Watch grieving dog of Peterlee man who led the funeral procession for his best friend
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Gareth Richards, 36, from Peterlee, passed away in June and was given his final send-off just days ago.
His best friend was his loving pet dog Malic, who is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross. Gareth's family were keen for the devoted pet to be there at the funeral.
The video was produced by Julie Stout, co-director at Delanoy Funeral Services, who conducted the funeral for the Richards’ family.
It shows Malic taking a fond look at a photo of his pal before leading the funeral procession.
Julie has been making videos of funerals at the request of families as a precious keepsake of their loved ones’ final journey since the business launched in 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic.
She said: “This funeral service and video were particularly poignant for us as Gareth idolised his dog Malic, they lived together and really were best friends.
“After speaking at length with his family to arrange the service, we knew we had to make sure that Malic was at Gareth’s funeral just as he was in his life – by his side.
“It was so emotional as John and I are dog owners and lovers. We know how much Malic is going to miss Gareth, so that’s why it was so important for us to make this happen.”
Since releasing the video on social media with the permission of the family, including Gareth’s older brothers Chris, 42, and Barry, 45, it has reached over 850,000 people worldwide.
More than 100,000 people have watched the video and commented on what a fitting tribute it was to the memory of Gareth who passed away unexpectedly.
John said: “We work tirelessly is to give people the send-off they would want and deserve, surrounded by the people that mattered most to them.
“We know that it has given his loved ones some comfort knowing that his best friend was there by his side the way it always was before his untimely death.”
Gareth attended Shotton Hall Comprehensive School student and worked for Durham County Council and Hays Travel.
Another of his brothers, Michael, is now looking after Malic.