ROBBIE WARD: Last morning with a canine friend touches hearts



Standing in the Tupelo Bark Park on Tuesday morning with my 1-year-old German Shepherd, I saw a car pull up.

Seeing someone else at the dog park before 8 a.m. surprised me since I wouldn’t usually be there. Vicktor and I went there on a whim, me hoping he’d run off some of his energy before I went to work.

From a distance, I saw what looked like a boxer enter the park with his owner. Vicktor ran toward him, looking for a friend. I followed to make sure Vicktor didn’t get into trouble. As I approached the dog, I saw him limp, not putting weight on a front leg.

“Is your dog hurt?” I asked the owner.

“He has cancer,” she said.

I stood silent and watched the dog limp on his three strong legs. The woman said her dog’s name was Ramesses.

“I gave him a lot of treats this morning,” she said. “I wanted to take him here one last time.”

I stood watching the woman stand close to her dog she rescued from a shelter, when he was a puppy. Now 8 years old and a part of the woman’s family, Ramesses winced as he walked.

Young Vicktor tried to get Ramesses to play, barking at him when the dog stood still. Ramesses stayed toward the front of the park; Vicktor harassed him a few minutes longer until a ball I threw distracted him.

With cancer and pain spreading inside Ramesses, his owner said he would be euthanized that day.

I could tell the woman took Ramesses to the park with a heavy heart, wanting his last experiences to be happy.

Ramesses made the most of his visit, balancing on a front and hind leg to hydrate the red fire hydrant at the park. Foam around his mouth clearly indicated his pleasure for the dog park.

When the woman went to leave, I tried to think of something to say.

“I can tell you love him,” I said.

Posey’s story

In the park with Vicktor after they left, I called my wife to share the experience. Nearly a year ago when I lived in Scranton, Pa., we adopted Posey, an 11-year-old German Shepherd who had been abused and overbred. She didn’t even have much hair when first brought to the shelter.

Robbie and Posey. (Photo by C. Todd Sherman)

Robbie and Posey. (Photo by C. Todd Sherman)

We knew our time with Posey would be relatively short. Her bad hips kept her downstairs when we went to bed at night. But we’d wake each morning to hear Posey oinking and moving around downstairs.

The move to the South helped Posey’s joints. It seemed like a miracle the first time she walked up the stairs to the second floor of my Tupelo apartment. We loved her so much and felt so happy to see her health improving.

But in May we saw the signs: Posey stopped eating for days at a time and began to turn aggressive toward 6-month-old Vicktor. And then one Saturday, Posey climbed the stairs a final time and lay down next to the bed where we were.

Posey never walked from that spot or anywhere else again. We had to slide a hammock underneath her to carry her downstairs and to the car.

Pressing Posey’s stomach, the veterinarian said our dog was filled with tumors.

My wife and I both held Posey as she took her last breath.

Overwhelmed with the moment Tuesday at the dog park, I forgot to ask Ramesses’ “mama” her name. I called every vet clinic in Tupelo, some twice, until I found where she took Ramesses. I left my contact info and asked the receptionist to pass it along, but I never heard from the woman.

I suspect she feels like I did when Posey died.

We often attach ourselves to people and animals knowing their loss will hurt more than we can imagine.

But we still do it – because of love.

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  • Janice Rucker

    I know the sadness connected to this story. I suffered through having LaReeca’s 15 year old poodle put to sleep a few years ago. The heartbreak was terrible even if it was only an animal involved. I appreciated the kindness of our Newton’s doctor and
    I missed the little dog so much. I love this story.

  • FrereJocques

    It is almost impossible for me to read a story like this without getting a tear or two in my eye. I too lost a beloved dog a couple of months ago, a Boston Terrier named Sophie. She was my significant other’s dog, actually, but that didn’t matter. She loved both of us, and in fact all who came in contact with her. She loved to cuddle against me in the crook of my arm and go to sleep there. She’d sleep all night with me if I let her, which was hard to do because she snored. Even today, a couple of months later, her and her family still get teared up when they think about her, maybe from coming across one of her toys they haven’t found yet.

    My sympathies go out to Mr. Ward and the owner of Ramesses. BTDT. Bought the T-shirt. God bless. Try to remember the good times. It helps.

  • BunnyGirl

    This is such a bitter sweet story. I knew Posey, I worked in the shelter
    where she was adopted from. She was adopted around Christmas of last
    year. She was a sweet soul. I made sure she went for a walk every
    morning; she never went in her kennel. I also made sure she had a warm,
    soft blanket for her to lay on. She loved squeeky toys and treats. She
    was a happy girl. I’m happy to know that she lived out the rest of her
    life being loved unconditionally.

    • Posey’s mama

      Thanks for taking care of Posey before we adopted her!. I always say that it was Posey who rescued us. We loved her very, very much. She will always have a especial place in our hearts.

    • starkvillecityjail

      @bunnygirl12785:disqus, I’m glad you commented here. We would have never known about you making sure she walked each day. I know Posey appreciated your compassion and concern for her, and so do @Posey’s mama:disqus and I.

  • Max Vincent

    We like to proclaim that we rescue dogs, cats, etc. The opposite is quite true. They rescue us.

  • kim

    Wow!!!! Wonderful story in the paper. We said goodbye to our 15 yr old doxie this past Thurs. at the kind ‘act of love’ from Dr Jamie in Saltillo. We took her to the Bark Park on Wed. afternoon, and although she had completely lost her sight and hearing, her sweet little tail never ceased to wag. It had been sometime since she had been to the dog park, but it was very sad knowing it would be her last visit. I thought to myself that day at Dr Jamie’s, how broken our hearts always are when we lose one, and we decided they are so worth the heartache of losing them. We held her while she passed over to rainbow bridge to join her Mother and brother. We miss her and love her always!

  • Elizabeth Kingston-Cantwell Ch

    I’m happy to have found this post, as it was me who had brought my big ol’dog to play as best he could before I had to say goodbye. Ramses was a great dog, never met anyone he didn’t like. I knew he was my buddy as soon as I saw him come in at the shelter when I worked there.. Miss him so much. Thank You Robbie.