Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Pete man and dog were constant companions, in life and now in death

ST. PETERSBURG -- For more than a decade, Gerald Rittinger's dog kept him alive.

The Air Force veteran died on Dec. 3 at age 77. He is survived by his wife, Jeanne, who said she would have lost him 14 years earlier if not for their yellow Labrador, Zeke.

Zeke wasn't a therapy dog. He knew few tricks, and wouldn't even fetch. But every time his owner went into distress from diabetes, or had a stroke, Zeke noticed and went for help.

Years ago, Gerald described how Zeke had a way "of looking at you, like he knows something." He estimated that Zeke had saved his life at least 30 times.

Read the original story

Over the last few months of 2014, Zeke slowly deteriorated. Just before Christmas that year, he had to be put down. He went peacefully in their living room. His portrait still smiles from the wall above where his bed used to be.

Without Zeke, Jeanne had to bring in a live-in caretaker to help her husband, who held on for another three years.

Gerald will be buried in St. Stephen Cemetery in Ft. Thomas, Ky., on Dec. 20.

The remains of his beloved best friend will be buried with him. And Jeanne is having Zeke's name etched into the headstone.

Contact Lane DeGregory at ldegregory@tampabay.com. Follow @LaneDeGregory.

St. Pete man and dog were constant companions, in life and now in death 12/18/17 [Last modified: Monday, December 18, 2017 9:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2018 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

    Elections

    CLEARWATER — By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows he's now considered part of the old-guard.

  2. Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

    Elections

    CLEARWATER — Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.

  3. Inside American Stage's plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG

    An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated the set of A Raisin in the Sun, opening Jan. 26 at American …

  4. After half a century, World Liquors sign may finally come down

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The demise of the distinctive sign has been rumored many times.

  5. Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today

    Real Estate

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.