A Dog’s Love in a World of MS

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

Share this article:

Share article via email
neuropathy, positivity, husband, laughter, connecting, i am fine, self-care and MS, finding myself

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.

Jenn and Abby at Laguna Beach. (Courtesy of Jennifer Powell)

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.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Marie avatar


Jennifer,I can relate to what you have written.
My dogs have been so special to me and my husband. We had four rottweilers (siblings) and they "took care of me"! I remember when they were younger and I could still walk - we were heading to the back yard. I heard four very rambunctious young dogs hurtling toward the door and knew there was the potential for 300 plus pounds of dog to collide into the back of my legs, which would have resulted in a true "dogpile" with one human included!I called out "watch mommy's legs" and they immediately came to a stop! I miss them so much! They were indeed my special buddies. If they heard me calling for my husband, they would make sure he was coming!I will never forget them!
We have two rescued dogs now, a 10-year-old pit bull, Ozzy, and a young, maybe 1-1/2-year-old little mutt, Wilbur, my husband found almost dead in the 115 degree desert heat last August. They are best buds and are learning to "help mommy." The support their presence provides is invaluable to me!

Loralyn Conover avatar

Loralyn Conover

WOW What a beautiful article! It was really well written and inspiring! It made me feel good just to read it. BEAUTIFUL!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.

MS Podcast
MS sidelined his dreams of playing pro football, so Tyler called an audible! Listen in as Jenn chats with Tyler Campbell, son of Football Hall of Fame legend Earl Campbell.

Listen here.

Dancing Doodle

Did you know some of the news and columns on Multiple Sclerosis News Today are recorded and available for listening on SoundCloud? These audio news stories give our readers an alternative option for accessing information important for them.

Listen Here