Our little old lady, now gone.
We were talking about Elsa; as in Elsa the moment that she arrived in our family. She was an amazing puppy. She popped out of her crate and introduced herself to everyone person and dog in the family. She ran around the place like she'd lived here her whole life. Elsa was a truly phenomenal; and as such she is what I measure puppies against now.
With our conversation about Elsa came some moments that got me to thinking. "Remember when she met Jessie?" I asked my hubby. It reminded of how bad Jessie's dementia was at that point in time. Each time she met Elsa she would react as if she'd never met her before. Jessie would startle at Elsa's approach; her hair would go up and she'd act like her typical terrier self. Jessie would stand on her toes trying to show Elsa that she was indeed the reigning Alpha bitch of the house; but it was short lived. Elsa would run off to see someone else and Jessie would just wander away.
Thinking back at Jessie's dementia; she clearly had long term memory but was lacking in the short term stuff. Elsa would come around the corner and face Jessie several days after she arrived and the first greeting would start again; at least for Jessie that is.
Jessie suffered from canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome along with the accompanying sundown syndrome. It happens to human Alzheimer patients and dogs as well. Jessie most definitely suffered from the affliction; but hers ran deep into the dead of night. It hit around the 2:00am hour and she would turn and turn and turn; walking in tight circles until the sun came up. It was horrible and because of this she had to sleep in her crate down in the dining room so that we could sleep while she walked her circles.
Several times we attempted to change things up for her; to give her a bit more space to move around. But it only made matters worse. One time we used an ex-pen on a tile floor down in the family room. We made her a makeshift kennel with her crate inside of it. When we woke up in the morning we awoke to a circle of poop. She'd pooped and then walked in circles through it the rest of the night. The clean up was awful.
The next time we left her the run of the kitchen. Thinking that she might enjoy being in there instead of just her crate. We put up the baby gate and left her crate inside; filled with blankets and the door open. Bad idea. Upon waking we discovered a track of poop once again. This time it covered a larger area and the clean up was even worse. Both times she'd poop with more space and she had never pooped in her crate; so for the remainder of Jessie's life she spent her nights in her crate.
Jessie was the first dog of ours that had ever suffered from Dementia. Like the human affliction; it is heartbreaking to deal with. The little Jessie that I once knew was gone most of the time but there were moments when she would come back to us. Those moments keep you going; the fleeting "there you are" times mixed amongst the lost ones.
Caring for old dogs is a gift that many never get to do. We were lucky to care for our lost little Jack Russell; and although it was not easy, it was my time to give back a little of what she'd given us in her almost 16 years together. I hope to never see dementia again; it is an awful thing to work through.