CORDOBA - A scruffy Argentine mutt named Capitán has taken the old adage “man’s best friend” to new extremes. The dog, a mix of German shepherd and who knows what else, has spent the past five years living in the cemetery where his owner is buried. And like clockwork, every day at 6 p.m. Capitán lies down on his departed master’s grave.
The story of Miguel and Capitán began in mid 2005, when Miguel, despite the misgivings of his wife Verónica, brought the dog home as a gift for his now 13-year-old son, Damián Guzmán. The family lives in Villa Carlos Paz, a city in the north of Córdoba province.
The following year, on March 24, 2006, Miguel passed away in the Villa Carlos Paz hospital. Capitán also left the house. He lived out in the street for a while, just a few meters away. But then he disappeared altogether.
It was by chance that the Guzmáns found him again. Verónica and Damián went to the cemetery to pay their respects to Miguel. And there was Capitán. Damián recognized his pet immediately. “He started shouting that Capitán was there. And then the dog came over to us, barking, as if he were crying,” Verónica told the Córdoba daily La Voz. But when it was time for the mother and son to leave the cemetery, Capitán wouldn’t budge, despite being called.
A week later, Verónica and Damián returned to the cemetery. The dog was still there. This time Capitán did leave with them, walking with the Guzmáns back to their home. “He stayed with us in the house for a while, but then he went back to the cemetery,” said Verónica.
Héctor Baccega, the director of the Villa Carlos Paz cemetery, has a clear memory of the day he met Capitán. “He showed up all alone, and wandered all around the cemetery until, all by himself, he reached his owner’s grave. And that’s not all,” said Baccega. “Every day, at six, he goes over and lies down on the grave. He’s with me every day walking around the cemetery, but when it’s time, he goes over there, where his master’s tomb is.”
The Guzmán family insists they never took Capitán to the cemetery, so it is a mystery how he ever found it. Marta, who sells flowers at the cemetery, says she first saw Capitán in 2007. He had a broken leg. She took him to a vet, who gave him anti-inflammatory medication and put his leg in a cast. After that he just stayed around the cemetery. “You can see he really loved his owner, ” said Marta. “Sometimes he goes back home, but he always returns. Many times his family wanted to take him, but then he comes back here.”
It was hard at first, but Damián now accepts the situation. “I tried to take him home several times, but he goes back to the cemetery. If that’s where he wants to be, that’s OK with me. He’s looking after my dad.”