When veterinarians told Jennifer Ralston her dog Kermie was dying of terminal oral cancer in March 2012, Jennifer was heartbroken. Not only would she have to say goodbye to her 11-year-old friend — she wondered if her husband would get the chance to do the same.
Jennifer’s husband Eric Ralston, a chief hospital corpsman for the U.S. Navy, was deployed abroad and would not return for 8 more months. The way the veterinarians were talking about Kermie’s prognosis, it seemed she would not be able to last 2 months, much less a whole 8 months until her sailor owner was able to return. Jennifer knew how upset Eric would be if he wasn’t there for Kermie in her final days.
“We were devastated to say the least,” Jennifer said in a post on YouTube. “Kermie was our first child, and we did not think Eric would ever get to see her again.”
As the months went by, Jennifer and her sons diligently cared for Kermie, making sure she was well-fed and comfortable.
“The boys and I were doing everything we could to ensure she took her medication and kept her weight up,” Jennifer explained. “I was making her home-cooked meals, and at times, hand-feeding her.”
As Eric’s deployment began to wind down, and the date of his return grew closer and closer, the Ralston family became hopeful that Kermie would be able to hold on until Eric made it back home.
November had been a challenging month for Kermie, however; a tumor in her mouth made it difficult for the strong-willed dog to eat or drink. Then, only 12 days before his deployment was set to end, Eric received word that his service abroad was to be extended — indefinitely.
“I just knew Kermie would not make it until Christmas,” Jennifer wrote.
That’s when the Ralstons received the news they’d been waiting for — Eric would return home in time for the Christmas holiday. The family was overjoyed, but would Kermie be there to greet Eric when he arrived home?
“We thought we would be putting Kermie down within days of [Eric’s] return,” Jennifer explained.
In turned out Kermie had other plans. As Eric Ralston finally made his way up the driveway to his home and family, Kermie bounded towards him and jumped into his open arms. Kermie had defied all odds and all expectations, just so she could see her beloved owner one last time.
“It was all any of us wanted for Christmas,” Jennifer remembered.
Jennifer made sure to have the cameras rolling to capture Eric and Kermie’s bittersweet reunion. The resulting video has taken the Internet by storm, going viral after it was posted on YouTube last week.
The Ralston family was amazed when Kermie’s health seemed to improve after Eric came home.
“His return was some sort of magic pill for her,” Jennifer wrote. “She began eating and drinking again, without struggle!”
“Watching the homecoming video, you cannot even see the struggles of the previous months,” she added.
Amazingly, Kermie lived long enough to celebrate her twelfth birthday in January. By February, the tumor had grown, and the cancer she’d been battling for nearly a year caught up with her.
“When good days became good hours, we knew it was time,” wrote Jennifer.
The Ralstons said their final goodbyes to Kermie February 22. Navy serviceman Eric, for whom Kermie had waited to see all those long months, was by his dog’s side.