THOUGH he hasn't been playing at their heels for more than four years, Orange's Catholic community is sure to never forget Nic the Border Collie, who was a regular presence at services at St Joseph's and St Mary's churches for a number of years.
Nic, the faithful an constant companion of Father Paul Devitt, the Dean of the Cathedral of St Michael and St John in Bathurst, sadly passed away recently at the age of 14.
"To me, he was my greatest mate," Father Paul said.
"We had a long history together and for much of his life, Nic was by my side."
It's always good to have someone to relate your moods back to, and Nic always gravitated towards someone who was doing it tough.Father Paul Devitt
Fr Devitt departed Orange for Bathurst in January, 2015, bringing to an end a four-year stint in the city. He was previously appointed to Orange in 1986, 1991 and 1997.
Nic regularly accompanied Father Paul while he hosted services, and he said Nic built an engaging rapport with the Catholic community.
"People often commented on how surprised they were to see a dog in the church, but were delighted at the same time," he said.
"Whether it was for mass, weddings or funerals, Nic was always there."
Father Paul said Nic brought a calming character to churchgoers and was always there to support those coping with grief.
"As a breed, the Border Collie has a strong sense of a person's mood and Nic brought plenty of comfort to those who were sad," he said.
"It's always good to have someone to relate your moods back to, and Nic always gravitated towards someone who was doing it tough."
"Dogs have a different sense of what's going on in comparison to humans, and Nic always seemed to know when something was up with someone."
To Father Paul, Nic mirrored his relationship with God in terms of the notion of unconditional love.
"No matter how you're feeling, your dog loves you and is always happy to see you," he said.
"As a Christian, my connection to Nic mirrored the idea that God's love for us is everlasting and never wavers."
Although Nic has now passed, Father Paul said his spirit will continue to live on in the lives of the people he has been a part of.
"Nic had an enigmatic spirit that truly connected with anyone he met and while he's no longer here in physical form, his undying legacy will live on," he said.
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