May 1, 2014

White Dog came up and sat quietly at my feet. We had just returned from taking Oso to see Dr. Julia and I was still holding our Little Man closely against my breast; his eyes were closed. "It did not go well, did it?" she carefully asked.

The tears welled and I rested my head on top of the sleeping Oso's. WD shifted to lean against my leg. The others gathered around us except for Taiko who went to Steve's side and buried his face in his lap.

"Dr. Julia says we are doing all we can medically. Oso is not in pain but he has lost another 2lbs. He has no body fat and his muscle mass is fast disappearing. He does not have enough weight to keep his body temperature normal...it was only 98 degrees and should be between 100 and 102."

Frontotemporal Dementia with motor neuron disease, which occurs in humans and dogs, has symptoms which include slurring of speech, difficulty swallowing, choking, limb weakness or muscle wasting. This is what we believe the shape Oso's dementia (or canine cognitive disorder) has taken. In patients with FTD-MND, there is often (but not always) a family history of the disease (which is unknown for Oso since he is a rescue)...the good news is that scientists are getting closer to identifying gene mutations that cause the illness...but it will not help our Oso now.

I continued talking to the White Dog Army, "there is no cure for dementia. We are doing everything possible to maintain your brother's dignity and to manage his pain. He is not ready to leave this world and with support and care can be with us for some while longer."

"So he's not going to die?" YoYoMa asked reflecting the fear all of the Army felt. "We all will die, dear one. You in the animal world accept that better than humans do. But we will not give up! "

Steve spoke up. "Dr. Julia gave us some new tools to possibly help. This bag contains the equipment needed to give subq fluids. It will be a way to keep him hydrated even when he is not swallowing very well. We need to be sure to keep him warm; when he naps especially in the stroller we will tuck a blanket over him. And you have already all helped grind up and mix his food into a slurry that we can syringe feed when he has trouble chewing. Even though his muscles are weak it is important for him to try to use them, even if he just stands leaning or takes a few stumbling steps."

"We will all need to be extra careful not to step on Oso or knock the Little Guy over," Puff pointed out looking sternly at her two bigger brothers who are often oblivious. "Yes, we must all take extra care," White Dog agreed.

"Can we still give him nuzzles and kiss his nose?" Bella wanted to know. She frequently touches noses with all of the WDA and often specially comes over to press her face against Oso's furs as he is cradled in my arms. 

"Love is the most powerful weapon we have," I told her. "Touching and talking to him grounds him here with us and helps with the fear that wells up inside him. He may not always respond but I know for certain that he KNOWS we are all here, surrounding and protecting him, sharing this journey, believing in him."

"Let's see if he will eat a little bit," White Dog suggested. "if we just try lots of times during the day maybe we can get him to increase his meals." "Maybe if we ALL have a snack around him as momma tries to feed him, he'll get the idea from our good example," YoYo added and looked toward the jerky bag.  I glanced at Steve. He shrugged, "It is worth a try."


Angel Ginger Jasper said...

The tears are welling as I read this and I can so feel your pain. Dementia came rushing at us too with Jasper. I know that you will all be doing all in your power to make sure that your sweet boy feels the love and knows he is not fighting alone. Love is indeed the best medicine. You have love coming from here and I hope it helps a little x

TwoSpecialWires said...

Just as I'm sure you knew, this brought tears and complete understanding. You so clearly understand this awful journey ... and set a beautiful example of how to be Family. How to Love. And how to garner strength fom each other. We love you all ... and we travel this journey with you ... our HeartFamily.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

A tough post to read. But we know that you and the Army will do all in your power to make life for Oso as good as you can. Love is a wonderful medicine.

Hugs and Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning and Mom

Amber DaWeenie said...

Over the years we've seen this happen in our pack again and again since most of them have lived to that ripe old age where dementia seems to take over. It's so sad to watch, but a lot of love can make this a lot easier. Oso will feel that love that's directed toward him and he'll respond. We all send our love and lots of hugs.

Jo's World said...

Let this bring our love to Oso and with all of your love and comfort he will live out many good days.

A most touching post, Sue, one we won't soon forget.

Love to all,

Stella, Zkhat and Jo

rottrover said...


Bart, Ruby and Otto

Random Felines said...

((hugs)) to all of you and kisses to Oso.....

Brian said...

There are so many of us out here that love you Oso and you will constantly be in our thoughts and prayers.

meowmeowmans said...

We love you all, dear friends. We are sending special energy, purrs, prayers and thoughts to you all, especially for dear Oso.

Casper and pals said...

Sending lots of love to you, Oso and rest of your family (2 and 4 legged).