When a rescuer heard that a stray dog had been spotted in a cemetery, she headed out there right away. And sure enough, there was indeed a canine guard keeping a lonely watch over a gravestone. Then, however, she realized what secret the dog was hiding, and all of the pieces fell into place.
In 2015 animal lovers across the internet were moved by a heartbreaking photo that quickly went viral. The picture in question originated from Serbia and appeared to show a grieving German shepherd in a cemetery. Naturally, then, it was assumed that the grave in the photo belonged to the dog’s departed owner.
The emotional response for the apparently sorrowful dog was heard across social media – but something about the story wasn’t right. There are, however, plenty of accounts of loyal dogs guarding the final resting places of their masters, so was it not possible that the German shepherd was doing just that?
Well, science has debated the truth of such stories for a long time. One of the most famous accounts comes from the 19th century and concerns a supposedly grieving dog named Greyfriars Bobby. This Skye terrier allegedly stood vigil over his owner’s grave for 14 years, right up until his own death in 1872 – and there have been many more tales of grieving dogs since.
Any dog owner will tell you that their fur baby can feel love, but this has also actually been confirmed by experts, including Professor Stanley Coren of Psychology Today’s Canine Corner. Coren cites recent research which found that dogs have the emotional development of a two-year-old and so are capable of loving their human owners.
Yet although the evidence seems to suggest that dogs can indeed grieve for people, it turns out that the Serbian German shepherd wasn’t one of them. In fact, through misinformation or bad translation, the rumors of the dog’s grief were incorrect. Regardless, though, this mysterious pooch seemed to be a stray – and was in need of rescue.
The call for help was answered by a keen rescuer and animal rights campaigner: a woman called Vesna Mihajloski. Hence, Mihajloski headed to the cemetery to meet the stray, intending to take her off the streets. And sure enough, she found the dog at the grave site.
As touched as she was by the dog’s situation, however, Mihajloski didn’t pick the dog up straight away. Instead, she observed the creature for a while to see why she was in the graveyard. Yet if the grave didn’t belong to a previous owner of the animal, what on Earth was going on?
Well, for one thing, Mihajloski’s observations revealed that the dog wasn’t sitting over the gravestone; rather, she was under it. The stray had dug a little cave under the headstone, and she kept returning to it. Eventually, moreover, Mihajloski found out why.
In fact, the dog had given birth, and the little cave that she had created was a den for her litter. This was also the reason, then, that mommy dog was hanging around the graveyard: she was simply being attentive to her pups. So it was pretty fortunate that Mihajloski had taken the time to observe the stray.
Yes, if Mihajloski had just rescued the dog straight away, the puppies would have been left on their own, and it’s unlikely that they would have survived without their mom. After all, despite her limited resources, the stray had been attentive to the puppers and had done her best to provide for them.
An imgur user called FakeToupet – who had, in fact, initially revealed the secret of the graveyard dog – commented on the mother dog’s efforts. “You can see the den [she] created and just how compact it was,” read the post from August 18, 2015. “While it wasn’t ideal, it was the best she could find.”
But the original post further revealed that despite the canine momma’s best efforts, the pups were struggling for survival. “The puppies were very frail and were lucky to have been found,” FakeToupet wrote on imgur. Still, thanks to Mihajloski, that day was the start of their new lives.
Mihajloski took the furry family in, and for the first time in their lives, perhaps, they were safe. Their cold graveyard cave was replaced by a warm bed and a soft blanket. And not only did they get regular feeding, but they also received expert medical treatment.
Faketoupet, meanwhile, contacted Mihajloski through social media and managed to get some information on the dogs. Apparently, they were each given names while they waited to find their furever homes. The mother dog, though, was simply called “Mama” – to reflect the loving, maternal nature that she had shown to her puppies, even when she’d had so little herself.
“She was quite the lovely mother to the puppies,” Faketoupet posted on August 18, 2015. “And it appears she is very sweet towards humans as well.” Unfortunately, though, the original post explained that her life before the graveyard remains a mystery.
What is known is that Mama had two girl pups, called Eli and Grace, and two boys, named Freddie and Boomer. Faketoupet said, “I’m not sure on [Eli’s] personality, but it appears she is a sweet little girl. [Grace] is quite the stunner in my opinion, looking quite similar to her mom.”
“Freddie was described as a ‘serious, gentle and kind’ puppy who would be good in a family. He’s got such a sweet little face,” wrote Faketoupet. Little Boomer, meanwhile, fell ill with a parasite called Babesia canis, but he proved to be a little fighter, and thankfully he made a complete recovery.
Faketoupet’s imgur post also revealed that since their rescue, neither the puppies nor their mother had been adopted. It’s unclear whether that situation has changed since September 4, 2016. We can only hope that they are all now happy and cared for in a loving furever home.
Tragically, meanwhile, the bighearted Mihajloski has since passed away, and her Facebook account is now memorialized. Her loss will be felt by those whose lives she touched – both human and animal – but she has left a wonderful legacy. Not least, of course, these sweet, lovely dogs who owe their lives to her.