The Gift

by Cindi on April 2, 2017

Here we are again. I was here less than a year and a half ago when we lost Chance. I was here two months later when we lost Mike. Just weeks after that, we lost Boomer. The Boomer blogpost never happened because losing three granddogs within two months, each with their own tragic story, was too much. Sometimes there are no words. And when I went for my yearly physical the next week, my doctor asked me how things were going. I burst into tears. Over dogs.

I loved them all. I miss them all. Too many gone. Too close together. Too soon.

At that time, all our eyes turned to Ramsey. We knew she was getting up there in doggy years. But she acted so young. She jumped and ran and played. She would never make the journey to the Rainbow Bridge to meet her cousin-pups.

Until she did.

Will was a 20-year-old college student when he adopted Ramsey. Named for the UNC Tar Heels ram mascot, she joined a long list of animals with UNC names. There was Kenan, (named for the stadium) and Bella (named for the Bell Tower) and even a fish named Pete Chilcutt. (I saw Pete Chilcutt once in a restaurant. I said, “My son named his goldfish after you.” He said, “He named it ‘Pete?'” I said, “Nope. ‘Pete Chilcutt.’ The whole thing.”) Oh, and there was another fish – Water Jordan. “Not Air Jordan, Mommy. WATER Jordan.” He was eight.

Back to the 20-year-old college student. When he called to say he’d adopted a dog, I was horrified. A DOG? He couldn’t even take care of himself! Poor dog would starve or run away and look for a more responsible owner. I went straight to the off-campus house to see the poor pup. I was standing in the den talking about food and vets and leashes when the black flash that was Ramsey ran by me and jumped out the window. The yard was fenced…Ramsey did her thing and jumped back in. (Will swears to this day it was a doggie door. I swear it was a window.)

Soon after, Will (and Ramsey) moved to Summerville, SC to film the television show Palmetto Pointe. When I visited, I noticed that those two – a boy and his dog – were more connected than any human and animal I’d ever seen. That dog waited patiently for every direction from Will. Wherever he pointed, she went. She never really needed a leash. Point to her bed? She was on it. Point to the car? She was waiting for the door to open so she could hop in.

He taught her so many tricks, she could’ve joined the circus. One announcement of “bang” and she would fall dramatically to the floor and lie still until he said she could get up. Oh, and her favorite sleeping spot? The BACK of any piece of furniture; she slept on the sofa behind Will’s head most of the time.

Years kept creeping by. Will’s life changed as he chased his dream, city-to-city, job-to-job. Ramsey lived with him in New York City (three times) and waited patiently in tiny apartments while he auditioned and waited tables and served drinks to celebrities. She stayed with me when he filmed movies, and I sang her song (“Ramselina, Ramselina, Ramseliiiiiinnnnnaaaaa. Ramselina Mae Louiseeeee…” I can hear it in my head. I’m sure you can’t unless you’ve ever heard the screech of that last “liiiiinnnnnaaaaaa.”)

Ramsey was the constant in my son’s life. Here’s what he wrote on her tenth birthday:

My ten year old girl had a wonderful birthday. She felt so much love from so many. Gifts were sent, friends visited.

For those who don’t know, I almost adopted a Pomeranian because as I was searching the papers in North Carolina in late March/early April 2003, everyone I called was out of dogs. I didn’t know what a Pomeranian was at the time…but I was on my way to grab it. (I’m not downplaying Pomeranians; I’m sure they are just lovely.) When I was opening the door to go get the puffy little dog, my phone rang. A lab owner who I had called a week prior had one left, a runt, who he had previously sold, but the buyer didn’t show. That’s where I went. She was tiny. A tiny little mixed black lab. And she loved to eat dandelions. 

In a Greensboro, NC trailer park…my sweet Ramsey became my first guardian angel. I haven’t cried in ten years without having a shoulder. I haven’t slept in ten years without having a soul next to me. This girl, at six weeks old…used to sit on my shoulder while I drove. She’s seen all of my favorite films and heard all of my favorite songs. She’s heard me be an ass, and she’s heard me be a gentlemen. And she’s watched a whole heck of a lot of North Carolina basketball games. 

I can’t believe she’s ten. I can’t believe the love she’s given me. I can’t believe she’s lived with me through multiple films, jobs, and journeys. She’s lived in 6 big cities, lived with me in three states…and she never stops loving me unconditionally. I know she won’t live forever, as no one does…but I’ll go to the grave coveting that look. Those bright kind eyes, and her smell. 

Ramsey Isadora Felton Triplett, you are the best dog anyone could ever ask for. I love you, times infinity.

This weekend Will is visiting a high school friend in California. We had our usual conversations about Ramsey coming to stay with me. Our timing was off, though. I had some work obligations and wouldn’t be home. He was busy and wouldn’t be able to drive the four hours it would take to get her to me. So reluctantly he boarded her.

Sometime during her second night there, Ramselina Mae Louise fell asleep and didn’t wake up.

Our first feelings were denial: that’s impossible! She’s fine!

Next came guilt and regret: she should have been here with me, in the yard by the water that she loved. Maybe she’d still be here, and that phone call to California would have never happened.

But as I told Will – this was her last gift to him. As totally devastated as he is, this day was sure to come. How much worse would it have been if he had returned to his apartment from a random trip to Walmart and found her there? How excruciating would it have been to watch her go through the stages of elderly dogdom and then have to make that heart wrenching decision to send her to the Rainbow Bridge?

She waited until he was 2,411 miles away…and just went to sleep.

I thank her for that gift to my child. And I thank her for being by his side for all those years, the ones that made my little boy a man.

Say woof to Chance and Mike and Boomer, Ramselina. We’ll always love you times infinity.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jane April 3, 2017 at 6:17 am

As my eyes fill with tears reading about your Will’s love for his dear girl, I am reminded of my Lucy. I don’t think you ever think you could love a pup as much as you do, but you do. I do believe that they sense things before we do and they purposely leave us in ways that would cause us the least amount of pain. I am grieving for your dear Ramsey. I am hoping that someday, when he is ready, that Will will find that kind of love again.


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