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Ringwood Cancer Survivor Shares Special Bond With Pet

Meghan Haarmann of Ringwood with her dog, Tonka.
Meghan Haarmann of Ringwood with her dog, Tonka. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Meghan Haarmann

RINGWOOD, N.J. — A dog became more than just man's best friend for Ringwood cancer survivor Meghan Haarmann.

Haarmann's dog, Tonka, served as inspiration for her and a constant companion. She and her pet both persevered through physical ailments, never leaving each other's side.

When it came time to help Tonka again when he needed a specialized wheelchair, the community pulled together to raise enough money for it.

The recent donations helped keep Haarman and her longtime partner together.

Doctors diagnosed Haarmann with breast cancer about seven years ago. Around the same time, Tonka, a rottweiler mix, was hurt in an accident that left him with a paralyzed leg and shattered shoulder.

In the years since, both adapted to the cards they were dealt.

"it really is intertwined, our journeys and surviving," Haarmann said. ""I really felt we became a team in not just surviving, but feeling blessed. You just recognize the gratitude in what you still have and I think he's responsible for that."

Haarmann, 40, underwent a mastectomy after her diagnosis. She's doing well now, as she said she's in remission and plans to stay there.

Tonka suffers from arthritis these days. On Wednesday, though, he'll be fitted with his new wheelchair that will help support him, Haarmann said.

"He's just an inspiration," she said. "I felt like if he can go through what he's gone through and is still wagging his tail, what's my problem? He's lost two legs practically and he's doing OK."

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