James William Warner tragically passed away at the young age of 22. His loss broke the hearts of his family and friends, who described Warner as someone who wanted to “keep a smile on everyone’s face.”
Everybody loved him, and so did his loyal dog Ace. During his funeral, the grieving pup refused to leave his owner’s grave.
In a heartbreaking photo shared on Facebook by Warner’s mother, Christy West Warner, the dog is seen lying atop his owner’s fresh grave.
When Christy learned of her son’s death, her world was shattered.
“It’s like I had an out-of-body experience. I just collapsed. My whole world was broken into a million pieces,” she told the Tennessean.
“Every second I stayed with Will was a joy. He was just larger than life, he was just a good boy. He was so personable,” she added.
The police have arrested the 25-year-old suspect, a son of a judge, after an alert was sounded in the area for his whereabouts.
Warner’s body was heavily decomposed by the time it reached Christy and her husband, James Robert, so the burial needed to be done immediately. The family didn’t even have time to pick out a casket for their son.
“We’ve been robbed of everything. Every last ounce of closure or peace that we could possibly get from saying goodbye, we didn’t get to do,” Warner’s mother continued.
Warner’s uncle is Tennessee state representative Todd Warner, who described his nephew as someone who “loved life and loved people.”
“It’s just a tragic ending to something that should’ve never happened,” he said.
Warner was a “typical country boy,” according to his uncle. His family raises chickens for Tyson Foods, and he grew up helping in growing row crops and breeding cattle.
Another member of the family was heartbroken over Warner’s passing—his dog, Ace.
Out pets’ lives revolve around us, so when we’re gone, it’s the equivalent of losing everything for them. Worse, there’s no way to explain the sudden loss of the person they loved.
We don’t know much about how dogs comprehend death, but Ace seemed to understand where his owner had gone during his funeral. The loyal dog made sure to never leave his side.
At the funeral, Ace didn’t leave the casket’s side. And when Warren was finally laid to rest, he lay down on the grave and refused to get up. The dog appeared to grieve, wanting to be as close to his owner even after he had died.
Christy said that Ace went to school with Warner every day during high school and waited in his truck.
“This dog is so special and Will was so proud of him,” she said.
As a child, she said that Warner loved riding on four-wheelers and playing in the creek and mud.
According to a family member, Warner brought Ace to church and every family function. She remembers him hanging out in the flatbeds and only getting down when he saw Warner or when he called for him. It’s clear that the pair shared a special bond.
Warner must have loved Ace so much when he was still alive that the dog was truly devastated over his death. Only a good owner would earn that kind of loyalty from an animal.
Experts have weighed in on whether dogs grieve for their deceased human owners.
“When an owner passes away before her pet, it can be a confusing, sad, and difficult period, even if arrangements have been made for the animal to be taken care of by someone else,” said Russell Hartstein, a Los Angeles-based certified behaviorist and dog trainer.
This is indeed a tragic incident for everyone involved. We hope for healing for Warner’s family and friends and, of course, his best friend Ace.