Real-life stories of animals and their amazing bond with humans

Dog who knew the time of his owner’s funeral

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Dark, strong and imposing, King the German Shepherd dog certainly had a regal bearing. But King was nonetheless devoted to his master Philip Friedman. Philip and Clara Friedman ran a grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1930’s. By 1934 Philip, now an elderly man, was ill, and his family sensed he was dying. King certainly seemed to know and was deeply upset. It was not just his doleful look that gave away King’s emotions – but his whimpers and moans as he sat under the dying man’s window.

As old Philip began to fade away, King became more and more anguished. When the proud old man eventually died in November, it was obvious that King knew what had happened to the man to whom he had been devoted for many years. The dog reached up with his paws and scratched on the window, as if to say goodbye to Philip for the last time, and then let out a deep and sorrowful howl.

King was kept shut safely in the yard while the family went about the sad business of laying out the body and arranging the funeral, which passed off smoothly. But the pet dog still showed signs of grief at his master’s passing. As the family mourned at home, King kept quiet during prayers but at other times howled from his yard and from inside the kennel. No one knew how to comfort him.

Three days later, King escaped. A strong gust of wind had blown the yard door open, and the hound had vanished. The family and neighbours began to search for King, upset at the thought that the dead man’s grieving dog was out there, alone, in the city. But their searches were in vain. Even a small advert placed in the local newspaper was to no avail. It appeared King had disappeared for good.

Then one day a member of the family had an idea: perhaps they should visit the cemetery where Philip was buried, in case King had turned up there? It seemed far-fetched as King had been safely shut up at the time of the interment and had never even been to the cemetery. But as no one had any better plan, off they went.

When they got to the Mount Hebron cemetery in Brooklyn, the family were surprised to see a dog’s footprints in the snow close to Philip’s grave. Intrigued, they asked a member of staff if he had noticed a large black German Shepherd dog at the cemetery.

To their amazement he confirmed he had. Moreover, said the attendant, the same dog had turned up at the same grave every day, had lain across it and cried and whined in clear distress. And if anyone tried to come close, the dog would growl a warning.

In fact, said the cemetery attendant, the dog turned up so punctually at the same time each day you could set your watch by it – 2 pm. The Friedman family looked at each other in amazement. For 2pm was the time at which Philip’s burial had taken place.

The next day a member of the family turned up to watch if King would arrive. Shortly after 2pm King – who had clearly been discreetly watching developments himself – showed up at a distance. The family member called out his name in an attempt to get the pet to come home with him. Instead, King stared briefly ahead for a moment, then turned and vanished. No one saw him again. It seemed King had gone to be reunited with his master.

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