After Brazil flooding, loyalty to the dead
January 17th, 2011
06:10 PM ET

After Brazil flooding, loyalty to the dead

As the death toll from devastating flooding in Brazil continues to rise, a single picture drives home the sense of loss.

Leao, a medium-sized brown mutt,  lies next to the grave of her owner, Cristina Maria Cesario Santana, who died in the catastrophic landslides caused by heavy rain.  This AFP/Getty picture was taken on Saturday, the second consecutive day that the dog refused to leave the woman's grave at the cemetery in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janiero.

Brazilians are bracing for more rain, fearing more landslides after waves of muddy water swallowed towns in the country's worst flood disaster on record.

At least 655 deaths were reported in a mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state, northeast of the city of Rio.

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Filed under: Animals • Brazil • Weather
soundoff (563 Responses)
  1. Yoon Lee

    What can we do to help Leao!? Is he being looked after or adopted by somebody!?

    January 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gracie

      Yes, I would like to know too.

      January 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cindi

    To have been loved by a knows the true experience of unconditional...forever, love.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ivan

    poor puppy. dogs are apart of the family. although once during my stay in korea i did eat one. they are a special animal.

    January 20, 2011 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      Was the point of your comment just to show us all what a witty person you are? If so, you failed.

      February 12, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • MIdwestmatt


      February 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pam

    I hope this dog finds his forever home, from what I see he sure deserves one!

    January 20, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. MikeOOooS

    This is the kind of heart wrenching story that is played out a thousand times a day, all around the world. Maybe someday, as a specie, we well see true brotherhood and respect shown here by a lowly dog for it's master....But I doubt most will give this a second thought. Very poignant photo.

    January 20, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Nick

    Any chance we can get an update on this? The loyalty of Leao deserves to have an ending to the story, not just this blurb.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Brazilian Girl

      He was adopted, there were hundreds of people willing to adopt him! He's a lovely doggie and became very famous in Brazil!
      I read that many animals that were rescued from this tragedy have been adopted too! Great news!
      You shall love animals and I believe the day man starts to respect and learn compassion from our furry friends the world will be a better place to live! By the way, all sort of alive being must be protected and respected!
      Say no to meat, say no to murder!

      February 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt S

    Reading through the comments above just reaffirms why I like dogs more than people.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • maureen g. o'brien

      Exactly. Humans and their stupid selfishness. I rarely cry when people die, but when I experience the loss of a pet or hear about one I know dying – I'm a wreck. In fact, I hope if there's a Heaven when I die, the first thing I want to see is all of the pets I've lost on Earth waiting for me!!!! Kudos to 'Leao' I wish someone loved me that much!!!

      January 21, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • lunar

      @maureen g. o'brien Well maybe no one loves you that much because you dont care when people die. Only when animals do.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. T. Lee

    Nothing like a "feel-good" story (or touching one) TO BRING OUT THE TROLLS – so they can enter outrageous, insensitive, mean-spirited comments and then feed on the responses.

    They are creatins – one and all – and too bad their mothers didn't have their maternal nutritional deficiency of iodine taken care of during their formation. Their imagined "superiority" because they suppose they are controlling those who respond angrily iidentifies them as anything BUT "superior".

    January 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rescuer

    Does anyone know how a responsbile rescue organization can save this dog? If so reply to this email.

    January 21, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jezabel Dobie

    Reminds me of the movie where the dog waited for years by the train station waiting for his masters return (which i believe was a true story). I find it is just as heart wrenching to see all the empty graves behind the dog's owners...that are waiting to be filled. Wow.....that would be hard to deal human, canine, feline, just whatever it would be friggin' hard to deal with.

    January 21, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • D L Roads

      I saw that movie, too. 🙂

      January 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • LittlePot

      I cried watching that movie of Richard Gere.. Execllent movie based on a true story. The town has built a statue in the square at the front of the train station.

      February 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • LittlePot

      Statue for the dog that is... and the name of he movie is "Hachiko A Dog's Tale"

      February 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shari Atukorala

    I do hope someone will take care of the dog... I would like to know whether anyone has taken care of it... so very sad

    January 23, 2011 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. corey fortin north adams mass

    i want him he desurves more love for the rest of his dioggy life

    January 23, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Thiago

    Ok, the truth of this story has been told. This dog is owned by the guy who manages and digs the graves. He is not the dog that belonged to the person buried. Her dog has been adopted by a lawyer. The dog escaped and got caught again. He is a happy dog and is adapting well. However, there are many dogs up for adoption because the deaths of their owners. Theree are many ways to help just do some google search on the topic.

    January 24, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Loach

    People...its been already reported that this story is fake. The dog belongs to the cemetery keeper and is a bit like the real one that belonged to the owner but which has absolutely nothing to do with this story and was not even there...and besides HOW WOULD THE DOG KNOW THAT IT WAS HIS OWNER BURIED THERE? SMELL? Give me a break, the body is not only buried but it is also decomposing. Stop being sensitive over stupid things which are not even true...

    February 3, 2011 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Alberto

    If this was made up or just a mistake I don t know, but this story is false. It has been found that this dog belongs to a cemetery worker, and was just sitting there . i m a brazilian, I know better.

    February 3, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
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