White Dog sensed my 4am frustration. She pressed closer. Nuka was having a bad day. Full moon, change in weather, I could not figure out the cause but she had struggled against eating, had whimpered randomly and was now having night terrors.
All night Steve and I had taken turns holding her in our arms and calming her back to sleep only to have her awaken after less than a hour crying and scrambling frantically to gain her footing. Steve had taken her outside thinking maybe...she had been helped to drink water...we tried the dog bed, the floor against our bed, curled with Oso. Nothing was working but nothing seemed physically wrong (except her behavior). In just two hours Steve needed to rise to finish homework and then to head to work. I had a Paws To People booth to be at from 8am until 5pm. How could I leave her alone like this? How would we function without sleep? What was wrong?
As light dawned Nuka settled down and finally fell into a deep sleep. I heard White Dog sigh with relief and I kissed her head.
"This is so much like what Ed described his mom going through after her stroke," Steve said, referring to a friend whose family was taking turns staying with her all night to keep her company and to ease her terrors. A little research revealed that Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in Dogs affects 50% of dogs over age ten, with those dogs exhibiting at least one of the symptoms including disturbance of aactivity and sleep patterns. The dog sleeps more in a 24-hour period, but sleeps less during the night. It seems there is a comparative connection between human Alzheimer's and the canine disease.
I resorted to heavily dosing Another White Dog with her pain med to guarantee she would sleep the day away and gave Michael written instructions on how to deal with the possibilities that might arise. The White Dog Army promised to look after her and provide Pack support. Reluctantly I left, praying for all to go well and hoping the long medicated sleep would be beneficial.
It seemed to help. Michael and the WDA had done a fine job and Nuka was awake and pain-free. She even ate on her own and fell back asleep in my arms post-dinner. Tonight will be the test and we are going to once again give her Tramadol, to ease any physical pain and to help her sleep...hopefully through the night.