A dog was able to say goodbye to his owner one last time – standing on his hind legs and leaning on the casket at a private viewing.

William Schiller, known as Bill, died on April 8 and his beloved dog Chief bid him farewell at his private viewing in North Carolina on April 11.

The touching photo was snapped by 12-year-old Nina Holcombe, whose grandmother was Bill’s girlfriend.

She posted the photo on her Instagram with a caption that read, ‘I miss you Mr. Bill

Sam James, director at James Funeral Home in Huntersville, said: “To see a dog standing on his tippy toes looking into a casket struck the heartstrings of this community.”

Anne Marie Sibthrop, who was Bill’s girlfriend, said: “I didn’t even know she was taking it.”

Anne Marie described the moment Chief said goodbye to Bill in an interview with NBC .

She said: “I’ll never forget. He stretched his neck in as far as he could, and he gave Bill just one little quick lick on his ear, and of course, Bill didn’t move.

“And Chief laid his head right down by his head, and just laid there for the longest time.”

Anne Marie rescued Chief in 2014, and it was Bill who convinced her to keep him, despite his size and energy level.

Bill had only once had a pet of his own, Anne Marie said.

“He was in the military. He worked a full-time job. He went to school. He taught flying. He just never really had an opportunity to have a pet,” she said. 

“I kept telling him [Bill] I’m going to have to find this dog a home, with a mommy and a daddy and kids. 

“He walked in the house and took one look at Chief, he didn’t say anything to me, he just took one look at this dog and said, “We’re keeping that dog.”‘

The two had a long distance relationship until autumn 2017, when Bill was diagnosed with dementia and moved in with Anne Marie and Chief in Huntersville, North Carolina.

Bill had been living in Florida up until that time, and when he came to live with them, Anne Marie had Chief trained as a therapy dog so he could accompany them everywhere, even if Bill needed care outside of their home. 

James said he is often asked to accommodate a last goodbye for animals grieving the loss of their human companions. 

“(Pets) grieve when they lose somebody that they love, and I believe it helps them connect the dots in the same way it helps us connect the dots,” he said.

Anne Marie was thankful the funeral home honored that wish for Chief and Bill. 

“He got to say goodbye to his daddy. And that was important,” Anne Marie said.

SEE ALSO: Dog’s Heartfelt Visit to Dying Owner in Hospital for Final Goodbye