A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

In Brazil Floods, the Dog Who Mourns

Leao won’t leave the grave of his “mom”

Leao, the dog who mourns

The human death toll from the floods in Brazil continues to rise. On Sunday, it had climbed to 803.

But the numbers never tell the true story. We’re better at understanding the grief and loss of individual people, not numbers in the hundreds and thousands.

Nor can we really understand the sense of loss that other animals experience. Perhaps this iconic photo tells us something of their grief, too.

Leao had already been lying next to the grave of her person, Cristina Maria Cesario Santana, for two days, refusing to move, when this photo was taken at the cemetery in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janeiro.

Soldiers entering parts of Teresopolis and had rescued 110 families, but Santana had not been among them.

Thousands of other families are still living on mountain slopes or on riverbanks and face extreme risk of being washed away. One resident described the disaster as a tsunami that fell from the sky.

Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral Filho said he had a panic attack when he was traveling to nearby Nova Friburgo and saw a devastated mountainside.