Nothing brings a smile to dad more than a warm and furry critter. Fortunately, we have 5 of them! Alzheimer’s moods change as the wind blows, and the pets always bring his smiles back. Some days I just plop a cat in his lap and he calms down and smiles away. But most days, it is our poor dumb dog, Chulo, who has proven himself! Dad has been with us for three months now and Chulo (the Stupor Dog) has proved he is not as dumb as we all thought! As soon as Dad arrived, Chulo started sitting right below dad’s feet, near his walker, and was never far from him (unless one of the kids lured him away). Seems he just has that sense that this is someone that needs protecting and his companionship. He can even be seen following dad into the bathroom or sitting outside the door waiting for him.

Chulo always walked a mile every day with me. Not sure how, but somehow he immediately figured out how to manage walking to the left of the wheelchair. Of course, there is the occasional squirrel incident where his instincts take off – but for the most part he gets it. He even weaves in and out of the walker without tripping dad. Dad now refers to Chulo as “My Baby” and gets quite worried if he does not see him. Fortunately, he is never far when called and dad is pleased upon his return.

For the record, I can understand why most long term care facilities and residential homes do not allow pets. I am thankful that therapy dogs often visit the elderly. My Grandfather lives at a V.A. Hospital in MA and visiting dogs are always a big hit. Many thanks to those owners who make that happen and to those who train dogs to assist others as well. I never thought Chulo would prove himself a good “Therapy Dog,” but he has!

When Dad was sleeping in my son’s room, Chulo never left his side. Now he waits by his hospital bed until he is in there comfortably – then he leaves to tend to the rest of the family.

Yoda will sit for a while with dad. As with cats – it is on her terms.

Man’s best friend!

To read a little more about Service Dogs, check out my friend Al Brittain’s blog and NEADS.

3 Replies to “Pets and Alzheimer’s”

  1. Hi, Greta:
    I work at a pet advocacy organization called Banfield Charitable Trust. Among the programs we offer is Pet Peace of Mind which is designed to keep hospice patients with their pets during the end-of-life journey. As you’ve suggested here with your dad, pets can be an amazing comfort and benefit people in both emotional and physical ways. We are working to implement the program in nonprofit hospices across the country (nearing 40!) and educate the hospice community about the value of treating patients’ pets as part of the family during this important stage.

    Thanks for a great post about the beauty of the human-pet bond and best wishes for you and your dad.

    Jodi Heintz
    Banfield Charitable Trust

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