I will try not sound like a babbling, blubbering fool as I fall apart typing these words. I can’t even breathe. My Rona is gone. I am on my knees in a search for answers.
Do dogs have breaking points similar to humans? I write this tragic story with the intent to potentially save another dog in a similar circumstance or a dog who has related behaviors.
I don’t have answers, but I will make my best attempt to share what I know.
Rona leapt to her death from our 16th floor balcony on Aug 27, 2015. The saddest day of my life.
“Rona would never do that!” I kept screaming over and over as it just didn’t make sense. Nothing made sense! I got the call while traveling and my husband was at work. She was alone. My poor angel girl was all alone during her final moments but there was definitely more to the story.
I couldn’t stop screaming. I was quite sure the police would be at my doorstep thinking someone was being murdered. It wasn’t far from the truth as I was quite sure I was dying.
Rona’s life needs to be documented, honored, and celebrated. Everyone thinks their dog is special, and honestly, everyone is right. Dogs are more centered and balanced than most human beings. They live in the moment and remind you to do the same. You become their nucleus and that is all they know. Their only mission in life is to please you. Period.
Rona was a ray of sunshine that warmed everyone’s heart as she wiggled up to you to say hello. She loved everybody. Especially kids.
Her journey is not your typical dog’s journey. Not all dogs get to move to Hawaii.
Please allow me to relive some of her best moments as I grieve heavily and piece memories and details together.
I adopted Rona on Sept 1, 2009, from the Tampa Bay Humane Society. Even though I rescued her, I was quite certain Rona saved me.
I adopted Rona from the Tampa Bay Humane Society on September 1, 2009. She was 3 months old and had 5 other siblings.
Sit & Stay, Tampa FL
I have trained dogs most of my life, but Rona had such a keen awareness that it became my mission to be the best trainer/owner for her.
A year after adopting Rona, she completed her Canine Good Citizens Certification and began service dog (SAR) training immediately after. I met some incredible people, she loved it, and it brought my knowledge of dog (handling) to a whole new level. We trained together. We did everything together. And we loved every minute.
After moving to Hawaii, I wanted to do something different for her because she loved people so much. I mean, she loved people. My next project was getting Rona Therapy Dog Certified. If you are interested in the certification for your dog, I recommend using Therapy Dogs International (TDI). It’s an amazing way to give back to your community. Rona & I volunteered at retirement homes, mental health facilities, schools, and hospitals. This is when I knew she was a true angel.
Rona and I continued to explore new things in Hawaii. We got into agility. She loved hiking and going to the beach. She would sit in the back of my kayak as I paddled around the gorgeous waters. She was remarkable.
Lanikai Beach, Hawaii
Rona passed her Canine Good Citizens Test. Sept 21, 2010
Therapy Session at Kailua Elementary School
Crouching Lion hike
Annual Hawaii kai Dog Walk
Hanauma Bay with Scott
Hanauma Bay. My family.
One of our last mornings together.
Rona had one flaw. She had separation anxiety.
Let me say that her anxiety was minimal. She would never destroy, defecate, bark, or howl. She would just pant. She didn’t pant every time I left the house, only sometimes. I took measures to calm that excitement. But obviously not enough.
I have had a home office since 2011. I have traveled more in those earlier years and most recently I almost never left the house. If I did, Rona came with me. We were always together.
The morning of this last trip I hugged, cuddled and whispered in Rona’s ear. “Take good care of Scott while I’m gone. I will be back.”
I told her that she was such a good girl. I’ve gone on trips before so I didn’t think twice.
When it was time for me to leave for the airport, Rona looked at me one last time before I closed the door. Our eyes locked. She was calm.
Rona gets exercise every day with me when I am not traveling. Scott would spend at least an hour a day before and after his work schedule to care for her during my absence.
It wasn’t enough.
The horrific accounts that took place on August 27th still feels like something out of a movie. It doesn’t seem real. Only it was. No one could have expected what happened, but it happened.
Rona snapped. She was on a mission to get out of the condo. She destroyed a dog toy. She chewed the door stop at the front door. She chewed my pineapple plant on our big lanai, she chewed through accent lights on our other lanai in an effort to escape. To find me. To find Scott. To just get out. She succeeded.
My angel girl leapt from our 16th story balcony with 5 ft high railings. Only, she really didn’t have wings. My Rona died upon impact.
I cannot bear the pain, yet I know I must. I must be strong for Rona. As I bend over to pick up the pieces from my broken heart, more pieces fall out. I don’t know when I will be whole again, if ever. I can only share the story of her beautiful life in an effort to inform others that separation anxiety is real and can come up quick with any sudden changes in your schedule. Separation anxiety in this instance was fatal.
In closing, I do not believe that dogs intentially commit suicide. I don’t believe Rona intended to jump to her fate, but I certainly believe that separation anxiety is unpredictable.
If your dog shows any signs of separation anxiety symptoms, no matter how small, take measures for their safety.
Please share this story with anyone who has a dog.
My service right now is to help others and have hope that somehow, some way, my greatest loss will make a difference for someone else, and possibly save a life.
North shore of Oahu.
Early days of bonding.
Pill Box Hike Kailua.
First swim in Hawaii
National Dog Day 2015. Rona’s last run in the park.
After a good hike.
Backyard, Honolulu, Hawaii
She loved hiking.
Pill Box Hike, Lanikai, Hawaii
She was my angel.