The funeral for an elderly woman who devoted her life to caring for strays has apparently been attended by a band of her beloved animals.
Margarita Suarez fed up to 20 needy strays cats and dogs every day, Misiones Online reported.
She passed away in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca earlier this month and her coffin was taken to a local chapel ahead of her funeral.
A hound lies close to Margarita Suarez's coffin
But Suarez’s loved-ones found they were not alone in mourning her – with several stray dogs finding their way to the chapel as if hoping to pay their own respects.
The family say they asked staff if the dogs were local to the area but were told they did not recognise them, leading daughter Patricia Urrutia to assume they were the animals Suarez had been feeding near her home.
Urrutia told Nortre Digital the dogs kept a vigil throughout the night, describing the event as “something wonderful… on the saddest day of my life”.
Copy continues below...
Australia’s 9 News cites reports which claim: “On the day of the funeral on March 15 the dogs formed a procession behind the hearse and returned to the funeral home, only leaving once the body was being prepared for cremation.”
While some dismiss such reports as incidences of humans simply anthropomorphising the behaviour of animals, others believe beasts are very much able to feel grief.
Take the case of Ciccio, a 12-year-old German Shepherd who for many months continued to visit the church where his owner's funeral was held.
Ciccio at the altar of the church of Santa Maria Assunta in San Donaci, Puglia
Father Donato Panna said of the grieving hound's visits: "He's there every time I celebrate Mass and is very well behaved - he doesn't make a sound, I've not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in.
Wolf-cross Wiley appeared to shudder and sob over the gravestone, as a hand reaches out to stroke and reassure him “we miss her too.”
San Francisco vet and animal behaviourist Dr Sophia Yin believes dogs experience basic emotions, including grief, just as humans do, HealthDay reports.