My senior dog has sundowners. Yes, sundowners syndrome, you know the one that besets those with dementia toward evening and those of us who are merely getting antsy for cocktail hour. It starts with a little vocalization around dusk. We try an extra trip to the potty to be safe. Half an hour later, another cry, as she pigeonholes herself into a corner with her new lack of vision. Despair and agitation reign for the next hour regarding predicaments I cannot fathom. This from a dog who is otherwise silent and non-demanding. At 6:30 her dinner bell alarm clock goes off just while I am sitting down for the first time. Later this same evening we go out for the nightly walk about and she seems to be trapped in her vestibular circular world again (vertigo). She will only go right and is going in circles. She plants her feet in the ground and won’t go toward the house. I almost have to drag her, All of this has taken an hour. You see, unfortunately, she is very old, 17 in fact, and in the last two weeks has become blind and suffered vestibular imbalance. What is remarkable is that her illness has followed a trajectory so similar to my mother’s ailments. My mother did not become blind, but has been suffering from visual problems, cognitive problems, and vestibular imbalance the last two years. She is also 86. My father says around 4 – 6 is her bewitching hour when she is most anxious and disturbed. It is fascinating to see these parallels between our lives and those of our creatures.
Josie passed over shortly after I wrote this. Happily it was completely peaceful and at home. The vet and I coordinated her palliative care. I roasted chicken and mashed potatoes for both of us (yum yum), made her comfy and massaged her spine from her head to her tail twice a day with an essential oil. She received acupuncture. So she went out of this world very loved and cared for with me stroking her shining black fur. We as humans should all be so lucky. Thank you CILRA for providing my lifetime buddy who has taught me so much. She will be missed. — Nancy B.