A Dog’s Love in a World of MS
I am staring at my golden retriever, Abby, as she sleeps on the lawn, the afternoon sun dancing through her fur. Lying so still, she is encapsulated in a golden glow. I glance at her chest and am reassured by its rhythmic rise and fall. Abby is 10, and I am acutely aware of impending reality, but today is not that day.
Abby rescued me in the fall of 2012. The organization I volunteer with found her. At 3, she weighed a scant 43 pounds, was covered with fleas, and had to be shaved due to mange. What she lacked in physical health she made up for in spirit.
My heart ached as I watched her play with our late dog Lucy’s toys. We had to put Lucy down due to cancer only two weeks earlier. I smiled through tears as Abby curled up next to my husband, Mike. She was home.
It has been a journey, with Abby learning to trust and me learning to navigate progressive MS. But the day’s trials evaporate with the setting sun, and every sunrise is a new opportunity. In the mornings, Abby greets me with her helicopter tail, which accelerates at the sound of my voice. She is patient as I acclimate to the day. But her eyes encourage me to move. Her spirit inspires me to try. And so, I do.
Seven years have held seven lives. So much has transpired that I can barely recall life before her. We have sojourned together through much of my MS and all of its progression. Abby has been a conduit to so much abundance in my life. I have met and become good friends with many mutual dog enthusiasts. We have volunteered at countless rescue events and hosted half a dozen foster pups.
Abby has blessed me with a strength and passion I vow never to discard. She has inspired me to be the best version of myself. She has shown me that love transforms. She has taught me to be kind to myself, even when my MS is not. So, when others ask me how I can continue to love and lose, I leave them with this.
When the time comes, I will do for Abby the only thing she can’t do for herself — I will let her go. I will be there to comfort her, just as she has done for me. I will grieve her loss yet celebrate her life. I will honor her legacy by welcoming another pup into my heart. I will live her essence by believing that I can change the world.
Just as Abby has changed mine.
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