Poop in my Pocket: Life with an Old, Old Dog

The very first thing I do every morning when I wake up is turn over and take a careful look at my very old dog Cricket. She has a special place on the bed surrounded by pillows on three sides and me on the fourth. Here is what I often see.

Cricket, a small terrier dog, mostly black and white, is asleep between some pillows. Her tongue hangs out a little. She is so relaxed that it is unclear whether she is alive. (She is.)

Cricket sacked out in her fortress on the bed

First, frankly, is she breathing? Then, what is her alertness level? Is she still sacked out or is she looking at me?  Big “oh-oh” if she is sitting up or trying to get off the bed. I have to make an important decision right away. Who gets to go to the bathroom first? Me, Cricket, or Clara the puppy?

Cricket, a small black and white terrier dog with very large ears, is sitting up on a bed. She looks uncomfortable and poised to move.

Cricket needs to go

These days it’s usually Cricket, although once in a while she sleeps in enough that I can get a head start. The other dogs virtually always have to wait since it is not safe for me to leave her out of my sight on the bed.

Cricket has neurological weakness in her back legs and a bit of arthritis. She needs some help in the morning.  And as soon as she stirs, I don’t have very long to get her outside. She is 16 years old, and when she needs to go, it’s right now. In that case I put on my glasses, throw on a robe, step into some shoes, and grab my phone. I lift her up a little and stand her on her four feet on the bed so she can get her bearings and practice standing. Then I pick her all the way up. I usually have a treat in my pocket and I offer it to her (I have taught her to associate being picked up with good things). Amazingly, even bleary-eyed and dry-mouthed, she usually wants the treat. Her teeth are in good shape.

I tuck her under my arm and she chews on the treat as I carry her down the hall. I unlock the door, go down the steps and take her into the front yard. Without fail, as soon as I step out the door she takes a deep sniff, then snorts a little. Then I make the daily search for a moderately level place on which to set her. Every degree of slope counts against us in the morning.

After I choose the place, I put her down very gently but don’t let go. I keep my hands under her abdomen and help her stand up. I try to get her pointing downhill (there is nowhere completely flat). If she needs to pee first, I let her go and she manages. If she needs to poop, she often needs a little more help. I keep ahold of her, switching my grip to keep her from falling over backwards.

Cricket, a small black and white terrier with large ears, is standing by a door, looking up at the camera. She looks a little anxious.

Cricket waiting to go to work with me

Things improve after that first trip outside. Like a lot of human people, Cricket is stiff in the morning and a little slow to get going mentally. But even though she has dementia, she definitely perks up as the day progresses.

By the time I leave for work, she is generally crowding me at the door to make sure that I don’t forget to take her along.

And later in the day, she is downright frisky.

Here she is getting her supper:

But back to the title of the post. The other day I went through our morning routine. I took a look at her and the answer to the daily question was clearly: Cricket needs to go. As I was carrying her down the hall, I offered her a treat but she seemed distracted. This happens sometimes. I took her outside and she peed, but that was all. Now that is very unusual. We stayed out for quite a while, but no go. I got bored and reached into my robe pocket for my phone.

Not yet.

I pulled out my iPhone.

Now.

Perched on the top edge of my phone case was a small, neat piece of brand new poop. I stared at it for quite a while in disbelief, willing it to be something else. It remained poop. I transferred the phone to my other hand and very carefully peeked into the suddenly very interesting pocket. Nothing else. I very carefully removed the phone poop with a leaf curled in my fingers and stuck it under a rock or something. I actually don’t remember that part, even though an embarrassing amount of my brain power is normally spent keeping track of the location of poop. Amazingly it had not smeared around on my phone case or in my pocket. It had just perched there politely. But even a moderate poop cleanup is not something you can do later.  But neither could I run frantically into the house to clean things up because I still had a 16 year old dog toddling around in my front yard. Also, there was a very important question: where was the rest of the poop?

So holding the phone a bit outstretched (wouldn’t you?) in my left hand, I picked up Cricket with my right and tucked her above my hip in her usual place, noting the positioning of her butt and my robe pocket for future reference. Watching my step, I trekked back to the house for cleanup and a change of clothes.

Once inside, I saw the rest of the poop in the hallway where she had dropped it while I was carrying her down the hall. I have never been so glad before to see poop on the floor!

Thanks for reading!

Those of you with old doggies, do you have stories to tell?

Cricket, a small black and white terrier dog, is lying on a chaise lounge facing into the sun. Her large ears are back, her eyes are squinted shut and she is panting but she looks relaxed and happy.

Cricket in the sun

 

Resources

My book on canine cognitive dysfunction:

Remember Me 3d

 

Eileenanddogs on YouTube

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About eileenanddogs

Passionate amateur dog trainer, writer, and learning theory geek.

Eileen Anderson on Google+

This entry was posted in Canine Cognitive Disfunction, Dementia, Dogs' perceptions, Elimination, Old dogs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Poop in my Pocket: Life with an Old, Old Dog

  1. Marjorie says:

    Oh to be so loved! If we could all be so lucky when we get to those senior years.

  2. Gail Anderson says:

    Beautiful writing. I loved the “wouldn’t you?”. Thank you for sharing.

  3. lorac says:

    Now Eileen needs to train herself to put the phone in the other pocket!

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  5. Mark says:

    Ha. I wrote a similar sort of post a few days ago. At least the poop in my pocket was in a bag.

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  7. pauleyjames1 says:

    At the start of the post, I was tearing up, because I can relate to living with senior animals; by the end, I was outright crying from laughter! Well done Cricket. Excellent post!

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  10. megangiselle says:

    HaH! Nothing to add, great entry.

  11. c says:

    Cricket’s dinner dance made my heart smile! 🙂

  12. A puppy at heart! I love seeing her tap dance in the video.

  13. Nanny McFur says:

    Awww sweet little thing. I’m sure she appreciates the loving attention you give her every day.

  14. Terry Cramer says:

    I had a very old greyhound who slept on the bed, and one day I woke up to find that I was staring at ….poop…a few inches from my nose…Yikes!

    Terry from MatildasJourney.com

  15. Sounds all too familiar!

  16. Gina says:

    My dog has the same thing and she is now blind and deaf it’s hard at times like having a newborn baby.

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  18. Love this so much. Your compassion and love are awesome and personally, i vote we clone you! 🙂

  19. Athena says:

    I had a,14 yr old Dalmatian who would go in his sleep & also leave the occas nugget in places. Got to the point I had to put newspapers under him. Later he needed one of those nylon walking helpers. You grab the handles & help him walk bc he’d fall over. Can buy online.
    Now my old minpin is having same prob. Shower curtain goes on couch under her bed. I have a few beds I wash/rotate. I think I might change this and put a baby blanket under her. Prob cheap to buy at used childrens clothes stores. Easier to wash than a bed. Or use old cut up blanket squares.
    I bought her a soft nylon pop up bed at walmart. Use that on the bed. She actually loves to be in it. That way she is on the bed, but contained so no poop or urine escapes. I have clean sheets. And have time to get uo & put clothes on to take her out.
    Dustpan & brush cleans up any nuggets by my Chihuahua. I never see them come from her.
    Also put up baby gates to stop roaming & more poop areas. I can keep an eye on them better.

    • eileenanddogs says:

      That is extremely clever about the pop up tent! Thanks for sharing. Your hints will help some other people down the line. They now have special beds for incontinent pets as well. But if you are like me, figuring out a way to have your dog close to you on your own bed is a top priority. Thanks for writing.

  20. carol Smith says:

    my dog has dementia and it gives me great strength when i read about Cricket and your daily dealings with her. Susie is her name and she is the love of my life. She is on aktivaite for dementia but i am not sure if it is working or not, or is it just keeping her stabilized so that she doesn’t get any worse. I have lots of good days and lots of bad days. when the bad days come i sometimes think am i being cruel to want to keep her alive as long as possible. People have remarked that to me, and i get very upset. i adore her and want her with me as long as i can.
    thankyou

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi Carol, and thanks for posting. I hope Susie has many more good days with you.

  21. June says:

    Yes hello … I have an 18 year old Bichon named Abbey. Yes it makes for a long day caring for our little loved ones. It is most definitely like having a new born. I love my dog. My husband thinks I’m nuts ! ( he’s selfish & heartless so I recently discovered ! ) As if I’m not stressed enough when taking her to the vet …. he fights me about the cost !! It’s all about money for him ! But I love my dog. 2 weeks ago she had surgery to take a cyst off the side of her face. I was prepared for the worst … but she pulled through surgery. I was so relieved. My visa is up to $ 5000.00 but I’ll deal with that later . I want to spend all the time I have left caring for my Abbey. I can get a job later & pay my vet bill off. My husband causes me more stress than my dog. Abbey is my stress reliever. I would be lost without her. Love all your stories. I have so many I can’t choose which one to tell. I’ll leave that for another day. Hope I haven’t unloaded too much . talk soon ….. keep loving your pet babies. thanks for listening. June

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Abbey won the doggie lottery when she came to you! It is wonderful to read how much you love and care for your dog. I hope you can do as you plan and spend your time with Abbey. Take care.

      • June says:

        Thankyou. … I try my best. Now she is battling another bout of bladder infection. Oh my .. the worry. Thanks for caring.

        • Eileen Anderson says:

          Oh dear. That’s uncomfortable for everybody. I hope she gets over that soon! Take care.

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  23. dawnekmorgan says:

    This is a wonderful blog. I love this post. I am just beginning on this journey. Loki, our families cherished member will be 16 in March. It was like a switch thrown. Sure his muzzle is white and he is less prone to jump the fence or chase a rabbit in the garden, however recently this year overall, his capacity to get up and go has gone. He is a very sweet, very smart old man, who seems to be just as perplexed and confounded as we are in regards to his body not cooperating. Vet said he is super healthy for such an old gent his size, his vision was going and his hearing likely too. He told those are common old age issues, such as incontinence or confusion. There it was, all at once. Long naps where he would wake up confused and upon stranding start to pee. His face was priceless, “what the heck?!” He never had accidents, he was mortified. Confusion at times, was he coming or going? We had to learn to keep lights on and set up night lights so he could see better. Rotate who is there to take him downstairs to do his business. He is a 90lb lab/huskey/Great Dane mix. Goodness was he a handful in his youth. He was always very active and very adventurous, however a short stroll through the yard is all he manage these days. We are grateful for every day with him and the sorrow when he moves on will be huge. However right now we celebrate him.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Hi dawnekmorgan,

      That’s wonderful that you have worked out ways to keep your guy healthy and happy. I’ve had quite a few people say that night lights really helped, even with the wandering. Sometimes it helps them find their way back to bed.

      If you like, go the photo gallery on my other website and write me about sending a photo of Loki. Here: http://dogdementia.com/photo-gallery/ . It’s pretty rare, on the website anyway, for run across a large dog with dementia (also to get to 16! That’s great!). Would love to see him. Take care and enjoy your cherished boy.

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