My first babies.

I got Miles in December of 2003 after a particularly hard few months. I had dealt with an unplanned pregnancy, a horrible miscarriage, and moving away to college. I had been pregnant long enough to get into a weird mode of needing to grow up so the first few months of college I struggled to find a balance. Everyone I knew there was partying like crazy and I just wasn’t that in to it. I was in a serious relationship. I longed for the baby I wasn’t ready for.

So then there was Miles. Miles was a savior. He was the first dog I had had in a long time. He went everywhere with me. I was able to get those momma feelings out.

I moved home for the summer and got a text from the boyfriend not to be mad. For the life of me, after the year we had together, could not anticipate what would come next. A text of a water logged strange looking dog in our bathtub. So then there was Penny.

I packed up Miles and we rushed back the next day to meet her. He was still little and very impressionable. Penny growled at him for about 3 days straight. We brought her back to my parents house. They were still an interesting pair. By the time I had returned home for the fall semester, I came home from class and found them snuggling together on a chair. They have been inseparable since.

Penny had clearly been mistreated. When we got her spayed the vet said her uterus was so large that he anticipated she had multiple litters and was either used for breeding or had been left outside. He estimated that she was between 5 and 7 years old.

That relationship eventually ended but the dogs stayed with me. And he became one of my best friends.

8 years later we are still a team. And they are getting older.

We had a really bad health scare with Miles earlier this year in which I was cautioned that whatever was going on was likely fatal. Antibiotics and TLC and he is back to normal. Penny has always been the more energetic of the two despite being years older than Miles.

Until now. Something is just not right with my poor girl. She is disoriented, her balance is terrible and she’s wanting to lay. It started earlier this week when I went out to bring her inside and couldn’t find her. I found her in Miles’ favorite spot under the deck. She lifted her head and wagged her tail so I assumed she just didn’t want to give up brother’s prime real estate. That night she fell down the stairs of the deck but within minutes was fine. I observed her steps for a few days and concluded it was likely arthritis.

And then yesterday happened. I ran in from work to grab my cell phone that I had forgotten. Penny could barely move. I had already called their vet’s office to pick up shot records so I called back and said Penny was coming too. When we got there I was met at the door. Two puppies were inside that had been diagnosed with distemper and despite Penny having been vaccinated because of her age they did not want her inside. The vet came out, we went over symptoms and a quick check up – we had a diagnosis.

Vestibular disease. Not to worry, not uncommon in seniors, give her Benadryl and in a few days she will be fine.

Benadryl seemed to work like a champ last night. Her ears were perky and she was willing to go outside. She hasn’t lost the desire to eat or drink and is able to stand without assistance so I’m thankful. I’ve read a lot of posts about dogs not able to even get on their feet. Our vet described it as a “sick, drunk” feeling. I’ve been there. My poor girl. This morning when I went to get them to let them outside, she was laying in the corner – head facing the wall. Miles jumped up and ran outside. Penny never moved. I approached her slowly with a sinking feeling that the vet was wrong and she had died. She turned her head, eyes darting and thumped her tail once. I helped her to her feet and carried her to the couch. A little boiled chicken and Benadryl for breakfast it is.

I have tried to mentally prepare myself that one day Miles and Penny will die. And I’ve prayed that I will be strong enough to do the right thing and let them go peacefully without any suffering. Just the thought of it breaks my heart.

They have been with me through the good, the bad, and the terrible. They were here for my first human baby and accepted her as one of their own. They’ve accepted step-dad Sam and love him. I used to promise them when we lived in an apartment that they would some day have a house and their own yard. They’ve now had a few.

She’s still cuddled up next to me on the couch. Resting peacefully. I suspect she didn’t sleep much last night and must have focused on the wall to stop the spinning. The Benadryl must have worn off quicker than I expected.

I’ve done my research. I’m hopeful this is just a passing thing. But I’m scared it’s the beginning of the downhill slope for my girl.

And the one thing I know for sure is that I’m not ready to lose her.

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