A SPONTANEOUS round of applause rang out around the church when it emerged that the family of Peggy Mangan had laid the ashes of her faithful 'best friend' Casper to rest by her side.
Neighbours of Mrs Mangan (65), some of whom lined out along the avenue to Mount Argus Church in Dublin with their own pets, gently bid farewell to the caring grandmother and her beloved pet by placing their hands on her coffin.
All the attributes of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel "certainly" applied to Casper, including those of being "loyal and faithful", Fr Joe Kennedy told the mourners.
"Remember that song 'All Dogs Go to Heaven'. We just pray as they were united in life they are now united in death," the Mass celebrant said.
Fr Kennedy said her husband, Tommy, and children, Louise, Orla and Jonathan, had been "overwhelmed" by the level of support they had received from hundreds of people after the tragic disappearance of the Alzheimer's sufferer.
The priest said her husband had spoken about the "bad things" that happen daily but this showed there were "so many good people" willing to step up to help others.
Mrs Mangan was a familiar sight as she strode down Mount Tallant Avenue in Terenure on Tuesday, September 24, for her daily walk with 10-year-old Casper. Her family swiftly sought help after she failed to return home, sparking a mammoth search.
Gardai trawled CCTV footage and the streets, while 150 volunteers helped to comb parklands in the north Dublin area.
She had been spotted on CCTV footage in the Lanesborough area of Finglas at 10pm on the day of her disappearance.
Mrs Mangan had set off without cash, her phone or a bus pass and it is believed she walked the entire nine kilometres to the grassy area near Ikea in Ballymun, where she was later found four days later.
Her adored family pet was alive by her side but died just hours later in the care of a vet.
Her son-in-law, Darragh Lynch, described how they learnt that the "lifelong carer" had stumbled upon the film set of 'Mrs Brown' during her journey that day, and had stopped to speak with the crew.
"That would have left such a smile on her face," he said, adding: "Good old Casper, devoted to Peggy to the very end."
Many of the messages left by strangers and neighbours alike near where she was found, and on social media sites, caused many to shed tears.
One recalled: "She became everybody's mother that was missing and had to be found."
A photograph of Peggy and Casper was brought to the alter, along with a packet of her beloved Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers that she'd often shared with her pet.
Among the mourners were searchers, gardai, Alzheimer's support groups and animal rescue charities.
Her neighbours and their pets were invited to walk down the aisle of the church as the coffin was taken to Mount Jerome Crematorium.