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MS, me and Juke makes three

MS-UK's Big Purple Dog Walk fundraiser is in full swing, with thousands and pounds raised so far. One of our fundraisers Zoe, shares how Juke her seven-month-old crossbreed has changed her life and her relationship with multiple sclerosis (MS). 

Getting a dog has always been part of my life plan. Being diagnosed with MS was not. I received the diagnosis in 2018 and like everyone with MS, the journey has not been a smooth one. In the last two years I’ve walked 10km for a charity walk and I’ve been unable to get out of bed; I’ve experienced extreme joy and I have also suffered from deep depression. My MS experience has never felt stable, every morning I would wake up not knowing what my life would look like. Zoe Deal - Juke.jpg

Lockdown has not been kind on my mobility. I spent the first two months of lockdown shielding in my second floor flat and unsurprisingly, it was extremely difficult to motivate myself to do any exercise. I had a mat and did some stretching and pilates, but nothing that really got me moving. When I was finally given the go ahead to go outside for some exercise, I would experience extreme pain while walking. At times the pain was so intense I became scared of going out on my own in case I passed out from the pain or was simply unable to get home. So I stayed inside, or only went out with my partner or while on the phone with my mum. In October 2020, my partner and I moved into our new house which opened the door for the only missing piece from my life, a dog.

Our wonderful seven-month old crossbreed, Juke also had a tumultuous start in life. He is a rescue dog from Romania who was found in a bag with his littermates after being thrown in a river. He was taken in by some kind-hearted people and looked after until he was old enough to travel to the UK.

We bonded from the moment he was placed in my arms, it truly felt like we came to each other at the right place and time. He trusted me implicitly from the beginning and I have made it my mission to give him the best life possible. Dogs need to be walked. This is a basic requirement that needs to be met. So, we walk. We walk every day no matter the weather and no matter how I’m feeling. And I can do it because I’m doing it for him. We may do a six mile walk round a country estate, or we might do a 10-minute walk round my estate, but we always walk. Zoe Deal and Juke together.jpg

Juke and I are taking part in the Big Purple Dog Walk partly to raise money for this amazing charity, but also to see how much we can achieve together. We are loving finding new places to walk this month and can’t wait to see where the rest of the month takes us. 

I always knew that having a dog would change my life for the better, but I had no idea how much having Juke would enrich my life. He gives me the confidence to go out and walk around my new home, no matter how slowly we might have to go at times. He’s always happy to go out, which rubs off on me and instead of fearing the pain that might happen, I find myself looking forward to the joy that will happen.

When I wake up in the morning now, I still don’t know what my life looks like. My MS experience is still unpredictable and difficult, but as long as I have Juke in my life, I know everything will be okay.