Very sadly, we’ve had to make the decision to euthanize our girl Ronja this evening.

Ronja had been battling cancer for most of 2013 and we did one big surgery this past spring to remove two large mast cell tumors; one from her shoulder and one from her chest; and decided along with out vet that due to her advanced age (she was born in December 2001), we were not going to do any more surgeries, daily pain killers, steroids, or other ongoing aggressive treatment. Instead, we opted to monitor and make whatever time she had left with us as much fun and as comfortable as possible.

I honestly believe that Ronja was waiting for Brian to come home from deployment to Afghanistan before letting us know that it was time for her to go. Shortly after her surgery, she started developing a small, new lump on her left elbow and small nodules started coming up in various places on her body. However, it wasn’t until the past week that tumors seemed to appear out of nowhere. The night before we left for the Vermont Iron Dog (last weekend – a week after Brian returned from deployment), we found two large lumps on her back leg. Today, the lump on her shoulder appeared to have doubled in size and seemed to cause her a fair deal of discomfort moving.

Ronja had a fantastic last week with Brian being back home, getting lots of snuggles on the couch, sleeping on the bed, and getting all sorts of no-no foods from his plate. She had a great weekend at the Green Mountain Iron Dog, camping out, meeting other dogs, doing the run, getting to bite the sleeve, and playing her favorite game, tetherball. But we knew that it was going to be time soon because she slowed considerably, she was having difficulty with the obstacles, and after playing tetherball for a short period of time, she just gave up and I had to carry her. When she wouldn’t play the keep away game on Monday night, I called the vet to inquire about details. I’m glad I was able to get them discussed and worked out before we actually had to make the appointment today.

Our vet clinic was wonderful about accommodating us for this visit. Although our vet, Dr. Kenyon, had left the clinic due to a family emergency, she did come in to perform the euthanasia for Ronja. We were able to spend a little bit of time playing outside in the sun, with Ronja barely interested in tugging (a game she loves), and then settled down on Ronja’s sleepy blanket in the grass outside. Dr. Kenyon sedated her so she would fall asleep (she snored!) and then euthanized Ronja, while I was holding and petting her, telling her she was a good girl and to go play. I’m sure there’s a bite sleeve and a tetherball set waiting for her.

We didn’t have her for very long, having gotten her in 2007, and we didn’t expect to have a very long time with her due to her age and prior injuries. In the time we did have her, she did a lot for other people. We visited with soldiers on base and would head out every Christmas Eve to deliver cookies and candies (and warm dog hugs) to all of the soldiers having to spend their holiday doing CQ duty. We also taught people about working dogs at reenactments and living history events, and were active in competing at local fun shows where we took ribbons in obedience, tricks, and even conformation. We did many hikes and runs, including a number of local 5Ks, and had all sorts of adventures. She even got to accompany me to work where everyone paid her attention, played with her, and loved on her when we weren’t out on ambulance calls.

She’ll be sorely missed. (Except maybe by the cats who didn’t like to share the bed.)


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  1. TSgt Kevin Spring, USAF Says:

    Wow, she’s gone? I remember when you first got her. I’ve been thinking about you and your dogs a lot lately, wondering what happened to you. You went from VA to NY and we moved from VA to Oregon. You used to be so active on certain forums, but then you fell away. I read them still, but reserve my posts for questions/research, and not general conversation, as I would rather be with my dogs than online talking about them. My tour in Air Force Recruiting is up this month, and we have orders to Mountain Home, Idaho where I’ll go back to fixing ejection seats again on warplanes. Can’t wait. Recruiting was NO JOKE. So glad to be done with it.

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