Nikon retired with honors at the end of June. Karen and Keely were looking forward to sharing the rest of Nikon's life with him as a civilian. Lazy days and relaxation was what he deserved and they were going to see that he enjoyed every moment. On the morning of July 28, just barely a month into retirement, he started throwing up. X-rays revealed an object in his stomach and the hope was that it would move down naturally. The following morning he became lethargic and another x-ray revealed a hernia and a lot of fluid. The veterinarian performed emergency surgery and it seemed a success when Nikon's heart stopped. Despite thirty minutes of valiant efforts by the veterinary medical team, Nikon didn't make it. For Karen, the world stopped and Keely, herself devastated, could not console her. Tears flowed, shamelessly, from everyone. Nikon was gone.
Keely never stopped admiring how Karen and Nikon worked together, so bonded, but her favorite memory is when a little girl named Ellie befriended Nikon. There was an instantaneous connection between this small human and mighty dog. Shortly after Ellie's family moved two hours away Keely and Karen received a call from her mother. Ellie was having nightmares that a bad person was breaking into their house because she no longer had Nikon nearby to protect her. Keely sent Ellie a stuffed police shepherd with a letter signed by Nikon's actual paw print. The box got lost in transit and no one could find it. When Keely called Ellie's mom to tell her about Nikon, she confirmed the box still hadn't arrived. Ten minutes after they hung up, a photo of Ellie holding the stuffed animal and note popped up on Keely's Facebook page. The package had finally arrived. Nikon remains victorious, even from Dog Heaven.