Neighbor: Dorothy Ramsey

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

– A dog’s best friend


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Growing up in the steel town of Granite City, Ill. prior to World War II,

Dorothy Ramsey had a "devil dog" named Spotsie. Living now in Troy, she has an angel dog named Carmen Carmen.

Although generations and worlds apart, Spotsie brought the same devoted companionship to little Dorothy as Carmen Carmen brings to her in her senior years.

She cherishes them both.

"Granite City was the home of National Enamel and Stamp Company and they almost had a monopoly on enamel pans," Mrs. Ramsey said. "During World War II, the company made tin helmets for the soldiers."

Granite City was so important to the war effort that an army engineering depot was set up nearby to protect it against spy planes that might try to bomb it.

That was the kind of town Mrs. Ramsey grew up in and that’s the kind of town in which Spotsie roamed.

Granite City was a rough-tough town and Spotsie was a rough-tough dog, but he loved little Dorothy so much that he followed her to school.

"One day Spotsie came into my classroom and my teacher, who was a strict, stern woman, became very upset – much to the delight of my classmates," Mrs. Ramsey said.

The teacher threatened Spotsie’s life and the children begged and pleaded for it. The children prevailed and Spotsie was taken home and lived to a "good ol’ age."

Between then and now, Mrs. Ramsey met and married a dashing army officer and traveled the world over with him.

"We went to many wonderful places," she said. "In fact we went all the way around the world – not all at one time, but we did make it around the world."

Pulling up roots often left the Ramseys little opportunity for pets, but Mrs. Ramsey always held a special place in her heart for man’s best friend, however, in her case, woman’s best friend.

When her husband retired from the military, they came to the place of his family roots – Pike County.

"Two of Joe’s cousins left Pike County before the Civil War," Ramsey said. "They attended Davidson College in Virginia and worked their way through school by waiting tables at a boarding house. They both married daughters of the the boarding house lady. We wanted to come to Pike County and look around because Joe’s family had roots here. We liked it and we bought property and stayed."

The couple settled down in Pike County with two of man’s best friends – Salty and Sandy.

When her husband died, Mrs. Ramsey grew even closer to her canine friends. They were her constant companions. But, before long, Salty and Sandy were lost to old age. Mrs. Ramsey didn’t know how she could ever replace her old best friends.

However, Dr. Doug Hawkins knew she needed and wanted a faithful companion.

"I am so glad that he had me in mind when Carmen Carmen needed a home," Mrs. Ramsey said. "She’s a Lhasa Apso – that’s a Chinese breed – and it’s not common for a Lhasa Apso to have a bunch of puppies. Carmen Carmen had seven there at Dr. Hawkins’ office and she almost died. He and his son worked so hard trying to save her life. Thankfully, they did."

Carmen Carmen’s owner never returned to take her home.

"Dr. Hawkins didn’t want the dog to be destroyed, so he asked me if I wanted her," Mrs. Ramsey said.

"Of course, I was in the mood for a new dog and I said ‘yes.’ Now I don’t know what I would do without her. She is my constant companion.

She is company to me and I enjoy watching her play."

Carmen Carmen is not a watch dog, but she is an alarm dog.

"Anytime anyone comes around the house, she lets me know," Mrs. Ramsey said. "She will bark her head off until I come and see what all of the noise is about. I like having her here. There are a lot of people making a fuss over dogs right now, but there are people like me who depend on them. They are our companions and our friends. They make life a pleasure. We shouldn’t forget about the comfort and pleasure these animals bring to people like me who live alone – but not lonely."