Brant Ramm describes himself as a certified dog person. He has concrete proof.
Specifically, he has four 18-inch stone pavers, side by side, on the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s Walk of Honor commemorating his extraordinary bond with his extraordinary canine companions.
The Walk of Honor is a network of stone and brick walkways traversing the CVM campus. Donors memorialize a beloved pet or honor a medical professional, friend or family member through messages inscribed on a brick or paver. Brant decided the bricks weren’t large enough to accommodate everything he wanted to say about his dogs, so he opted for the more substantial pavers.
Ramm’s first dog was a black lab named Rook. Born in 1985, Rook is described as fearless and courageous on his paver. It also says Rook taught me how great a dog could be. In 1996, Rook took a hard fall and ruptured his spleen. In the course of being treated for that injury, it was discovered that Rook was suffering from testicular cancer, and that’s how Ramm first turned to the NC State Veterinary Hospital for help. He credits the excellent care that Rook received for his eventual recovery.
At one point when Rook was in intensive care he was non-responsive. When Ramm went to see Rook, he was brought out on a cart. He was on his side and wasn’t moving. But when Ramm called his name, Rook lifted his head and looked around, much to the surprise of the attending vets. Rook perked up and was discharged two days later. Ramm says that he and Rook usually spent so much time together that the dog simply felt that he had been abandoned and was essentially giving up. Ramm’s return visit gave Rook a reason to get better, he believes.
And he did get better, living to 15 ½ years old.
After his experience with Rook, Brant was a confirmed believer in the special bond between dogs and humans. It wasn’t long before a shepherd mix named Chess came into his life. Chess had been abused as a puppy by his previous owner in High Point, near where Ramm worked and not far from his home in nearby Climax. Ramm rescued him. Before long they, too, were inseparable. Chess lived to the ripe old age of 16. On his paver it says, “I rescued him, he rescued me, Chess taught me how intelligent a dog can be.”
His relationship with his dogs was — and is -— a very important part of Ramm’s life. His other two pavers on the Walk of Honor are blank because his two other canine companions, Sweetie and Sable, are very much alive. Sweetie brought his connection with dogs to another level, Ramm said. Sweetie, 15, was discovered as part of a litter of puppies left in a dumpster in southern Virginia.
Last year, Sweetie developed a gastrointestinal problem and was prescribed an antibiotic. Shortly afterward, she had a negative neurological reaction. Sweetie was unable to walk and showed signs of kidney and liver failure. It turned out to be a complex situation to unravel, and Brant says “I don’t think anyone else could have figured it out” besides the clinicians at NC State. Although it has been a protracted recovery involving a change of medications, Sweetie has improved about 90 percent, he says.
In keeping with his pattern, Ramm’s fourth dog is 8-year-old Sable, a Staffordshire terrier also rescued from a dumpster as a puppy. She had gone there to eat, apparently abandoned. Ramm says that he just happened to walk by her, and when he checked on her she jumped into his arms.
“I thought what better way to support NC State and to memorialize my dogs?” says Ramm of his four pavers on the Walk of Honor. “It just makes sense.”
Especially if you’re a certified dog person.
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine
This post was originally published in Veterinary Medicine News.