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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Youthful Exuberance -VS- CCD

In my last Mother Earth News blog I commented that I would not be boring readers with repetitive photo's of our dogs and that I would post updates on our personal blog site. So that is what I am doing this morning. To those readers in the US, Canada and Norway, Russia, Croatia, Newfoundland, Iceland and a host of other countries, here is an update on two of our family member dogs.

Youthful Exuberance: The photo below is of Echo our newest addition to our family. Echo is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 years old depending on who makes the age guess. Regardless, he is full of youthful exuberance. He will suddenly get a burst of excitement and jump around and do a circle or two with barks just to release that energy. This is the stage of development that alarms some people and they decide that the dog they loved as a puppy has something wrong with it or is out of control and they surrender it to a shelter or turn it loose.
The simple fact is this is a phase in a young dog's life and these sudden bursts of energy come on them and they race through the house as if they are out of control.

Cesar Milan the dog whisperer would say they need more exercise and maybe they do but they will exhaust that energy themselves and settle right back down. To them everything is play excitement and frequent energy bursts. Bozwell simply ignores these in Mr. Echo and if Echo gets to rough he lets him know about it and things calm down. Bozwell being the mature guy that he is, understands this behavior and mostly ignores it unless Echo gets to far out of hand. If Echo starts to get to rough either Carol or I will step in and correct matters which is simple using a distraction - like the bean bag toss. As you can see in the photo below, Echo, is ready for mischief and he had just returned from a long walk.

Now at the other end of the spectrum is Gypsy, age 14.5 years old. In human years that would put her at around 90. Gypsy has what many dogs have over 10 years old, that is CCD. (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction) That is similar to Alzheimer's in humans. She is a true geriatric girl who needs special consideration. Her hearing is diminished, she has cataract's on her eyes, and she also has CCD. She is frequently confused, distant or lost. She get the trembles or shakes even when laying down sleeping - which she does a lot of. She paces and wanders aimlessly at times. She will stare at walls or into space. She seeks less attention now than she used to. Sometimes she is more withdrawn. She has incontinence which is treated with medication. We used to think she had mini strokes but it is more and more apparent that she has CCD.

So while she often now prefers to stay home when we go on walks, some days are really good ones for her and she trucks right along with the other dogs. We usually let her decide on how much activity she wants. We make her life comfortable to accommodate her senior years. There is no cure for CCD and medication only helps a few dogs and not all dogs. At times it can be frustrating when she forgets her leash training, feeding routine or potty habits. She has more than earned the right to some slack in her life to make her senior years more comfortable. We also know one day she will no longer have a quality of life in spite of our efforts. But for now we will cut her as much slack as we can and the other dogs are aware of her failings and are very attentive to her.

So we have one dog at each end of the pole; different qualities of life. One totally enthusiastic over life itself and full of excitement and one slowly withdrawing from a full and happy life. I wonder, as she lays there sleeping, if she is dreaming of the time she jumped from the deck onto the back of a bear. I don't know who was more scared - me or the bear. I can only hope that her dreams are happy dreams...... And then I look at Echo who has had his experiences before he was rescued and still has ahead of him lots of happy memories. One light shining bright, one light getting dimmer. Life goes on but sometimes not without painful loss.


Barbara J. Galasso said...

What a lovely story about your dogs Bruce. How did you introduce Echo to the rest of your pack? I'm surprised that they accepted him especially that you have another male. I can see the "devil in his eye" in the picture that you posted of him. Your "oldster" breaks my heart because we all know that feeling when they are this age. It's the part of dog ownership that I dislike the most. Such big hearts taken from us all too soon!

Bruce said...

Barbara: We had confidence that our pack would accept him. I knew our pack and I knew Echo. I didn't have any doubts and thought maybe an incident or two but they never surfaced. They sensed our willingness and we did it in two stages. Connie brought Echo by our camp site and they all got to meet successfully one at a time. Bozwell had his nose a little out of joint but was his old self when Connie left with Echo. The following Saturday I brought him back to the camper to stay. They had already met once, and the second time went okay in our small camper. They were all aloof for a while but Echo quickly won them over just like he did Carol and myself.. Two weeks later he and Bozwell are fast friends, and the girls have no problem with him. They all get along fine. The reason I wrote the post today was because they have no problem with his wanting to play and exuberance. It is us humans who don't understand it that well. He will outgrow this stage soon and we will then wish he were back pulling his antics again.
With Gypsy you are right when you say it is the part of pet parenting we don't like. There is just no way to prepare yourself for that horrible time. In fact I think all the past pets that have gone on ahead add to each one that follows and make it that much harder. You are never ready even though you may think you are.

Raylene said...

So beautifully expressed!

Working as a RN in a gorgeous,over the top hospital in Pebble Beach California, I "went" to a wedding with a patient. She was old and had what I called "Old Timers Disease". Her room over looked a beautiful patio which pt's could access in wheel chair or even bed. As I cared for her, she was enjoying a "wedding" in the Rose Garden--one that my vision couldn't "envision". Enough of being on the outside looking in---I began to describe the beautiful hats I "saw" as well as the elegant "dresses". I am not sure who enjoyed that "wedding" more nor do I care--I had been around long enough to know I could not convince her there was no wedding and I had no personal need to "bring her back to reality" ...what a grand time we ladies had at that of my favorite memories of what has been a grand experience nursing....the second oldest profession!!

Bruce said...

Raylene: I was going to post a similar topic on nursing homes but I will do it later. It was very similar to your story and our experience when my mom was in a home. It is so vital that you don't try to change folks who have those problems but just go along - especially if you want to enjoy yourself. Thanks for telling that story.

Deirdre said...

Made me cry. Our Muffin passed away several years ago now -- was in a condition similar to Gypsy, or maybe exactly the same condition. I expect to see her in heaven.

Paula Jo said...


"Not the least hard thing to bear when
they go from us, these quiet friends,
is that they carry away with them so
many years of our lives. Yet, if they
find warmth therein, who would
begrudge them those years that they
have so guarded?
And whatever they take,
be sure they have deserved."

--- John Galsworthy ---

Bruce said...

How true and thank you Paula.....