1. Expert Q&A: Benefits - Weds 23 October, 3-4pm

    Our next expert Q&A will be on the topic of benefits. It will be hosted by Lauren from our Knowledge Services team. She'll be answering your questions on Wednesday 23 October between 3-4pm.

    You can either post your question >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.

  1. worf

    worf Registered User

    Aug 8, 2015
    My partner has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Over recent months we have had to have 2 aging dogs put to sleep! My question is should we maybe get another dog? My partner wants one but I am slightly unsure because of 1.the way she is with memory and confusion and 2. The restriction on us being unable to easily go away for a weekend etc whilst we still can. My partner has now retired without many hobbies so can get bored easily at home,at the moment I am still working full time! She loves animals ,any thoughts will be muchly appreciated!
  2. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Hi Worf, welcome to TP
    It's a difficult one, she's sat at home all day and I would think even some canine company is better than none at all particularly as you say she likes animals.
    I think a pet would be a positive help and all it would do is maybe restrict where you can go for weekends away as there's plenty of dog friendly places these days.
    Balancing her getting 5 day a week enjoyment from having a dog around versus a limit on where you can go for the odd weekend away I vote for the dog.
    I think having a pet around is good for animal lovers with AZ it gives them something to occupy their mind particularly as you work all day.
    I'd go to the dogs home and get an docile and older dog, I'd explain the situation and I'm sure they'd take it back if it didn't work out.
    My late mother used to work a day a week in the charity shop owned by the local dogs home and they would board her dog for free when she was in hospital, maybe you could see if they'd do the same or maybe for a small charity gift. The smaller local charities seem to be more flexible that the national ones so look for a local one if you can work something out with them.
  3. 1mindy

    1mindy Registered User

    Jul 21, 2015
    We had our old dog put down in October and got a puppy at Christmas. Apart from forgetting how much work puppies are I am thrilled with the way he is going and we both adore him. But my OH can't remember the dogs name or commands, and does not go to classes with me as its all too confusing. Having had time for reflection if I had the time over again I MAY still have got a dog but an older one who would not need so much. We have had dogs for the past 30 years but as I say dealing with my OH and a dog may prove to be too much. I am fortunate that my son lives close and is always happy to have the dog for me for any length of time. Hope this helps.
  4. Tiller Girl

    Tiller Girl Registered User

    May 14, 2012
    My OH has mixed dementia. We have 3 small dogs. One is too elderly to be walked but my husband really enjoys walking the younger 2.

    He looks forward to his walks with them and he loves the fact that the smallest sits on his lap all the time.

    I'm sure your wife would benefit from the company of a small dog. It would give her something to focus on and care for while you're away at work.

    I'd go for a rescue dog though. Plenty to choose from and you won't have all the problems of house training a puppy.

    there are lots of holiday places that cater for dogs these days too.
  5. esmeralda

    esmeralda Registered User

    Nov 27, 2014
    Hi Worf, in much the same situation having lost our aged dog a few months ago which made my husband very sad. I am reluctant to take on a full time commitment for the same reasons however there are several alternatives.
    Check out the following:
    The Oldies .org. They look for fosterers (and adopters) for older dogs who don't cope well in kennels.
    The Cinnamon Trust will help out if someone is elderly or ill or if someone has died and their dog needs walking, fostering or adopting.
    Borrowmydoggy. Bit of a twee web site but if you would like to look after someone else's dog for a weekend or while they're away on holiday, or walk it while they're at work, this may be worth a look.
    Hope you find something to suit you, I'm sure it would benefit your wife to have an animal around.
  6. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    We had to have our old dog put down in the months preceding OH's diagnosis and made the decision together we would adopt an adult dog in preference to getting a puppy and all the teething problems that go with it.

    So we found a lovely 2 year old Staffie cross who has been wonderful for OH. He can no longer walk her because of general health issues but she is his constant companion and sleeps on the bed with him every night. I hear him talking to her during the night and I believe that she reassures him.

    Our GP believes that pets are great for dementia patients and many nursing homes have residential pets as they are considered to be very beneficial.

    There are many adult dogs out there who would make a loving companion for you both.
  7. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    Sorry, I'm going to be blunt. I know it's a difficult choice BUT my starting point would be - what's in the best interests of the most vulnerable in this situation? I'd say the most vulnerable individual is the (potential) pet - though your partner would be second in line.

    The progress of dementia in different people is different, as we all know. How confident are you that you could safeguard the new dog over its lifetime from the harmful effects of your partner's dementia? How confident are you that your partner and the family income wouldn't suffer because of the new dog? I think encouraging your wife to join other dog owners / dog rescue kennel staff when they walk their dogs might be a safer plan.

    Dog rescue societies appreciate volunteers' help in walking and socialising their dogs and have enough insight into their "charges" to only allow volunteers to walk dogs that will be safe for them to walk. You'd have to warn the dog rescue society staff to discourage any plans your partner may propose to home the dogs she walks

    For at least 5 of the early years of Mum's illness I'd never have left my own dog unsupervised with her for longer than a couple of minutes.

    Even before my dog-loving Mum was recognisably ill with dementia she badly mis-read the signals given off by my first dog and pushed him into snapping at her. Before her illness, she wouldn't have made such mistakes.

    Mum constantly wanted to feed my dog ... she can't remember that the chocolate she enjoys is poisonous to dogs, also that it's cruel to over-feed.

    While she was capable of doing so Mum repeatedly wanted to make appointments with the vet (now £30 for each appointment) because she thought the dog was "sad" or ill because it was sleeping.

    Mum kept on encouraging my dog to jump up and sit on her lap - this was a dog which had suffered damage to her back and cruciate ligaments after an accident and had to be protected against making any more wild leaps in future years.

    As you can tell, I personally believe that unsupervised pet ownership is a risk too far for dementia sufferers.
  8. Julia B

    Julia B Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
    Hi Worf, in the last 7 months since MiL has lived with is she has gone from loving how affectionate our 18 month old Labrador is, to feeding her all manner of food, not knowing who the dog belongs to and telling us that she has dug the garden up ( when she hasn't...). What you are thinking is lovely, but long term may make life more difficult for you. Welcome to TP hon.
  9. worf

    worf Registered User

    Aug 8, 2015

    Just like to say thanks for all the views ,positives and negatives I will have to give it some more thought.
  10. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    I seem to remember a past member of TP whose relative decided the dog was the root of all evil. They made that dogs life hell by kicking it and hitting it as in their mind the dog was making them have dementia.

    Is there someone who would let you walk their dog?
  11. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I am just watching Supervet in the Field on Channel 4 and he's been treating a basset hound called Bumblebee that belongs to a dementia patient who has a deep bond with it. You might catch it on the +1 channel or the iplayer.
    I think pets are great for people with dementia but they wouldn't be able to adequately look after them anymore so there always needs to be a second person in the household in my opinion, as it's such a big responsibility.
  12. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    Please exercise caution! My late Husband used to be so fond of our dog (big Billy) but then issues arose:( He got it in his mind that BB was an 'imposter'-perhaps he was remembering a dog from his childhood? On a couple of occasions he went for BB with a stick then he used to put his hand round his face and press. This left BB with understandable anxiety. Also some days BB wasn't walked-he wouldn't leave me so I couldn't ask friends to take him out. On the other hand, when Pete was in a CH I visited every day and usually took BB with me. Pete ignored him but the other residents were thrilled-especially when BB shook paws, did high fives and rolled over to have his tummy tickled. So it can be a success-but it's difficult to foresee when that will happen.
  13. Lavender45

    Lavender45 Registered User

    Jun 7, 2015
    Hi there. I'm sorry but I fall into the no camp too.

    We have a small dog and mum loves him dearly, but at the same time she's tries to give him chocolate and chicken bones. Mum just doesn't understand that he cannot have these things and thinks I'm being mean both to her and the dog. Pre dementia she'd never have offered him either.

    Our dog is a family member with 4 legs, we'd both be devastated if something happened, so every time we have chicken which isn't filleted I'm on guard, same with chocolate. If I'm honest I wouldn't think about another dog if something ever happened to our current one (though I pray it won't). The welfare of the dog would stop me. It's a shame because mum would never intentionally be cruel to him, but......

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