Dog guarding master’s grave or more doglike interpretation needed?

German Shepherd dog, Capitán, guards master’s grave six years

A German shepherd mix, Capitán, has stood guard over his master’s grave for six years. He ran away from home after his master Miguel Guzman, died in 2006. When Guzman’s family visited the grave after the funeral, they found the dog sitting on it.

According to The Daily Mail, Capitán has grieved his dead master for six years at the cemetery in the Villa Carlos Paz in central Argentina. Guzman’s family say he brought Capitán home as a surprise present for his 13-year-old son Damian, in 2005. Although the dog was meant as a gift for Damian, a special relationship soon blossomed between the dog and Guzman, who died suddenly in March 2006. Guzman’s wife and son say the dog disappeared from home before they returned home from the funeral.

The following Sunday we went to the cemetery and Damian recognised his pet. Capitán came up to us, barking and wailing, as if he were crying.” Veronica continued: “We had never taken him to the cemetery so it is a mystery how he managed to find the place.We went back the next Sunday, and he was there again. This time, he followed us home and spent a bit of time with us, but then went back to the cemetery before it started getting dark. I don’t think he wanted to leave Miguel on his own at night.”

Tip: Steve Liberace and Fark.com

I looked for more on this article but all I could find was that it turned back to The Daily Mail as a source. That makes me skeptical of this tale and I expect it’s highly embellished. Other original sources are in Spanish.

I can accept that a dog will be traumatized by the loss of an owner. There have been reports of animals mourning the loss of one of their own. Dogs see their masters as one of their own. But the owners say they did not bring the animal to the cemetery. How did he find it? It’s not impossible but some things don’t ring very true to me. Also, curiously, the fact that people seem to be feeding the dog will actually keep him coming back. There are many anthropomorphic assumptions made here – placing human interpretation on a dog is not valid. We can’t test if the dog is “guarding” the grave and, frankly, it’s unlikely that is the best interpretation.

Since it’s such a captivating story, it’s being repeated everywhere. People like it.

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  4 comments for “Dog guarding master’s grave or more doglike interpretation needed?

  1. September 14, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    I can’t speak to this but my mother died almost exactly a year ago and her cat still keeps looking for her and is definately traumatized.

  2. Rob
    September 15, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    I’m sure the Daily Mail appreciates it in part for its similarities to the famous case of Scotland’s Greyfriars Bobby–which has been exposed as a hoax. More than pets, I think it’s people who are traumatized by the death of loved ones. I knew a Buddhist who firmly believed his cat was the reincarnation of a dead friend.

  3. Rob
    September 15, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    I can offer this: there are so incredibly many stray dogs in Argentina, and Latin American in general, the simplest explanation is that it is not the same dog at all. Notice there are no visible tags. It’s a touching story, but ultimately wishful thinking on the part of a grieving child and widow.

  4. Old Rockin' Dave
    September 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    When the dog got loose, he may have coincidentally found his way to the cemetery, which would be the kind of open area attractive to a dog. Scent from the family could linger around the gravesite. The family’s actions and the food provided by others would reinforce his behavior.

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