyle
San Donaci - Ciccio, a 12-year-old German shepherd, still turns up each day at church two months after his owner Maria Margherita Lochi, 57, died. He waits in front of the altar at the Santa Maria Assunta church in the village of San Donaci, for his owner to appear.
According to The Huffington Post, the dog continues to return to the church in the southern region of Puglia, Italy and attends Mass where the funeral of his mistress was held two months ago.
Ciccio attended his mistress's funeral. He followed the coffin as it was carried into the church. According to The Telegraph, since the funeral, he heads to the church each afternoon as soon as he hears the bells ringing, as he did for years in the company of his owner while she was alive.
Ciccio's owner was known popularly in the village as "Maria tu lu campu" ("Maria of the fields"). She took ill and died suddenly in November.
The dog's devotion has so impressed villagers that they have adopted him. Villagers come to church with gifts of food and water. The church authorities let him sleep in a covered area outside the church.
According to Sud Italia News, the dog appears to mourn daily for Maria, who was known in the area for her love of animals.
The photo below shows Ciccio at the altar of the church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Donaci, Puglia, looking forlorn.
Ciccio attends church each day since owner died
Ciccio attends church each day since owner died
Facebook/Church in Malta
Sud Italia News reports: "As a sign of gratitude [to his dead owner], Ciccio goes to church every morning, sitting beneath the altar, near the priest. His hope to see his beloved Maria, the person he accompanied everywhere, even in church, moves the faithful."
The 12-year-old hound obviously misses Maria Lochi. The Daily Mail reports Father Donato Panna, said: ''He's there every time I celebrate Mass and is very well behaved - he doesn't make a sound, I've not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in.
"He used to come to Mass with Maria and he was obviously devoted to her - I let him stay inside as he was always so well behaved and none of the other parishioners ever complained to me.
"He's still coming to Mass even after Maria's funeral, 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.
"Tommy's been adopted by everyone in the village now and he is everybody's friend. Everyone looks out for him and leaves food for him - although it would be nice to find a proper home for him."
Ciccio's story is reminiscent of the story of a German shepherd mix, Capitán, who stood guard over his master's grave for six years. He ran away from home after his master Miguel Guzman, died in 2006. Digital Journal reports that when Guzman's family visited the grave after the funeral, they found the dog sitting on it. Capitán has grieved his dead master for six years at the cemetery in the Villa Carlos Paz in central Argentina.
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