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Fans emotionally react to this new picture shared by Rory Feek Instagram/@roryandjoey

There’s no question that when Joey+Rory’s Joey Martin Feek lost her courageous battle with cancer in 2016, family, friends, fans and the entire country music community were shaken to their core. But there was someone else affected by this tragic passing. Joey’s pup, Ranger.

Joey got Ranger after she lost her precious and noble dog, Rufus, whom husband Rory Feek called “a true family member.” Ranger became part of the family and farm when he was just a cute, lovable, fluffy and clumsy pup, and several years before his human sister, Indiana, joined the family in 2014.

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So it makes sense that the beautiful fur baby would be missing his owner as much as her husband, daughter Indiana, stepdaughters Hopie and Heidi and the rest of the family do. But in a poignant new photo, we can see that Rory isn’t the only one that makes daily vigils to Joey’s gravesite on the family’s farm in rural Tennessee.

Rory captions the photo, “… just a boy missing a girl today.”

…just a boy missing a girl today.

A post shared by Rory Feek (@roryfeek) on

The tender picture strikes a chord with the broken hearts of the couple’s fans, who responded in kind with their own messages of heartbreak and sympathy. One Instagram user, @luvmommyhood, sadly wrote, “Put a lump right in my throat. 💗 Beautiful,” while @sadiemaecottage shared her sympathy, saying, “I’m so sorry … I know you miss your beautiful wife and BFF so much. Her beauty and light still shines! 💔 💕”

Another fan, @smittythree, offered some hopeful insight, writing, “Prayers for you, Rory. Joey left behind an undying love in your heart and a never-ending legacy in Indy,” and @reclaimyourselfretreat remembered her pet’s own grief. She wrote, “My dog grieved and lost lots of weight after my husband died … It’s heartbreaking for both animals and humans …💔”

Actually, Ranger often accompanies Rory to visit Joey under the big tree on their property, and the pair share a bit of quiet time together.

…someone misses you today. Happy Mother's Day my love.

A post shared by Rory Feek (@roryfeek) on

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Ranger, a shepherd mix, was Joey’s constant companion, often traveling with the couple when they toured across the U.S.

Joey here during intermission w Ranger…

A post shared by Rory Feek (@roryfeek) on

He appeared to know his place by Joey’s side … or her lap …

A post shared by Rory Feek (@roryfeek) on

And the pair shared an obvious bond.

Pure joy.

A post shared by Rory Feek (@roryfeek) on

Ranger may have taken a moment longer to make that connection with Indiana … for obvious reasons.

But now, he is most definitely as loyal … as a dog.

Our hearts still ache for the tremendous loss felt by Rory, Indiana, Heidi, Hopie and, most definitely, Ranger. We lost Joey almost two years ago. Joey was just 40 years old when she succumbed to cervical cancer shortly after Indiana’s second birthday.

…couldn’t pick just one.

A post shared by Rory Feek (@roryfeek) on

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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