There is much we can learn from dogs. In childhood, they are our best companions, seeming to understand our every emotion. They accept us when we feel left out, wait hours for us to return from school or work, and even become the comfort we need to overcome shyness by nudging us into new friendships. And for adults, they remain our devoted friends. It’s no wonder we have such affection for them.
Capitan was a beloved German shepherd with a glossy, dark coat and kind, knowing eyes. He was always at Miguel’s side, the two of them inseparable as Miguel pushed into his later years.
When Miguel passed away, Capitan disappeared – only to turn up later at the cemetery, lying on Miguel’s grave. He grieved the separation that death brought, and despite many attempts to bring him home, Capitan always ran away, back to the cemetery 15 blocks from the house.
Such devotion not only touched Miguel’s widow and son; it also touched the cemetery caretakers. They made sure he had his vaccinations and was fed daily, but Capitan didn’t roam the grounds and attach himself to new friends. He stayed close to the gravesite, sleeping there every night and sitting vigilantly during the day.
Capitan became an icon of loyalty. But what will always remain a mystery is how he found his master’s grave in the first place. Miguel died in a different town and was transferred directly to the cemetery. There was no wake at home, no procession for Capitan to follow, yet he located the companion he was so loyal to.
For us humans, we can more easily locate those we love. We can move our way into their lives more often. We can be more vigilant in our friendships, standing watch over memories and protecting affections. Capitan reminds us that no matter the difficulties that separate us, there is always a way to get back to unconditional love.
After 12 years at Miguel’s gravesite, Capitan also passed away. He was mourned as a community member, beloved to many in the town and an example of the love that connects all living things.