Love and Enrichment for a Dog with Dementia

Jennifer and Yoda

Jennifer Fearing and Yoda

Enrichment is a win/win situation. Studies say that we **may** be able to slow the onset and progress of canine cognitive dysfunction by enriching our dogs’ lives. But even if we don’t, we certainly are helping them in the moment.

I have gotten to know Jennifer Fearing and her lovely dog Yoda through my book and this page. She read my book and prompted the Sacramento Bee to mention it in an feature article about aging pets. I’ve linked the article below.

What I want to highlight from the article is the movie Sue Morrow of the Sacramento Bee created of Jennifer and Yoda. It is a beautiful example of caring for a dog with cognitive dysfunction and keeping him active and engaged.

Jennifer has loved and cared for Yoda since he was an abandoned pup, four weeks old. Even with the slight standoffishness that has accompanied his dementia, you can see how strong the bond is between them. The movie gives me goosebumps. Jennifer speaks so frankly of their relationship, the ways she helps him. Jennifer is working with board certified veterinary behaviorists at U.C. Davis to give Yoda the best life possible for his remaining time, and speaks about the importance of recordkeeping to track his condition and quality of life.

Jennifer told me that Yoda has had no small part in shaping the person she has become., and that she feels it is her privilege to care for Yoda. We should all be so lucky as he.

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6 thoughts on “Love and Enrichment for a Dog with Dementia

  1. We have used food play with our dog for many years due to his problem with boalting his food. Now as we deal with dementia at 13 1/2, we are finding new food games are helpful for both of us. I found this video very confirming. Thank you.

    I also we have some problems with sundowners type syndrome. He can become quite agitated in the evening. Wondering if this is common in dogs.

    • A couple of people have mentioned sundowning to me lately with their dogs. I don’t know how common it is. Since they do rest more than humans during the day I wonder if it’s less common? I have no idea, though. Glad you are playing food games with your dog. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hello,

    Thank you for the insightful website. My dog, Nyla is an 11 year old shiba inu and she is experiencing many of the symptoms of dog dementia. My major concern is that she recently started head pressing against walls. I’m afraid its very serious and could be neurological damage. We are taking her to get an MRI tomorrow. Question for you, do you know if dogs are in pain if they have dog dementia? When they press their head against the wall, is it because she is in pain? My dog paces and pants at night and walks around in circles constantly. She seems to still be responsive though, responsive to her name and when we go to touch her, she flinches. She is still eating and drinking too…she seems to always be looking for food actually.

    Thanks again for your help.
    Kim

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