Among all the misinformation posted online, there’s one image regularly shared on Facebook that’s a little kinder than the rest. Cuddlier, even. And maybe you’ve seen it: a dog that looks like it could be a yellow lab curled on top of a grave.
"It has been 7 years," begins a June 19 post of the image. "The cemetery does not close the gates until he arrives every night. His name is Captain. He sleeps by his master’s grave every night. Semper Fi!"
The post has an American flag emoji and the words, "I hope I get just one share."
It got more than 25,000 times that, and it was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
That’s because not everything is as it seems in the post. There was a dog named Capitán who slept at his owner’s graveside, according to Argentinian newspaper La Voz del Interior, but it wasn’t the dog pictured.
In 2012, the paper reported that in Villa Carlos Paz, a mutt called Capitán, described as having some German Shepherd in him, disappeared after his owner, Miguel Guzmán, died in March 2006. They thought the dog had died until Guzmán’s widow and son went to the cemetery about 15 blocks away and found Capitán there. The dog wouldn’t follow them and instead stayed in the cemetery, according to La Voz. The following Sunday, the dog walked home with them "but then returned to the cemetery," La Voz quotes Guzmán’s widow as saying.
Capitán would sometimes visit the house but "he returns to the cemetery," La Voz quotes Guzmán’s son as saying.
The newspaper reported that it confirmed the story with Héctor Baccega, the director of the Municipal Cemetery of Villa Carlos Paz. Cemetery employees saw Capitán enter the cemetery for the first time in January 2007. A video with the news story shows Capitán to be black with tan markings.
"Every day, at six in the afternoon, he goes and lies down in front of that grave," Baccega is quoted as saying. "Capitán walked the cemetery with me every day. But when that time comes he goes to the bottom, where his master’s grave is."
In February 2018, more than a decade after Miguel Guzmán’s death, Capitán also died, according to La Paz. He had lived in the cemetery among other stray dogs but he spent nights at his master’s grave, the paper says.
In August, Carlos Paz debuted a monument to the dog in the cemetery.
We don’t know the origins of the image featured in the Facebook post, but it’s appeared on websites like Reddit, where it was shared in 2017 under the title: "Must have been a good human. Dogs are something else." After it was posted on imgur.com a few days later, one user commented: "FYI, this is from a Facebook post that clarified the dog moved from spot to spot, not keeping any specific headstone company."
This Facebook post appears to blend fact with fiction. A dog named Capitán — Spanish for captain — reportedly slept by his deceased owner’s grave every night. But he was a black German Shepherd mix — not at all similar to the yellow lab depicted in the photo — and he apparently spent most of his time at the cemetery, not, not arriving at its cemetery gates every night. And this all happened in Argentina, not the United States. So while the U.S. Marine Corps motto of Semper Fi, or "always faithful," might apply, the American flag emoji does not.
We rate this Facebook post False.