When the bells ring for the start of a service, German shepherd Tommy runs to the church his owner Maria Margherita Lochi used to attend before she was buried there in November.
The heartbroken hound had been a faithful companion to Ms Lochi who found Tommy abandoned close to her home in Brindisi, southern Italy
‘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,’ explained Father Donato Panna.
‘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.’
The German shepherd has been adopted by the village community since the passing of his owner, with caring residents giving him food and water.
‘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,’ added Father Panna.
‘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.’