Monday, 12 May 2014

Animals in dementia

There are lots of stories these days about using animals in houses and care homes, and it was only after talking about this with my wife, that some memories came back about our pets at home.



When this illness was starting to kick in we had a cat and a dog, who got on quite well.


 At first the cat would come and either sit beside me on a seat, or would lie next to me on the bed when I was worried about what was happening. Sadly she passed away and was a great loss not just to the humans but also Ben our Labrador cross dog.


Ben had his own problems with his nerves and did not like loud noises, something that I was able to understand, when my own hearing became acute due to the Lewy body dementia.


But Ben would follow me closely when I was being diagnosed, and never let me out of his sight.

Although this was nice, it also drove me mad at times, because if I went to the bathroom, he would be sat out side the door when I came out.


When I was on my own at times I would lie of the couch downstairs so I could lie flat, and occasionally I would wake up to find him snuggled up along side me, then he would disappear as if he was embarrassed to be found there.


We wondered if it was to help me feel secure or whether he thought I needed support, or he was keeping me warm, something we will never know


He would do the same if I was extremely tired and went to lie on the bed for a rest, he would be there as soon as my eyes were closed.



When I had problems seeing things during the day like hallucinations, I knew it was just my brain because he could not see anything, so I felt safe. This helped me to cope in the early days.



Even if I was up during the night with my bad dreams and nightmares, he would get out of his bed and sit by my feet, until I went back to bed.



After the diagnosis it became apparent that something was wrong with him so we took him to the vets, where we were told that he was ill and they would need to do some tests.


 This was distressing for me as we had become so attached. We were then told that his liver had started to fail, and it would be better to put him out of his misery as he would have been struggling.



The odd thing was that after I had retired we had walked miles together and kept each other company, during the long days of the diagnosis, he was walking slower but always along side me.


After talking to the vet later she told me something which left me in tears, because it was so moving, and as she said was possibly very true.


That was that Ben had been ill for over two years but it had not been obvious to us, but once I had been diagnosed, he simply gave up the will to carry on.


In other words he knew I was ill and looked after me, until I was diagnosed and on medication, 

I had been in the medication for around 6 months and was starting to see things a bit clearer when he died.



I never got over this, as he had been a close companion for nearly a year during the diagnosis,  never letting me out of sight, unless my wife was around.


How can anyone say that animals are dumb and don't understand.


I cannot have another dog now because it would tear my apart now if anything happened.


Life would be different without our furry friends, bless them


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