He stopped and stared ahead and when I called to him he just stared at me. He usually skips along happily when I call, but not so much lately. Sometimes he just stands in place till I pick him up. He seems ok with me picking him up, but does not relax. It’s like I am a stranger to him. He has always been afraid of storms, but we had a wicked storm yesterday and he didn’t seem to mind. Usually he would be panting and shaking. He simply went round and round on the big pillow where he sleeps and when it was how he wanted it, he plopped down and went to sleep.
Sebastian has been our little pup for 12 of his 14 years. We inherited him from our son when their first child came along. I’ll save that story for another day. He has been a loveable, obedient sidekick to my husband and saw him through many bouts with depression. Now, I think, it’s our turn to help Sebastian.
I went on the internet to see if dogs have Alzheimer’s Disease. What I discovered is that they have something similar to Alzheimer’s called canine cognitive dysfunction. This is my first experience with having an animal live with me in the house so I have never had this situation before. As Sebastian aged, I began to consider what could happen to him physically, but never once had I considered he may have trouble with his mental status. This realization is only about a week old and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. Having him stare at a wall or into space in the yard and not know which way to turn is heartbreaking. This is a dog who ran with gusto his whole life, savoring the smell of every pee mail along the paths we’d travel, jumping up after every insect that would fly by and barking excitedly when another creature would scurry across the path in front of him. Here is a dog who would push his head under your hand a hundred times, if necessary, to get you to pet him, and who would bow low if your voice let him know he had displeased you in any way. Now there are periods of time when he is completely withdrawn.
I have a friend who wrote about Alzheimer’s Disease in humans for her doctorate in nursing. She entitled her dissertation “Becoming Strangers”. I know how to become a dog’s companion, but I do not know how to become when I am more and more a stranger to him. I think I am about to begin a new journey. If anyone has traveled this path already and could give me some pointers, I would welcome your comments.
God be with you and yours, Dear Friends,