I’m not focused on writing here. At least, not for the last few days. Instead, I’m distracted with the sudden illness of Penny, our 15-year-old Labrador Retriever. When she stopped eating last week, my wife and I feared she might suddenly spiral down like our other dog Casey did back in November.

Normally, Penny bounces in anticipation of mealtime. And that’s with two gimpy hind legs. There’s very little she won’t attempt to eat between meals either—even rocks. If dogs had religions, she’d be a devout Foodist.

So when she turned down her favorite treats, we rushed her to the hospital for as many tests as she could tolerate. Not just diagnostics that wouldn’t annoy her, but those that didn’t require anesthesia—we almost lost her the last time she went under a few years ago.

After X-rays and an ultrasound, her doctor still couldn’t find any explanation for the sudden loss of appetite. And her blood test results were remarkably good for a dog her age—no liver or kidney concerns.

Stumped, we decided to start a simple medication regimen which assumed a non-specific stomach and bowel irritation. It’s not like we could get an answer if we asked Penny what was wrong. She’s not a talker.

And then we waited. Sitting with her, petting her, making sure she knew we loved her. You can’t do a lot of typing when you’re constantly in a pen with your dog offering her food.

Much to our relief, Penny is eating again. With a case of the munchies so bad right now you might think it was from smoking reefer. That not being one of her meds, we believe it’s due to the Mirtazapine she was prescribed—a wonder drug. I still need to hand feed her kibble at times, but she’s enthusiastic about it.

So we’re hopeful. Our concern now is whether she can sustain this appetite once she’s off the meds.

After her fifteenth birthday, every day with Penny has been a gift. But it’s not selfish to want her with us still longer.