By all accounts, reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was shot to death in an Ottawa terrorist attack Wednesday, was a devoted dad to his 6-year old son as well as the two dogs he’d rescued from a shelter.
In a photo posted yesterday by Molly Hayes on Twitter, Cirillo’s German Shepherds peer under their gate in Hamilton, Ontario, anxiously watching for their dog dad’s return.
“Cirillo’s dogs. Such a sad sight,” wrote Hayes, a reporter for the Hamilton Spectator, of the photo that’s broken thousands of hearts.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina told the Associated Press Cirillo, 24, was a lifelong military enthusiast who joined the cadets 11 years ago. He was training to become a soldier, and had been assigned to his post — standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where he was shot — for only a couple of days.
“When you’re a soldier you understand that when you go into harm’s way that there’s always the possibility that the worst could happen, but who would ever think of it standing in ceremony?” Bratina said.
Cirillo’s friend Ashley Moerschfelder told the AP, “He knew what he liked and what he wanted, and being a soldier was one of his main goals. He loved watching war movies, and his son, he absolutely loved his son and tried his best to be a loving, fun parent.”
Another friend, Danielle Townsend, said Cirillo was the most compassionate person she’d ever met. “He was all about family, friends and loyalty,” she told the AP.
Cirillo was a dedicated animal lover. Just last month, he rescued a sickly, abandoned puppy, according to the Independent. After taking it to a vet and ensuring it was nursed back to health, he found a forever home for the pup.
The majority of the photos Cirillo posted on his Instagram account were of his dogs. He obviously adored them, and they appear to have adored him right back.
“Ok I guess I’m a pillow…<3,” he wrote in the caption for the photo on the right.
Today Cirillo’s body was transported, fittingly, in a procession along the Highway of Heroes from Ottawa to Hamilton, where he will be laid to rest.
His funeral will be held Tuesday. Hopefully the guests will include his dearly beloved four-legged family members.
Photos via Twitter and Instagram