Beloved Winchester ‘town dog’ passes away

Published 6:07 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022

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Winchester’s most famous four-legged resident died earlier this week.

His name was Romey, and his age was unknown. He knew no master but was loved by many, especially by his long-time caretakers, Heather Rose and Maria Cupp.

Romey loved bologna and lying on sunny hills. He knew more shortcuts around Winchester than any human. Oh, and he was no jaywalker; Romey always used the crosswalk when he trotted across the street.

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Which is where Rose found his body on Tuesday morning when she went to feed him.

“When I pulled onto Maple Expressway, I saw him on the corner, and he was laying on the sidewalk with his head on the curb,” Rose said.

Rumors of Romey’s demise surfaced online every so often. Many believed he perished after being run over by a car earlier this year.

Rose knew that “old fluffy butt” – as he was affectionately known online – had finally crossed over the rainbow bridge based on where she found him.

“He looked like he was sleeping, but I knew that he was dead because he never would have slept that close to the road,” she said.

An examination by the Clark County Animal Shelter did not reveal any external injuries, and the best guess is that the dog died of natural causes.

Rose and Cupp first encountered the dog in 2017 and were never quite sure of his exact origins. Their theory has always been that he lived on a local farm, and his owners moved away.

Regardless, Romey soon found himself with a regular feeding schedule and a Facebook group – co-founded by Cupp, Holly Lovings, and Rose – dedicated to tracking his whereabouts. An anonymous local veterinarian ensured the communal pup received his yearly medication for heartworms and other issues.

As his name implies, he roamed free but was well-taken care of.

Like many Winchester residents, Lovings mistakenly thought Romey was lost the first time she met him.

“My son and I ran in the rain trying to get him help, not knowing this was a feral dog that showed up in our backyard,” she said in a Facebook Messenger conversation with the Sun.

After she found out he was a feral dog – albeit a spoiled one – Lovings became a dedicated admirer and helped establish two local blessings boxes – a kind of free pantry for pet food and supplies – bearing Romey’s name and likeness.

As the years went on, the dog became a symbol for local animal humanitarian work.

“The blessing boxes and how the Romey group has helped raise money for the Clark County Animal Shelter and got his picture on a fundraiser shirt,” Lovings said about her favorite Romey memories.

The group bearing his name also often helps pets reunite with their owners or find a forever home.

Sometimes Romey’s call to the wild conflicted with his taste for the good life.

Rose said her favorite memory was a recent one where she went to feed him, and the dog came prancing up with a groundhog in his mouth.

“All I could do was groan, ‘Romey,'” she said.

And yes, Romey dropped his snack in favor of human grub. Whether he double-dipped with freshly caught game is undetermined.

Fittingly, the dog’s remains will be cremated and given to Rose and Cupp. There are plans for a future service in his honor and a fund in his name to help animals at the shelter. Donations to the Romey boxes are also encouraged.

To see more photos of the “town dog” and read cherished memories, turn to page B1. of tomorrow’s print edition of the Sun. To learn more about the community that cared for Romey, find his Facebook page, Romey the Town Dog.