EXCLUSIVE - Marife Ramos teared up Wednesday night as she looked at her 8-year-old son nestling his 2-month-old puppy, Conrad.
The puppy, she said, reminds her of her husband, Ulysses, who was killed in a vehicular collision along Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City, which spared Marife, their 3 children and Conrad.
A cement mixer on Tuesday toppled over and crushed the Ramos family's sedan, killing the 34-year-old Ulysses. Marife broke her right arm while the 3 children suffered minor scratches.
Rescuers meanwhile saw Conrad following one of the crash survivors who was walking away from the wreckage, according to a staffer of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), whose personnel were among the first to respond to the scene.
Jail officer Jenny Ramirez told ABS-CBN News the puppy was brought to the crash survivors as they received first aid in an ambulance. The family however asked rescuers to hold on to the puppy for safekeeping.
A BJMP employee brought the dog to their office nearby.
“Siyempre po, kinomfort po ng mga kasama ko yung dog kasi ano siya, nanginginig,” she recalled. (Of course, my colleagues attended to the dog. He was shivering at that time.)
Ramirez, herself an animal lover, was among those who cared for Conrad. No stranger to caring for animals, she has 11 dogs at home, 6 of which she found abandoned on the streets.
She said she understands the bond between a dog and its owners so she did not think twice about bringing Conrad back to his family.
“Kasi alam ko yung pakiramdam ni Ma’am, na parang part na rin siya ng family,” she explained. “Actually, family member na siya kaya kailangang maibalik siya sa tunay na may-ari.”
(I know how the mother must have felt. The puppy is already part of the family so I must bring him back to them.)
On Wednesday night, Ramirez and an officemate brought Conrad to Ulysses’ wake at a funeral home in Quezon City to personally hand him over to the family.
First to welcome the puppy was Ulysses’ 8-year-old son, whose eyes lit up at the sight of his friend. He could not stop petting the puppy, as Conrad rested benignly on Ramirez’s arms.
Ramirez hopes returning the puppy to the family will help them cope with their loss.
“Parang naging emotional din po ako na syempre nawalan po sila ng member ng family,” she says of the experience. (I became emotional at the thought that they lost a family member.)
“Pero kakayanin nila yun kasi nandun naman po ‘yung mga immediate relatives nila, kaya makakaya nila yun,” she said. (But they will manage to get by with the help of their immediate relatives.)
The Ramoses have so far refused to grant any media interviews but they told ABS-CBN News Ulysses bought the dog on Tuesday morning as a surprise gift for his kids.
That afternoon, the entire family decided to dine out and get groceries together with the puppy when the fatal road accident occurred.
The Ramoses may have lost a family member, but for them, Conrad’s return means a lot. The puppy’s presence will serve as a constant reminder of a loving father and husband they once had.