Grieving dog refuses to leave 22-year-old owner’s grave during his funeral

James William Warner, 22, tragically died at the tender 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.”

Everyone loved Ace, and so did 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 fell to the ground. 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 as big as life and a great boy. He was so personable,” she added.

The suspect, a son to a judge, was arrested by police after an alert was issued in the area.

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.

A black and white dog lying atop his owners’s fresh grave

“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 at Tyson Foods. Warner grew-up helping to breed cattle and row crops.

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. Ace was a loyal companion and would not leave his side.

At the funeral, Ace didn’t leave the casket’s side. Warren was finally laid in his grave, and Ace refused to get up when he was. The dog seemed to be in grief, wanting to be close to his owner, even though he had passed away.

Christy stated that Ace went to school every day with Warner in high school, and waited in his truck.

“This dog is so special and Will was so proud of him,” she said.

She recalled that Warner was a child who loved four-wheelers and playing in the creek.


A family member claims that Ace was brought by Warner to church and all family functions. He would lay on the flatbeds until he saw him or call for him. It’s clear that the pair shared a special bond.

Warner must have loved Ace so much while he was alive that Ace was truly devastated by his death. This kind of loyalty can only be earned by a responsible owner.

Experts weigh in on whether dogs can grieve for their deceased human parents.

Mason, James brother, with the dog
Mason, James’ brother | Facebook

“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 a terrible incident that affected everyone. We hope for healing for Warner’s family and friends and, of course, his best friend Ace.