2024 Paws of Honor Update: K9 Ronnie

Nick and his retired Military Working Dog (MWD), Ronni are a pair not to miss out on getting to know!

Ronnie is a 12-year-old Dutch Shepherd who was trained in Patrol and Explosive Detection. Ronni served the United States Army in various deployments and missions for explosive detection, apprehension, and locating individuals, including assignments with the Secret Service and Homeland Security. Nick, Ronni's handler for three and a half years, recounts the special bond formed through training and reliance on each other's safety during missions. Despite losing his left eye during training, Ronni remains active, enjoying walks, playtime, and attention. He has developed arthritis, mild hip dysplasia, and blindness in his remaining eye, but still insists on being by Nick's side, reflecting their enduring partnership. 

Big Barker was lucky enough to meet Ronni and Nick in 2023, and now again in 2024, as we asked them several questions to see how Ronni is doing a year later! 

What would you like to say to your dog if he or she was a human being?

Ronni, You are a stubborn pain in my side. Because of that we became an incredible Team. You have taught me so much, not just being a handler but as a person. You have always kept me safe as well as countless others. You are the reason for my success while we were both Active in the Military. You were always there for me during the highs and especially the lows. Together we were unstoppable. But now in your later/retirement years you are relying on me, more than I on you. I will always have your back, support, protect, love and care for you. Your job was as my protector, now that is my job, and I will not let you down. I will be your sword, shield, and voice to protect you. I love you more than you could imagine. You will always be my DUDE.

What is the one thing you would change about your dog if you could?

Well, Ronni is completely blind, with nerve, hip and back disorders. If there was one thing, I could change about him would have to be that he was younger. That way I could have more time with him.

How many weeks, months or years did it take for your dog to get used to civilian life?

For Ronni adjusting to civilian life was difficult for him due to him retiring because of the loss of his left eye. So, it was confusing to go from working hard because he loved the job and being too stubborn to quit. He retired from the Military while I was deployed. While I was gone, I had a fellow handler looking after him. That handler would tell me stories of him clearing his house and staying attached to him at the hip as if he would me. Always wanting to work and look after the handler caring for him. So, you can say he took a while to fully adjust because when I came home, he was doing the same things with me. I would say he fully acclimated to retirement after the removal of his second eye. It left him with no option but to slow down. To fully adjust it took about a year and a half to two years.

What did your dog do for you that no human could have done?

He does a lot for me that no human could do. It is unconditional love. Be it I chastise or reward him. Whether I am strong, confident and happy or weak, vulnerable and sad, he is always therewith understanding love without question.

How has your dog improved your quality of life?

My life has improved just being around him. He is always there for myself and my wife. You can talk to him about anything. I swear you can tell that he wants to talk back and respond to what he just heard. He just loves you which is best.

How long has your dog had their Big Barker bed and what noticeable changes have you felt they have experienced since sleeping on their Big Barker bed? 

RMWD Ronni has had his Big Barker Bed for about three years now. When he first received his bed, it took a while for him to get used to it. After the acclimation period you could see Ronni loved it. He was able to fully relax and rest while on it. Something, he was not able to accomplish on other beds. But as getting older, unstable, and harder to function with being blind; he shied away from the bed because it is higher off the ground then normal beds.

Now his brother, also a Retired Military Working Dog enjoys it. RMWD Miko / W446 has completely fallen in love with the Big Barker bed. He also suffers from Back, hip and nerve issues. He used to struggle some getting around. After he takes a nap on the Big Barker bed, he jumps off like a firecracker. He acts like a three-year-old pup. It has truly made a difference in his quality of life.