While we have referred to Henry's brain and cognitive issues as Doggy Alzheimer's, there is no officially recognized Canine Alzheimer's disease (at least that we know about). However, we have been researching cognitive disorders in dogs as we are starting to notice more and more oddities in Henry's cognitive behaviors. For some time, Henry has been suffering from sundowners. By definition, sundowning is a syndrome in Alzheimer's patients of recurring confusion and increased agitation in the late afternoon or early evening. A sundowner is one who sundowns.
Henry expresses his sundowning by the nightly routine of pacing, needing to go outside to potty (or pretend to potty), wandering and "staring" at walls. He started doing this around the time he lost his siblings, lost his vision, had cancer and then his day of seizures. We can't peg exactly when it started, but it did start slow and got progressively worse. However, we made accommodations that helped him improve a lot in some areas. Even though he still sundowns, he is not as bad now as he was in the beginning.
In our research, we have discovered an acronym that helps owners recognize cognitive issues with their dog. The acronym is DISH.
D: Disorientation. Getting stuck behind furniture, trying to get out wrong side of a door or appearing confused.
I: Interactions as in altered social interactions. Dog appears out of it, doesn't respond as well to commands.
S: Sleep disturbances. Increased sleep during the day and decreased sleep at night. Pacing, unexplained restlessness, especially in the evening or at night.
H: House soiling
For us, it is hard to confirm these elements where Henry is concerned. This is mainly due to Henry's blindness. Henry gets stuck behind doors and furniture all the time. How do we determine what is caused by blindness vs cognitive disorder? For social interactions, what is to say he is not responding to commands from stubborness, dull hearing or dementia? He has separated from us in the sense that Henry could literally have been pet for HOURS and now we are lucky to get 5 minutes of cuddling at a clip until he becomes fidgety and antsy to escape the love. The study indicated that like Alzheimer's in humans, the canine version can leave the dog not knowing or recognizing his pack (dogs or humans). When this is the case, the dog can then become aggressive since he/she feels as if he/she is surrounded by strangers. That is probably the scariest aspect that we have "to look forward to" should Henry live long enough to get to that point.
As for the house soiling. We can knock on wood for that one! So far, so good. He is still diligent about going outside. Should Henry lose this function due cognitive or medical means we will manage, but we will know that he did all he could to do his business outdoors. He is a master in the potty department. He has always outshined his brother Ben in that area!
To see in print that we are not alone in this and seeing that there is research behind it feels so validating. I am sad for the other dogs and dog owners, but I think that there is a huge world out there that doesn't believe any of this and thinks that we are crazy.
Our research has turned up a few different medications and herbal remedies that have been shown to help. But it is so tricky with Henry and his multiple conditions. For example, one treatment is in a oil based form. Well, the oil version is not good for his IBD and poor protein absorption. Another medication has had good results, but is only effective for up to 6 months then it stops working. That seems good but then we wonder after the 6 months does the dog just revert all the way back to what he would have been without the meds? That must be a shock to the dog and the people.
We will do some more research and talk to our general vet and try to contact his Neurologist. Our neurologist has a really strong understanding of side effects of certain meds and interactions with other meds. We want to be sure to give Henry the best he's got left. And we know first hand how degenerative Alzheimer's is in people. It would be tough to watch Henry go through each phase of the disease. For now, we will continue to study up and consult and see if there is something better than what we are doing. We just try to keep him on his routine, keep him calm and give him the things we know make him happy (especially car rides!)
Have any of you experienced this type of scenario in your dog? Seen doggy dementia? Have any advice? Here are the links for further reading:
On our nightly rounds of exercise for Henry's body and mind, we ran across some folks who recognized him! It was an unusual event for sure. We were driving to City Center and on our way there we saw a young couple walking 2 dogs. They were pedestrians trying to cross the street that leads to City Center, one of our favorite parks. We noticed the duo with dogs more specifically since we thought that at least one of the dogs was a pug. Keeping with the flow of traffic we did not have time to stare and study the dogs across the street. So, we went on our way. We parked at the far side of the park and started to walk Henry. He plodded along in his slow moseying way. And it was not long before we saw the same 2 people with the 2 quick walking dogs coming our way. They had made phenomenal time! (Oh days of young, fast paced pugs!) Assuming they were just pug curious, like we are, we thought they were just coming to say hi to a random pug. When suddenly the young lady shouts, "Is that Henry?!" We were taken back and stammered that this was indeed Henry. (Wondering how do you know him?!) She explained that she'd "been following the blog for years" and one day noticed that the photos were taken at City Center. She turned to her partner and told him, "See! I told you one day I would see him!"
After our initial shock of having randomly met someone who reads the blog, we managed to put a few sentences together and learned about their dogs. One was Alex K Waffles, a rescue pug they recently acquired. Monkey, the other dog was a pug boxer mix. Both dogs were adorable, and so healthy! They seemed younger than "middle age" (5-7 years) and were in such excellent shape. Alex had an adorable pug tongue lag that just gives him an instantly "silly and happy" look to him and he was bouncy and fun so that added to his adorableness.
We walked away regretting not having taken a photo with them with Henry. Fortunately, those ultra fit pups lapped us and we got another photo opportunity and this time we took advantage of it. It was so nice to meet someone who knew Henry. Although it was a totally weird feeling to have him be "known" without us knowing who knows him. But I guess that is how all the super stars feel! Hahahahaha!!! Henry is a super star to us, though. So, anyway....it was nice meeting you Monkey and Alex and their peeps! See you again some day at the City Center.
This Ask OBP question comes from Christie! Christie asked if we put the TV on for our pugs, specifically Animal Planet.
The answer is not a simple yes or no. It is, however, a no AND a sort of yes! When we had a full house, the pugs were crated when we were not home and we did not leave a nearby TV on as that would have lead them to believe that someone was home. If we were home, they were out of the crate. So, definitely no TV in the early years. It wasn't until the pack was gone and the leader of that pack, Henry, was the lone wolf standing when he expressed the need to no longer be crated. So, Henry is not crated and has free roam of the house. Since this is the case now, we do leave the TV on (but never to Animal Planet). We want Henry to feel like someone is home since someone being home makes him feel better. So, if we can trick him into thinking someone is home, then that helps him.
I will say, though, that watching Animal Planet did sometimes get a rise out of Baby Benny. He was the only one, though, who ever noticed that the TV had images. He could see the TV and hear when pups barked. He would occasionally "lunge" and "puff" at the television. It was a kind of a bouncing, half bark. It was quite hysterical, actually. I guess he felt threatened to have all these "invaders" enter our living room. And perhaps he was protecting us. Silly pug.
One time Benny even barked at his own kind on the television. The video above is from a news report featuring Central Florida Pug Rescue. And Ben was barking at the poor foster pugs looking for their forever home!
I will clarify, however, that while that was cute to us, it is not dream dog behavior. And we often say that if the pugs were big dogs, some of their behavior would not be cute or even acceptable. I'll use Aunt Laurie's dog as an example in this one. Aunt Laurie has a Rottweiler. And when Lulu, the female Rottie, "lunges" and "puffs" at the TV it is literally terrifying to me. To Aunt Laurie not so much. But when a 20 pound dog charges at something "aggressively" it can totally be brushed off, but when the same behavior is shown in a dog pushing 100 pounds it doesn't translate to cute or funny, in my opinion.
So, thus I have to concede that that same behavior in Benny should not be viewed as cute or funny either. That is why little dogs get away with so much more nonsense. As an owner, you just pick up your 10, 15, 20 pound dog and march off with him/her. If that dog is 80-100+ pounds correcting the behavior and removing the dog from the problem is much more of an issue.
We hope everyone had a safe, happy and reasonably healthy Halloween. This year, with Henry again being the lone pug and defying many of the predicted odds, we opted to have him dress as UnderDog! There's no need to fear! UnderDog is here!
We feel he is the epitome of an underdog. Defined by Google as "a competitor that has little chance of winning a fight or contest." The way we see it, Henry's cancer was caught by accident and thus, without this dumb luck he would have left us the way Solsey, Benny and Luna have left us. So, who better to don the UnderDog cape then Henry?!
For those of you unfamiliar with UnderDog, here is a snippet.
For those of you who remember, name UnderDog's girlfriend for bonus points!
We weren't sure if Henry was going to go trick-or-treating this year. We decided to make it a game time decision based on how he was doing on Halloween Day. He had a great day on Halloween and just before sunset, we suited him up and he took to the streets to get some treats. Going out while it was still daylight was a huge help to Henry. Here is a short clip of Henry flying to Grammy's house.
Henry also came across this guy while he was out and thought someone ought to give him a few treats to put some meat on his bones!
We close our Pugs in the City posts with the final chapter. This was the breakfast on the beach event. I will say it was bordering on torture to roust Henry for this event. The breakfast started around 11 and while that is not early by even my own like to sleep in standards, Henry had such a big day the day before that he was happily recuperating well into the late morning hours.
Despite Henry's sleepiness, we managed to get up and make it to the beach in time. When we got there the yummy smells overtook him and he simply wanted to devour everything within his immediate circumference. Since this was not feasible, we took a jaunt from the covered pavilion area to the beach. And by a jaunt, I mean we carried him. Henry was toast. He entered full on stubborn mode and was not walking anywhere except back to the yummy smells.
We got to the beach where it was super windy! And even though there was a cone that said, "No Parking," Henry disobeyed the instruction and parked himself there anyway! He would not budge. He would not walk, sit or move in any capacity! He was still taking in the smells that the wind brought his way.
We saw other dogs, not just pugs, enjoying the windy day on the beach. The surf was pretty rough and the sand was gritty (not like on our beaches) so we did not really venture out to get closer to the shore. And by that, again, I mean we were getting tired ourselves of toting the 25 pound doodle boy everywhere that morning. We had brought the Solsey stroller and he may have used it by that time. We had brought the stroller everywhere with us on Saturday, but Henry scoffed at the need for such transport. Saturday he walked everywhere he needed to go. By Sunday he needed the transport, but preferred to be carried, of course.
So, after some time visiting and chatting with other pugs and their people, spending some time on the beach, we headed home. Home to Cupid who had been cat sat by Grammy. Thank you, Grammy! We gave Grammy off on Monday, though. We needed the bonus day off work to take care of our typical weekend business such as grocery shopping, cooking/making Henry bowls, cutting the grass, doing laundry and other household chores. Henry pretty much slept most of Monday! One tuckered out little pug!
Thanks again to CFPR for putting on a weekend of wonderful pug events! It was a great experience, a superb Henry adventure and a heartwarming make up trip for Henry who just over a year ago we were still not sure he'd be alive another month! But here he stands! One strong trooper of a pug!
This is about the pug party! After a long day of train riding, pirate museuming, walking the city and just overall being awake and active, Henry still had a party to attend! He had a few bites of food and tried on his Pirate costume. Which after we got to St. Augustine, I realized I had packed the wrong costume. When Henry lost his eye in 2014, we planned ahead and bought Pirate costumes for all 3 pugs - Benjamin, Henry and Luna. Sadly, by the time Halloween rolled around only Henry remained and he was not really in the mood for tricking and treating, but he still made his rounds that year. The costume that Henry wore last year was a mix and match of his own and Benjamin's. And what I realized that I had packed were the "leftover" pirate pieces. But, we had what we had so we just made do and brought the costume with us. We knew that Henry would not wear the costume for very long, so our plan was to suit him up right before the contest. That was the plan.
We were at the part somewhere between an hour and hour and half when we realized that Henry was done for the day. The party, being an outdoor event (in a wonderfully decorated and arranged yard) was in the evening. And when darkness sets in Henry's world, especially on a day with little time for rest, he tends to melt down a bit. To his credit, Henry's meltdowns are few and far between now and we are getting better at cutting them off before they start as long as we are around when they begin. At the party, he was becoming disoriented, but knew enough to keep walking towards the front gate from whence we came. So, missing the door prizes, the auction and the costume contest, we took Henry's lead and headed back to the hotel.
While we were there, though, we met a lot of nice people (none of which have names that I can recall!) but this is the place where everyone got much more social and opened up about their pugs. They shared info about their personalities, their health, the ones they loved and lost and it was just a super fun time. CFPR's Ann hosted a seriously wonderful event! We have included some photos to show Ann sharing puppy pops (one in each hand and one dog per pop!) And Ann was gracious enough to allow Henry a few licks of one of the pops! The pops were a hit!
Welcome to Part 2 of Pugs In the City! This was probably our favorite part! After Henry had some time riding in the car, eating lunch and in the dog run, he was ready for the "down time" of riding on the red train/trolley car. This was a train ride through historic St. Augustine. The train ride, which is usually a 2 hour tour, had been chartered for us so we didn't have to make any stops and we were given the express version of the tour. So the whole trip was probably about an hour or so. Henry was not the only pug on the trip. The train was filled with people and pugs alike. Everyone was so well behaved! Henry truly enjoyed this ride.
The weather was beautiful! He was in the shade with a patch of sun on his feet. We could offer him cool water as needed. He had a couple people laps from which to choose. It was pug heaven for him! The tour guide was full of information and that made it a pleasure, too! CFPR's Ann was even dressed like a pug! That was a pure hit, too! She must have been burning up in that suit, though! (A panting mess, I am sure!) And Ann's hubby sat near us and shared more historic facts! We had the double bonus box seats! We've added a few extra photos in to share some of the sites that we saw and that Henry smelled.
After the train ride was a tour at the Pirate Museum. We got to the museum really late and just zoomed through since we realized that the day was taking a toll on Henry. We needed to get back to the hotel to see if our room was ready. We made a silly mistake and got back on the red train at a stop near the beginning of the train line, so we had to do the whole tour again. This made for a long journey back to the hotel room, but Henry seemed to enjoy the ride. Once we got back to the hotel, we got checked in and made our way to the room just in time for Henry to have dinner. Henry had a few bites of his dinner, but the poor guy was so tired he could barely stand. Henry caught a super quick nap and then it was time for him to get ready to go to the Pug Party at Ann's house! This left Henry with maybe a half hour nap that day with a full evening ahead of him!