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Dog blocked from attending owner's funeral

The Local/og · 20 Mar 2012, 11:52

Published: 20 Mar 2012 11:52 GMT+01:00

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Willy Thern, who was 81, passed away last Saturday after a long battle with cancer. He spent his last weeks at home, however, in order to be closer to his wife Gun and their beloved pet dog Milo.

“In our 56-year marriage we had, all told, eight dogs,” said the man’s wife, Gun Thern, to the local Helsingborg Dagbladet (HD) newspaper.

“Because we never had any children, they became our girls and boys”.

However, despite the couple's close ties with their pets, Thern's widow was denied permission by Välluv Church, in Helsingborg, southern Sweden, to bring Milo to her late husband's burial service.

Gun explained that she only asked that the dog be allowed in for one hour, stating that authorities wouldn't prohibit a guide dog from coming to a funeral and that Milo shouldn’t be a problem either.

However, despite Willy's wishes to have the dog by his coffin, the priest, Markus von Martens, remained staunch on church policies, and refused to allow nine-year-old Milo into the building.

“This is primarily because we have people with allergies. If we allow dogs in the church then we’ll be forced to clean up afterwards. That’s a big project for a church from the 1100’s,” von Martens said to HD.

With a staff of over 20 people, the priest explained that it was his responsibly to make a choice that would suit everyone involved – including church visitors.

Story continues below…

“I realize that animals are God’s creations, but burial rituals are meant for mourners. However, I could imagine that Gun could have a moment outside the church, before or after the burial, so that the dog can be with them,” the priest said.

Gun told the paper that Milo was the last of their dogs, and that all she wanted was for him to be able to come to the coffin with her for one final goodbye to Willy.

The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:13 March 20, 2012 by Snood
I would have expected a story like this to come from the UK, not Sweden
14:15 March 20, 2012 by Mxzf
Then hold the funeral in another church. And maybe close down that church from 1100 so it doesn't have to be cleaned, ever.
15:56 March 20, 2012 by AmericanInSweden
In the states, our church holds the "Blessing of the Animals" indoors. I wonder if there is such an event in Sweden. People bring everything from pigs, horses, dogs, cats, small rodents and so on. Well behaved dogs can sit in the back. The church I attended was older than dirt. A small mission with NO STAFF, only the Priest and anyone who volunteered. The Priest owned a dog himself and several cats. This story is ludicrous.
17:20 March 20, 2012 by libertarianism
Markus von Martens, you are a selfish ape. You had the chance to do something beautiful for a grieving family and instead you chose to be a prick. May you step in dog poo, eternally.

#3, Very sweet.
17:43 March 20, 2012 by Flygger

I agree with you all the way.

What a pathetic excuse von Martens has come up with.

Was his responsibility not towards the deceased and his wishes alongside the considerations for the bereaved ??

Apparently not. He has shamed himself and the church.
17:46 March 20, 2012 by OUIJA
Markus VON Martens is a cretine. Let us plan his funeral with an animal inside his coffin so he will learn to love animals and to respect a dead man last wish. What a jerk.

# 3 AmericaninSweden. Thanks for your comment. Thanks.

We have the same in my country, in the most famous sixteen

Century Old Church, attended yearly by MILLIONS or worshipers. No contaminations of anything has been ever reported.
17:57 March 20, 2012 by Twiceshy
Dogs can actually get a sense of closure by smelling the dead body of their owners. From what I've read they seem very much aware of death and can move on better if they know what happened to their owners as opposed to the uncertainty of them just "disappearing".

So at the very least they should let the dog see and smell the body.
18:48 March 20, 2012 by OUIJA

Give me one very good reason why someone should not respect this man's last wish. Just one. He was not requesting the destruction of the church, not the murder of his wife, nor the anihilation of Reinfeldt's dicttorship. He wanted his beloved Milo to be with him. That was all.

Mr. VON (sounds German) Martens, is, I repeat, a jerk. I truly hope that when he dies, no one attends his funeral. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.
21:02 March 20, 2012 by md2perpe
This makes me think of Sweden's most loved country song Änglahund. It can be found in English on YouTube under the name "Angel buddy".
23:37 March 20, 2012 by waffen
This is really sad.

The dog will have a difficult time in the days to come. The animal can sense death, and being near the dead friend would have helped to ease the pain of the loss.

Thankfully, the wife yet remains to tend to the friend and companion and to help ease him through the next weeks and months.

This priest has to yet answer to the other world of which he professes to teach and know. He has a big surprise coming his way.
23:48 March 20, 2012 by J Jack
I'm glad they named the priest so now I can go and kick his sorry butt.
09:02 March 21, 2012 by karex
This is very sad. The animals love us unconditionally, something we seem incapable of understanding. Dogs also don't have a sense of time as we do. One hour and one year could mean more or less to them as I have heard.

They do need to have closure so they can understand as already pointed out in earlier posts. I have read about cases of animals spending years in a spot waiting for their dead owners to come back because they don't relalize the person died. One case in Barzil of a dog whose owner was run over while walking him. The dog followed the ambulance all the way to the hospital. Unfortunately the man did not make it. The dog is patiently waiting in front of the emergency room entrance for over 5 years now. The hospital staff care for and feed him. He won't leave without his owner.
17:12 March 22, 2012 by unfortunate
Sad. This story reminded me of the dog who attended his owner's funeral after he was killed in Afganistan.

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