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Penny: My Biggest Supporter In This MS Fight

As a long time sufferer of multiple sclerosis, I have an assortment of items that aid me in my daily battles. These range from my trusty cane to fight falls, my notepad app to help with memory loss, my cooling vest for fighting the heat, to even an assortment of Mega Bloks that I use to keep my hands and brain working together better. However, there is perhaps no aid more important to me than my trusty sidekick, Penny, an eight-year-old smooth red Dachshund that joins me in my constant fight against MS. Together, we’re a dynamic duo out to show multiple sclerosis that it won’t stop us from living a great and fulfilling life!


Letting go of my larger dogs

Before I get to Penny, I must say that I have two other dogs, Murdock and Dexter. They’re both considerably larger and require a lot of walks and room to roam. I now live in a place without a fenced in yard, and with my walking and fatigue issues, I am no longer able to keep them with me. They now live with my parents (and their three dogs) and have a massive fenced in yard that they just love. Letting them go live with their grandparents was the best thing for them but one of the hardest moments of my life and really something I felt MS stole from me. I still visit them whenever I can, though.

A perfect fit

Not long after my pups moved in with my parents, a family friend mentioned she had an older, smaller dog that she had to give up. My parents took her in as well, but after meeting her and giving it some thought, I said, “Let me try taking her”. A small Dachshund, with tiny legs and a big heart, that didn’t require the amount of activity and daily work that my larger boys required seemed like a perfect fit. I took her in as a trial, and it’s now been a year and a half. I couldn’t imagine life without her!

Service dogs and MS

Service dogs are amazing animals and do a tremendous amount of good for people suffering from a wide range of problems. People don’t always think of multiple sclerosis as being one of those diseases that a service dog can help, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, more and more MS patients are turning to specially trained service dogs to aid them. Balance dogs in particular are very helpful in aiding patients stay upright, get up from chairs, and even informing their owner that he/she is getting tired and letting them know they need to rest.

A solution to loneliness

Though not a trained service dog, Penny has still been extremely helpful to me. Being on disability means I spend some long stretches home alone (well, at least until she arrived). Having her companionship throughout the day has made what was fast becoming an unbearable life into one that is now filled with happiness. I know it will seem crazy to some people. How can a dog make things so much better? Well, if you think it’s crazy, just try it out. MS can be filled with many times of loneliness; having a dog around can really help with that.


Bringing life some structure

Caring for Penny has also helped bring my life some needed structure and motivation. I have some bad days, some days I’m in awful pain, some I’m super fatigued. At those times, it seems easier to just stay in bed all day. Having to get up, take her outside and then feed her is great motivation to get out of bed and give life a try. It’s a lot harder to wallow in your own discomfort if you have someone else depending on you. Having that is exceptionally important to someone in my condition. Even on really rough days, when I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything, I remember that I’ve helped take care of her. I’ve done something, I’ve contributed to something. That’s super important when you’ve lost your ability to work.

Keeping depression at bay

Penny has had experience with her previous owner being sick, and from what I hear, she was just as valuable to them. She can tell when I’m having a bad day, sometimes even before I realize it. There is a marked difference in her demeanor and how she acts when things aren’t going right for me. As she did with her previous owner, when I’m having a rough day and just can’t get out of bed, she’ll happily come in and snuggle next to me or even just sit next to me and watch over me. She will also come and stand by my side when I fall. That’s an incredibly comforting and helpful act for me. It’s very easy to get discouraged and upset when MS takes a swipe at you and the love and reassurance she provides by just being there for me is incredible. Depression is a massive problem for those suffering from MS, and though I still have some bad days now and then, she really does a lot to help me keep that at bay.

Lending me encouragement

While it may not seem like much, having this little dog around has dramatically changed my life for the better. When I look at my life battling MS without her, I can’t help but wonder how I did it. If my fight against MS were a boxing match, she’d be my cornerman, lending me encouragement throughout the fight. Penny is most definitely the Mickey to my Rocky and together we’re beating multiple sclerosis one round at a time!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Penny
    3 years ago

    I know exactly what you mean!!! I no longer drive and spend most of my time alone. I have 2 cats I adore but 2 years ago I adopted a 10 year old Weimerainer from a young man in the military. He’s such an amazing dog…so smart and such a loving guy. Makes it so much better!!
    So happy for you…nothing better than someone who loves you unconditionally and asks for nothing in return but your unconditional love back!! ❤️

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 years ago

    Thank you! Glad to hear it! Pets are just so so awesome!

  • Tess
    4 years ago

    I completely empathize. I would be lost without my Emotional Support Animals. They give me purpose and love.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 years ago

    I don’t know how anyone gets by without at least one 🙂

  • Catgirl66
    4 years ago

    Penny is such a wonderful name for your girl! EXACTLY her color! So glad you got her

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thank you! She really is pretty great!

  • potter
    4 years ago

    Our elderly dog passed about the same time I was diagnosed with MS. My husband insisted we get another dog for me about two weeks later. Even though I wasn’t ready yet I agreed. Oskie is a great companion and smart, does everything I ask and stays with me constantly. If he hears anything unusual he’ll check it out and come get me if he thinks it’s something that I need to look at. Last night he let me know the timer was beeping on the oven. He also keeps me more active, I try to go outside and play ball with him on nice days. Denice

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 years ago

    Leann, she sounds great! Hopefully registering her as an assistance dog will help when it comes time to find a new home. As a dog guy, I always hate to hear people being denied because of the size of the dog. I know it may not be practical but I do wish people would look at them on a case to case basis.

  • Leann Henshaw
    4 years ago

    We have a mid-sized dog, a blue heeler, and she sticks with me like lint. She is my protector when I fall, my companion when I need to rest, and my buddy when I want to go out for some fresh air. We wanted to move into a mobile home park, but we were denied approval because of her size: she is 15″ tall, and weighs 30 lb. I don’t see how her size should affect the park management, given that you aren’t allowed to even walk dogs on park property! As a result of not being approved for residency, we lost options on a beautiful little home.
    Now, I have gone to the expense and hassle of registering her as an assistance dog with the ADA. As soon as another home comes on the market, we’ll try again, armed with this new certification. Fingers crossed!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    4 years ago

    It really is amazing how helpful they can be! Oskie sounds like a great companion!

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