By Janet Tappin Coelho
A devoted dog still walks the same route that he and his owner used to before he died.
Thor, a Japanese Akita, makes his heart-breaking vigil along the streets of Caçapava do Sul in south Brazil every day.
He has become a well-known sight in the city as he grieves for his owner, Claudio Cantarelli.
News of his daily journey emerged last week (Friday 17) after a local veterinarian clinic highlighted the pedigree pet’s case.
According to the report, when fine art painter, Claudio, died, at the age of 58 in December 2015, the loyal canine missed his best friend so much he became sick with grief.
Claudio’s neighbour, Saionara Freitas, 76, took pity on the animal and decided to adopt him.
She said: “Thor stopped eating when Claudio died. He would lie in the courtyard of his house without moving for days on end.
“It was obvious he was depressed and missing his lifelong friend. I was so upset to see how sad he was I asked Claudio’s family if I could look after him.
“Because Thor was already used to me he came to stay without any problems. But while I care for him every day, his heart still belongs to Claudio.”
Airton Oliveira, a hairdresser who knew Claudio, said: “Every day, for over a decade, Claudio would go out with Thor and walk the same path. They were always together.
“When Claudio stopped to talk to people or go into the lottery to place his bets, the dog would stop with him and lie down and wait until he was ready.
“Claudio was really well known as an artist in the city and a friend of everyone. Now Thor is carrying on that friendship because he’s loved wherever he goes. He’s become a bit of a mascot. It’s really impressive.”
According to Saionara, the devoted canine doesn’t just take any path.
“He always follows the same route that Claudio used to take with him,” said the pensioner.
“I have followed him many times to see where he goes and to see if he takes a different road but he never changes it. His journey always takes him past the vet’s clinic, the lottery, along the high street and past the diner where Claudio used to have his lunch.
“I have watched as he lies down outside the clinic where Claudio would stop and chat and sits and waits outside the lottery. He looks like he’s hoping Claudio will turn up and I swear I have seen tears in his eyes.
“Every morning I get up early and give him his food, then I open the gate and let him out and off he goes. Since he started his daily journeys on his own, Thor has got better and he isn’t as sad as before.
“His walk takes him all morning and then he returns at noon to eat. He rests a little as he is now quite an old dog and then goes out for a stroll again.
“He is so well known that people leave food out for him and take photographs with him. Wherever Thor goes he receives a lot of love and affection.”
Staff at the lottery office said Thor insists on sitting in the same place outside the building every day as his owner always popped in to place his bets during the ten years they walked together.
Local Altair Franco said: “It’s as if he is biding his time and waiting for the day he joins his best friend or looking for the friend that has gone.”
Thor’s tale is similar to that of Hachi, also a Japanese Akita dog, whose true-life devotion to his owner, even after his owner died, was turned into a film “Always by his side” in 2009 starring Richard Gere.
The story tells how Hachi always accompanied his owner to the train station and waited for him to return at the same time and in the same place. Even after his master’s death, the dog continued to show his loyalty by going to their meeting point.
Thor shows the same level of dedication although there is one difference.
Despite pining for his former owner, the pure white pooch returns every day to his new home.
Saionara added: “Thor is like a son to me, I adore him.
“When Claudio was dying, he talked about missing his dog so much. I’m glad for his sake, even though I am old, I’m able to take care of Thor for him.”