Canine cognitive disorder

Dementia - it is a horrible disease both for humans and dogs alike.  Having never had a dog with dementia until Jessie I am constantly saddened by what behaviors unfold from this disease.  Many people think that all old dogs go a little crazy but if you have never met a dog that has true dementia you will not understand the depth of it.  Around last Christmas it hit us; several months before Jessie had been exhibiting some strange behaviors that I could not explain and then the night pacing began.

Once the night pacing began it was clear that something was going on.  Steadily, a myriad of strange behaviors were added on a weekly basis.  So here we are some ten months later and I hate the disease even more.  Most of the time my once robust little Jack Russell is lost in a land of confusion or simply sleeping.  Of course the sleeping is a natural thing at 15.5 years old but how much of it due to this horrible disease?  Once up in the morning she wanders aimlessly; when her ritual of going out and receiving her treat is over she then roams the house.

She has favorite regular spots where I can almost rely on now.  She likes the big bed we have tucked into a nook down in the family room.  I like when she lays there; I walk by it all day and can check on her.  Every so often I hear the dog door; she goes out and in often with no purpose.  She is beginning now to have accidents in the house; something that had been a very rare occurance if for some reason the dog door had been closed.  Just yesterday I watched as she went out the dog door, back in the dog door and then out again and peed at the bottom of the outside steps.  At least it was outside, albeit a very strange place to go.

Jessie is still fired up by the idea of meal time; it has always been her favorite time of day, much like recess for children in school.  Mid morning and late afternoon her pacing begins; she knows that at some point this is when she eats.  It is also a time that I need to assure that she gets out; in her pacing she tends to forget to go out to relieve herself and has often gone wherever she happens to be pacing.  I hate this disease.

Being that this is the first of our dogs that has been hit by this horrible disease it is a learning experience for us all.  We take each day one at a time and watch for signs of new strange behaviors.  This morning is one of those mornings; Jessie has been walking in tight left circles more than normal.  She is having a difficult time settling; it is tough to watch.  I will often place her on a bed, laying her down so that she can rest.  Funny sometimes it is all that is needed and she will finally settle and rest her head.

Jessie now wears a collar and tags for fear that she would at some point get out.   It takes but a step out the door for her to be lost; she has no sense of where she is nor that she needs to go home.  I have tested her often, placing her in the driveway or front yard to see where she goes.  She simply gazes around not knowing what step to take, which direction to head.

What goes on in her head?  Anything?  It is a horrible disease; watching your dog slip away before you yet there they stand.  It reasons that with each dog comes new challenges; the more dogs you live with the more obstacles you will face.  Life is a learning curve; I just hate this one.