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Hi all,

My purpose in joining PF was the search for a standard poodle service dog, but the reason behind that choice of breed is a magnificent creature named Jazzy. She's a 14-year-old toy poodle who turns 15 in March. Purebred and I believe quite well-bred (her breeder has a minimal online presence in terms of a breeding page or website, but is a member of the parent club in good standing based on listings, has several dogs on BetterBred, has bred some dogs with solid placements I can find over years with searching, and has been excellent to us and produced a wonderful dog who is everything we could have dreamed and more-- and released her to us because her snout was too short despite being her pick otherwise, and she was thus not to be added to the breeding program or shown). Jazzy is perfect to me in every way and her breeder produced this perfection, so all my respect.

Jazzy has had some problems over the years. Her back has developed problems (arthritis) for years and we've been dealing with her severe recurring pancreatitis for...a decade? It's well controlled for the most part but as anyone who's dealt with a bad recurring pancreatitis diagnosis in their pup can probably attest, there are rare flareups seemingly for no reason and she's carefully monitored and cared for. Our vet saved her life with a surgery on her gallbladder a few years back and we've been on borrowed time ever since simply because she was so very close to dying before a diagnostician was brought in and the surgery brought her back.

With all of that background, my Jazzy is the light of my life. She was my best friend and still is. She's my heart dog. I can and often do talk for days about her and her countless incredible qualities, but all I can think of right now is her wonderful, brilliant mind and how it might be fading. I don't live with my parents any more and haven't for several years, but I live about an hour away and my dad told me today when visiting that he and my mom think Jazzy has canine cognitive dysfunction (well, he said "doggie dementia" or something, but google and I had a date and came to CCD being a real and sad and very frighteningly fitting match to her changes, some over years and some months and some weeks). Jazzy's housetraining was easy and has been excellent, but going downhill with her age and more so recently. My dad told me he took her out, she did everything, asked to come inside and was brought back inside, and then wandered into the (human) bathroom and pooped, looking uncomfortable. She stares with utter bewilderment beyond her slowly fading eyesight at walls and corners and doors now apparently and tried to walk through a fence she's literally never tried to (it's less than a yard long and simply stops you from stepping a few inches off the little front porch doorstep thing to the fenced front yard on the side; even as a wiggly puppy she never went through that and apparently tried, was clearly confused, and needed help figuring out to walk less than a foot to the door the way she's been getting inside for her whole life). She's getting more and more needy, though part of that is obviously age and confusion and when applicable discomfort (we're actively working with the vet on her having as little pain as possible). She's become intermittently and oddly uncoordinated, falling, having difficulty-- my folks are going to "puppy proof" the house again, gates at top and bottom of stairs and pillows lining theside of the bed and dog stairs so any falls and/or disorientation have lessened chance of injury. Jazzy would be utterly miserable not sleeping in bed, so it'll be pillows on the floor like a little moat at night.

The vet agreed it's quite likely when he saw her less than a week ago and my mom asked; they've brought her in so much for her back, her pancreatitis, etc. that everything has been tested and monitored constantly for years. She's checked for every possible worry at this age because we just love her and want her to be happy and comfortable as long as possible and it's one of the great joys in all of our lives that she likes playing "paws" (pounce, one poodle vs one hand) on the bed in the morning. She still does that.

This is a poorly written post, and I apologize, but I guess I'm reaching out for what experiences others have. We're committed to enrichment for her now more than ever and I've spoken with my dogsitter already about her availability because we also all agree that as her favorite playmate for over a decade, I'm a solid enrichment activity and visits are even more important. My folks are, as I said, going to puppy proof the house for our geriatric dog and she's under active treatment of excellent veterinarians. I'm just trying to process a more tangible understanding of Jazzy one day being gone, I suppose, and anyone's more personal experience of this disease than the internet has provided.

tl;dr - almost 15yo toy poodle is thought to have Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. She's already fragile. I'm a mess after about 12 hours of trying to process this news about my first heart dog.
 

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I'm so sorry. I know it is heartbreaking. My two family dogs experienced some cognitive decline toward the end. One was severe and one less so. Both were rescues so not from good breeders. The first was a border collie and she always had a thunder phobia. As she aged this became severe to the point that even normal rain would send her into a panic of destruction. She started really getting horrible dementia during her last year. She would not sleep at night and would just walk in circles around the house, occasionally stopping and trying to destroy random things. My mother barely slept for about a year because she had to stay up with her. She did not want to go with euthanasia even though it was actually harmful to her own health.

The second was a chihuahua that became extremely paranoid about noises. As he aged he could not stand the sound of running water and the sound of the dishwasher would send him into fits of trembling. Also the sound of my mother's phone. Strange things.

I have only sympathy. Just try to enjoy and appreciate who she still is, because it can always get worse. Aging dogs are very hard for us humans.
 

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My heart hurts for you and Jazzy. I went through it with my beloved Gracie and it wasn't easy. It felt, in many ways, like a long goodbye.

But I consider myself very lucky because we had a good year together from the first obvious symptoms. (There'd probably been earlier, more subtle signs, which I didn't notice or just brushed off.)

I'm not sure if it helped, but we had her on Anipryl from autum to spring of her last year. Sometimes I kick myself for taking her off it, wondering if that contributed to her final, dramatic decline. I did notice a reduction in her symptoms while she was taking it, but so minor, I wasn't sure if it was a fluke.

A regression in potty training is actually quite normal in our dogs' senior years, something I wasn't prepared for but will be now. A return to basics can help. Just don't make the mistake I did and treat Jazzy too late for her to make the connection. Gracie must have thought I was throwing her "welcome home" parties every time she came back inside. :) The treat must be given immediately upon pottying, which means accompanying her outdoors. (Not a bad thing to do, regardless, when your dog is experiencing memory loss and confusion.)

An extremely consistent routine was comforting to Gracie. I'd see familiar glimmers of confidence when she could predict what was coming next.

And I limited her outings to mostly "sniff fests," such as a ride in the car with her nose to the window, or an hour spent on a blanket at the beach in mild weather. Nothing too overwhelming.

These photos from our unexpectedly last park day are some of my most cherished. ❤ Reach out any time if you have questions or just need an ear.

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I have a 18 year old chihuahua, he has doggie dementia or as we call it "old man syndrome". He cannot see in low light, so we must have a light on when he eats. For awhile we thought he was giving up eating which he does periodically. He barks for his meal there are times its right in front of him yet he sits there and barks. I have to remind him its right there. There are times though not often that he is incontinent, whether sleeping or not. Its not consistent though. He also will just sit and bark incessantly for an hour, even though he has eaten and gone out. I think he just forgets and needs some extra attention. He also will periodically lose his balance , he has few teeth left and those he does have a bad but he cannot go under anesthesia to have them cleaned but he will chew on hard kibble. I had begun to soften it for him but he prefers to gnaw o n it. A few days ago I told him to go to his bed, and he missed his crate door and walked right into it then jumped into a cat litter box. Boy was he surprised! He is just an old boy, he doesn't get free run of the entire house and hasn't in awhile due to fragile bone discs in his back, we have had to supervise him for years so that he doesn't jump up onto furniture. So always supervised or he goes to his room where his crate and bed are. Sometimes I feel guilty he is in his room but at this point with other dogs in the house he is safe from injury and for the most part he sleeps a lot now. I know one morning when I go to let him out he will be gone and I honestly hope that when his time comes he goes peacefully in his sleep. And I should add other than his bones and teeth he is a healthy ol guy all his life despite that he got all his vaccinations, flea and heart worm control his entire life. He also ate a variety of dog kibble over the years. In his younger years he was active and a snuggly bed partner. Good luck with your girl, it sounds to be like you all are doing great things to keep her safe and comfortable in her late years. WE should all be so lucky to have someone to care for us when we get to where we need it.
 

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I want to thank you all for the thoughtful replies and apologize for taking so long to come back to this. I read and appreciated all of you and kept getting choked up trying to come back.

Jazzy was officially diagnosed (no doubt in our wonderful vet's mind, she fits it to a T sadly) within a day or so of this post. She's mentally and physically changing at an alarming rate for a dog who was fragile before the worst of this became apparent. We do all know we've been living in the bonus features for Jazzy's life since she survived a gallbladder surgery a few years ago and she's just so fragile.

Jazzy trembles almost constantly. It's different from her pain shaking (my folks are highly attuned to her and can easily distinguish to appropriately give her as needed meds if her back hurts, which is very comforting to me; she's never left to suffer). The neurological issues are just causing it and some odd motion as she walks, along with the many other issues and confusion she has. Poor thing. She doesn't go for walks any more for her own sake and goes in the front yard and has for the first time in her life started using pee pads (figured iy out in a day, even fading she's a quick learner) because she's having so much trouble physically and mentally. She's having some incontinence and my parents just clean her gently and have waterproof blankets over thw furniture and lots of good enzymatic cleaners.

Jazzy has always been a picky and finicky eater who will request variety and also self regulate. She's now much pickier and often not eating, so with the vet's blessing she's moved from a careful prescription diet to home cooked junk. She's going to die fairly soon to be blunt and there's not enough time left that a full nutritionally balanced diet is a real concern. She gets extemely lean meat (to not aggravate her pancreatitis, fat content is the first concern) cooked thoroughly with dog safe spices that are good for digestion and minced/mushed with noodles (her favorite is ditalini, also chopped tiny) freshly cooked. She perks up at specifically the noodle boxes being opened and it's hilarious. She's also had couscous and stew version of her prescription dog food.

She doesn't remember to drink sometimes and she gets the forbidden treat to tempt her like I did when she was younger and sick: drinking out of the little paper Dixie cups, wetting fingers and reminding her to lick them and then splash at the cup and tilt it for her, etc. She also has a medication adjustment (her gabapentin) that's helped her sleep through the night more again, though some nights she's pacing a lot like last night.

There are night lights everywhere for Jazzy and she's getting special treatment in other aspects of life to make yhings easier too. Our truly wonderful groomer was the first person we needed help from: Jazzy needed grooming and my dad talked to Michelle and asked for help. Jazzy got a shorter cut to make her easier to keep clean and it was done with the usual incredible care (I am so grateful for the people like her and the vet) and booked with extra time for Jazzy and no waiting, she was the first appointment and picked up immediately. She gets baths in the sink at home as needed and my dad has gotten good at sort of massaging her back in a way she loves and she's come to really enjoy a warm "bath" on her back.

This is all really an unnecessarily long almost diary of Jazzy's last weeks. I've arranged my work schedule so that I'll be going home for ay least 24 hours every weekend until she's gone. Last weekend was the last of my commitments from before her diagnosis preventing visits. The weekend after her diagnosis I did go home and we were all a little surprised by a few instances of recognition from Jazzy. She ran to me while my parents stared with mouths open as she hadn't run in a while and I scooped her up. I held her for hours, rubbed her back and felt her melt into my hands, wrapped her in blankets and her beloved heating pad on my lap, and cried a lot when she wasn't with me because the reality hit in a lot of ways. She continues to love my big boxer mix, oddly. Sleeps on/against her and makes a point of being with her. She definitely likes the warmth of the big dog, but there's also a surprising and sweet level of friendship enduring through Jazzy's dementia.

Thank you all for your kindness and for letting me share this. I'd like to end with some bittersweet news, in light of losing my first best friend so soon: my application for a working candidate to finish privately and program training from APAW was accepted a few days after the diagnosis and I am on the waitlist for my future standard poodle SDiT. I always had hoped to have Jazzy and the standard poodle overlap, but if Jazzy were human I know she would want me to be excited for this huge development in my life. I'm trying to be, but for now I'm cherishing every moment of her life. There isn't much left.
 

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There can be few dogs - or humans - who receive such knowledgable and loving care in their twilight time. I hope there is some comfort in knowing that your parents are doing everything possible to keep her relaxed and happy, even when you cannot be with her yourself.

Thinking of you all.
 
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Just simply beautiful. You all have true riches in each other. My heart is with you and Jazzy.
 
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Jazzy is a beautiful girl. I am so very sorry you are going through this.

I lost my very first dog due to changes in her cognitive function. I have always felt some sadness because I missed the majority of her last 2 years due to being away away at school, but she was with my loving parents. I saw her at Christmas and she was fine, but between December and May something changed, and then she wasn't. She had to cross the rainbow bridge 2 days after I graduated. I remember having another dog to love helped me heal.

The love that you are pouring out now to your Jazzy means the world to her. Cherish her until it is her time to cross the bridge, and know that yes, she will be fine with you also sharing that love with another dog in the future.

Prayers for you and your girl.
 
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