If you care for an elderly, injured or special needs pet, you've come to the right place!
We rescued Jake about 5 years ago from the local humane society. We really wanted a medium sized dog but Jake was the only dog who has been proven to be cat friendly. According the humane society he is an australian shepherd/st bernard mix weighing at a hefty 90lb. He had been returned twice, once when he was about 2 and again when he was 6. Jake is quite the loner. He lived with another dog outdoors most of his life before us. He never did quite show an interest to humans and does not know how to play. First day we got him, we placed him in a room so we can get the cats get used to his scent. He howled bloody murder as soon as I closed the door. Jake had separation anxiety, non destructive but he would howl and pace every time I leave the room. We crate trained him and he got used to it and stopped howling too much but he was still pacing at night. We kept his crate open at night in our bedroom. I have found him staring into space and corners, go back to his crate, turned around, walked out and repeat. Didn't think much of it and thought he was just being goofy. We took him places, the beach, dog park, walks and he was showing signs of bonding. He got excited over "walk" and "park" and would get up when he hears his treat bag rustling. We really thought that Jake would get a lot better and be the dog that he meant to be. At around age 8 (he is 11 going 12), we discovered that he was going deaf. Wasn't long before he was completely deaf. About a year later, we picked him up from boarding and he ran right straight into our parked car. He was going blind and now is completely blind. We moved his bed downstairs, he is deathly afraid of stairs (ran and fell down the stairs once and took me with him since I didn't want to let go of the leash thinking I could still hang on to a 100lb dog with my 125lb frame haha) and since then have not been able to take him out on walks. We have pretty steep staircase to go down to the street. He is not able to map out the living room still. Sometimes gets stuck under the dining table. Now he is having difficulty locating his food bowl. You can place his favorite treat next to him and he will have difficulty finding it. I don't think he can smell us anymore. He would whine and howl with us sitting near him. He wasn't really a social dog or ever been too excited over humans but it is hard to see him spending his days like this. We are both ridden with guilt seeing him this way. He goes potty outside regularly and have been pretty good at that. We have a fenced deck that goes to a small patch of yard and we installed a baby gate at the opening so he won't fall down the stairs. Jake sleeps all day and howls in the early morning and paces around the house, knocking things down even when we had not moved the furniture. He is slow to get up and some days you can tell his hips/legs are achy. He has a really ravenous appetite and won't stop eating if you let him go at it. I am at a loss right now. How do I know when it is time to let go... or do I soldier on. The fact that I am thinking about this makes me feel so selfish and just evil. I am thinking of getting an on call home vet to give Jake a quality of life assessment soon. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks.
Well, it's hard to tell considering he is deaf and blind, but with his age it sounds like canine cognitive dysfunction disorder, which is kind of like doggie Alzheimer's...or I would think so except maybe not because his housetraining is still good, I don't know. There is a medication that works for some dogs but not all dogs, and it's kind of expensive. It's called Anipryl.
Have you tried scent marking his feeding area with something really strong? Or perhaps several key spots, each with a different scent?
I don't know what to tell you, my dog became senile (or as the vet put it, "ga-ga") during his last months, it was difficult to deal with, he barked a lot, too. In his case, it was partly due to kidney trouble that was leaving toxins in the blood, which the vet said were affecting the brain.
Thanks for the reply.. I really appreciate it. I read about doggie dementia and the medication too.. Will talk to the vet about it and also the cost of medication. I've had friends told me that it is time to let go as Jake has been spending 22-23 hours a day sleeping and laying down, he probably is ready for eternal sleep. I don't know. I keep looking for any spark of hope and light in his eyes day after day.
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