In March of 2012, Navy Hospital Corpsman Eric Ralston left for an eight-month deployment. A month after he left, Kermie, their 11-year-old dog, was diagnosed with oral melanoma (cancer.) Kermie had developed some bad breath, and it was discovered that the source of the odor was from an infection below a tooth that was impacted by the tumor. It was not the news they were expecting to hear following what they believed to be a routine cleaning.

Kermie, a Beagle/Chow/Lab mix, was given a poor prognosis with only two to three months to live. The Ralstons were devastated. Jennifer Ralston posted the background story on YouTube explaining, “Kermie was our first child, and we did not think Eric would ever get to see her again.”

Still, Kermie soldiered on, living months past the vet’s estimate for survival. They cautiously began to have a glimmer of hope that one last reunion might be possible as the end of the deployment was on the horizon. November was nearing as the scheduled homecoming month, but it was becoming increasingly difficult for Kermie to eat and drink.

“We truly did not know if she would make it until Eric returned,” Jennifer recounted. “The boys and I were doing everything we could to ensure she took her medication and kept her weight up. I was making her home-cooked meals and, at times, hand-feeding her.”

Twelve days before Eric was due home, the Ralstons received crushing news– the deployment was being extended indefinitely. Jennifer didn’t see any way that Kermie could survive through Christmas. Yet the little 40-pound girl held on!

A Christmas Miracle

A few days before Christmas, after nine long months, the Ralstons were blessed with the best gift they could have hoped for…

The Magic of the Moment, Extended

The Ralstons fully expected they would have to have Kermie put to sleep within days of the homecoming, due to her suffering, but the soldier’s return proved to be a therapeutic boost to her health. She began eating and drinking again without the previous struggle. Indeed, when watching the video, one wouldn’t have guessed the difficulties they’d faced during the previous months.

Kermie blessed the Ralstons with another good month and marked her 12th birthday in January, but she began to decline again in February. They were back to hand feeding her.

“She still enjoyed doing her tricks, walks, and rides, but the tumor was making her miserable in between. When good days became good hours, and we knew it was time.”

Kermie the Dog – January 28, 2001 – February 22, 2013

The Dog Files thanks the Ralstons for sharing their story and for their continued service to our country!