Doggie Dementia


When friends ask us how old our dog is, we jokingly refer to him as our first born.

Dusty adopted us in the spring of 1993, right around now, come to think of it. We were married in October and knew we wanted to expand our family just a little bit. I hadn’t had a dog since I was a pre-schooler. Dale had one growing up too, but not that we were settled in our own home, we decided to take on some responsibility. Just a little bit.

My office at the time was on the main floor of the house. In the winter, Dusty would spend his time under my desk. If he heard the approach of a snow plow on a stormy day, he would make a wild dash for the back door, race across the snow drifts and along the fence, barking as he chased the snowplow. I often wondered what he would do if he actually caught the plow.

During the summer, he would go outside when Dale left for work and spend the whole day lazing on the deck — early mornings in the sun, late morning in the shade by the cedars and hot afternoons under the deck in a custom dug hole in the dirt to keep him cool.

Things changed a bit when Olivia was born. Doesn’t it always for the dog? Remember Lady and the Tramp? They maintained a relationship of indifference unless food was involved, then Dusty became Olivia’s best friend. They’re pals, though. Same goes with Mark.

Since we’ve moved to Moncton, Dusty doesn’t spend much time outside anymore. Our yard isn’t as big. Snow plows aren’t as easily accessible. He’s not under my desk anymore because my office is in the basement and he finds the stairs hard on his back hips. He knows there’s safety down here during a thunder storm, though, or when the wind is blowing hard.

When we purchased a tent trailer last summer, Dusty rediscovered his love of the outside. On most camping trips, we had to pick him up and carry him inside at night. He was happy to spend the entire day outside, lazing in the sun, sitting in the shade, walking through the woods or at the beach or curled up by the campfire.

Over the last few weeks, Dusty has started having accidents in the house. It doesn’t happen every day, or even at the same time of day when it does happen. But it’s been increasing in frequency. I’ve tried preventative measures, like putting him out and making sure he stays out, but that doesn’t work — 10 minutes after he’s in, he’s done it again.

Yesterday, I called the vet just to see what they thought and whether I should bring him in for a check-up. The vet told me that Dusty may have some kind of a parasite in his digestive system or he may be seeking attention, especially if we’ve had a major change in our house lately. Yes, we renovated our kitchen, but this started before that mess. Nothing else out of the ordinary at all. Then, the vet suggested something so shocking that I’m finding it funny — Dusty may have Alheimer’s disease!

I had no idea there was such a thing as doggie dementia. One of the symptoms is failure to respond to his name — I thought he was just ignoring me! Other symptoms, like getting stuck in corners, is something I’ve seen Dusty do, but never realized exactly what it was he was doing. Accidents inside, even after he’s just gone out, is another symptom.

Here are a couple of links: Doggie Alzheimer’s Disease and CDS in dogs

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