Book on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Help for owners of dogs with dementia now!

  • Learn the symptoms
  • Learn the treatments
  • Learn how to help your dog–and yourself

Available in paperback, hardback, and all major electronic formats.

Book: Remember Me: Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

What people are saying about Remember Me?

“Meticulously researched, accurate information presented with real empathy.” —Jean Donaldson, author of The Culture Clash, founder of the Academy for Dog Trainers

“Eileen approaches this complex disease with a combination of scientific rigor and deep empathy for the animals and people who suffer from it.”—E’Lise Christensen, board certified veterinary behaviorist

“I have been fortunate to have shared my life with a rather large number of beloved dogs. Having so far outlived all of them, I can only look back and wish I’d had the common sense and wisdom available in this book to help me through the hardest times—the times when it was left to me to figure out how best to help my friends as they started to fade away.” —Sue Ailsby, author of Training Levels: Steps to Success

“Two years ago, my Sheltie Skye exhibited unusual behaviours. At first, we thought it was hearing loss. He would go into a deeper sleep mode, and he wouldn’t respond when we called him. I tried hand signals, but things didn’t improve. He would get lost in the house. I’d often find him stranded at the bottom of the stairs. This book helped me to understand how to give Skye back quality of life—how to recognize his good days and how to help him manage the bad ones. One day I will have to make the difficult decision to let Skye go. But it won’t be out of frustration from not knowing how to deal with CCD.” —Pet owner Ruth Wojcik

Elderly rat terrier with dementia sleeping in woman's lap
Cricket lived with dementia for more than two years and still had a full life

50 Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    I cant tell you how grateful I am to have found this website. I have been struggling since last Wednesday, regretting my decision to let her go. Could I have done more, was it too soon, why didn’t I wait until I was ready? My beloved Sasha was 15 1/2 and was diagnosed in June. It was rapid. the circles. sleepless nights, crying , didn’t know anyone and she could no longer look at me. The scariest thing was she was pressing so hard in the corners on the walls that she was in a head stand. I would rush to her side but then it came to a point that I was so afraid for her safety. I had boxes and pillows everywhere to keep her safe but she still was in danger. When I did the quality of life test I knew it was time. I was giving her meds to help her sleep, that was the only time she was safe. So thank you all for your stories, I don’t feel alone and I see that others have to make this heartbreaking decision. I am still healing, still feel so guilty but with time I hope I will realize I made the right decision. I miss her so much, friends and family keep telling me there was never going to be a right time. My sweet girl.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Melissa,
      Thank you for sharing your story about Sasha. That sounds terribly hard. I’m so sorry this disease was so hard on her. I believe you will come to know you did the right thing. Dementia is a disease, just like diabetes or cancer, and it’s debilitating. It’s just hard for us to think of it that way when our dogs can still get around physically.

      People like to say that the dog will tell you when it’s time, but my experience is that dogs with cognitive dysfunction **can’t** tell us. It’s up to us to decide for them. And it’s so, so hard. Sasha was incredibly lucky to have you to love her and look after her.

  2. […] I have a lot more information on enrichment for dogs with dementia in my book on canine cognitive dysfunction. […]

  3. Darlene Handley says:

    I put my dog Sunny (chow/retriever mix (14/15 yo) down 2/26/18. I had no idea what was going on with him until the last two weeks before he passed and I had to discover it. The vet never once asked how Sunny was doing cognitively during any of the twice yearly annual exams I took him in for. Never any handouts about the signs to watch out for. Sunny had a host of issues though – Atypical Cushings, Hypothyroidism, Laryngeal Paralysis, Degenerative Neuropathy, and at least two Vestibular events – the second one never fully resolving. An MRI last May showed no brain tumor. No conclusive diagnosis on CCD of course, and no real help with his neuropathy. He started sleeping a lot more during the Fall of 2017, more than 12 hours straight! I didn’t think anything of it. Prior to this he was circling a little – but short circles – turning 180 – stopping – looking around – turning 180 degrees again – stopping – looking around – about 5 times – then he would lay down. He dropped half his weight in 2 years, and by the last two months with his weak hind legs and incontinence, was wearing a full body harness. The last two months of his life he seemed to age years and was beginning to get stuck in small places unable to turn; sleeping at night was now gone – appetite great – but seemed to start having more trouble eating really soft foods. Would lose track of food and wouldn’t always know what to do with water.

    The last two weeks, it was apparent, Sunny had lost the zest for life. I think he still recognized me – but with the neuropathy, couldn’t will his body to move and would lean up agains things. About a week before he passed he stopped getting up when I came home. When I would walk him outside he would sniff a bush if I walked him up to it. But, if I didn’t and I just laid him in the grass – he would just lay there. No sniffing the air, no looking around. It’s almost as if he was just trapped in his body. I took him on one last car ride – as he used to love putting his head out the window. I kept looking in the rear view mirror at him and his little head was just bobbing – no looking around no trying to get up. He was just miserable.

    I miss him so much and I really wish more vets were well versed in this and intervened with their geriatric patients sooner before it’s too late to really do anything about it.

    Darlene and Sunny

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Darlene,
      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s especially hard to find out so late in the game that he might have had cognitive issues. Sadly, that’s how and when a lot of people find this site. There are a lot of fabulous vets out there though as well, and more and more screen for cognitive difficulties.

      Sorry about the delay in posting your comments; I have to moderate all comments and sometimes there is a bit of a delay. I have sent all your comments through now. You are so kind to reach out to others who are dealing with this.

      Take care,
      Eileen

  4. […] site after her dog Cricket was diagnosed in 2011. She sadly died in 2013 and Eileen wrote a book, Remember Me: Loving and Caring for a dog with CDD which I would highly […]

  5. […] died in 2013 and Eileen wrote a book, Remember Me: Loving and Caring for a dog with CDD which I would highly […]

  6. Cheryl Nicklin says:

    I’m in the process of making this heart breaking decision. I feel guilty an selish at the same time .Sasha my springer is 14 she gets trapped circles for hours if i don’t move her inside .Appetite is good but struggles drinking water .This read has made me feel less bad about what I’m going to do .Thank you

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Anyone who finds this site and whose heart is breaking loves their dog—that’s so clear. I’m sorry you are going through this, Cheryl. Not being able to drink without assistance (I added food to make “soup”) was one of my little Cricket’s last symptoms. To me it was a “handwriting is on the wall” type of thing. Hugs to you. Your dog is lucky to have such a caring owner.

  7. Mary Jo says:

    Thank you for sharing your story of Crickett. Bell, our 16 1/2 year old dog, started showing signs of dementia about 9 months ago and my husband and I have discussed “when is the right time”. My mother had Alzheimer’s as well. Dementia is a horrible disease for any living creature. Bell is still eating and drinking but has all the other signs/symptoms. But the fact that she still plays “chase” with me, I am having a hard time making that decision. I keep praying that her heart will give out and she die peacefully in her sleep but am afraid that won’t happen. We have a few days that we may need to board her with our vet. I’m nervous because I know a strange environment can stress them out and don’t won’t to make things worse. Again, thank you for your story.

  8. Stephanie says:

    We are really struggling with our 17 year old Westie, Dermot. He has always been so full of Westitude but that has all gone. He is definitely in the severe stages of dementia (CCD), the circling, pacing, staring at walls, getting stuck in corners, whimpering and barking out. Extremely unsettled on an evening. But what hurts the most is the fact that he doesn’t respond to sounds or noises we make which once got him excited. He is very vacant and it seems it is just an empty shell. I wish he could tell us just how he feels, he’s always been so active,! Running with us, he’s climbed numerous mountains and enjoyed lengthy walks but now he struggles to make it around the block. He seems fine physically, he’s eating well, drinking ok….as long as we guide him to his bowls. He has the occasional accident in the house but relatively quite good in that area. We just feel lost as to what we should do. Our previous dogs have died from illness at about 7/8 years old so this is all new territory. It’s hard enough making that dreaded decision when your dog is physically poorly but this is so awful. Reading this blog has been of some comfort but every day I wish for a miracle.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      I’m so sorry about Dermot. I understand wishing for a miracle. I hope for good days for you and Dermot.

  9. Linda Dillworth says:

    Mu dog Tinkerbell is a resce I thimk she i berween 12 to 14 . She went deaf abot 2 years ago and now is loosing her vision, she was abused befor I got her and had ear and eye trama. She ha started to wake at nite anxious and crying . I have try to cfort her by pets and messag, Being feaf I can not comfort har with my voice. What else can I do to help her anxioty

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Can you check with your vet about medications? There are some gentle meds that can help with sleep at night. Massage and petting sound wonderful—I hope they help.

  10. Lucy says:

    Hi Eileen,

    thank you for your article, I just put to sleep my 16year old japaneese chin which was my beloved buddy since he was 2months old. I am still under shock when I realised I will never see him again but somehow I will have to go to all through this.
    I started to notice signs of dementia two years ago but it had strongly progressed the last months.It was hardest decision ever I had to make as he still was physically healthy with good appetite until the end. He started not to hear me when was calling him or just laying outside in the rain looking at nowhere. When I was comming to pick him up he looked so scared and confused like he didnt know me anymore. He would just go out in darkness ir would hide near the car for hours.He would sometimes poop and pee in the house without even asking to go out. The last weeks he stopped to sleep at nights, actually he didnt sleep much at all, was just taking short naps. He also stopped making any noices just was h breathing hardly. The strange thing is that he stopped putting his head on the side (his fav position when relaxing) he was always keeping his head straight, so I suspect he started to have head aches. He also started to shake continuesly without any reason scared of every sound.The last days he was mostly standing, not even sitting. Sometimes he would just follow me everywhere, his sad eyes asking to help him to release his pain and confusion. I just couldnt see his little suffering face anymore so I made my decision fast. The time I did euthanasia I really felt he was in piece.
    In conclusion I would like to say to everyone that no matter how much we love our pets we have to understand they are our temporal companions and we just must let them have rest.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Lucy,
      Thank you for sharing about your dear chin even now when your pain must be so raw. He was SO lucky to have you to look out for him. You did him the final kindness out of love. Hugs.

  11. Jeanette M Williams says:

    Bless you for this site, it is so helpful for me to understand dementia. My 15 1/2 y/o shih tzu Gidget has had an issue with dementia for a year. She has mitral valve disease, dry eye, inflammatory bowel disease. During that time and now she does not know me, is pacing and staring into pace, etc. She had a bad stomach issue a year ago and finding a food she could eat was difficult; finally settled on one that worked as long as I added treats etc. Last week she started once again with the food related stomach issues and I went searching again. Sooo happy to find a premium food that she was crazy about and she has been eating great. Saw vet five days ago and he commented on how well she was doing. The day after the vet visit Gidget started not sleeping at night, asking to go outside constantly during the night and walking in circles. Yesterday she was not able to walk very far or at a normal pace (a walk used to be her favorite treat ) and this morning she only ate 1/2 of her food. She has been my best friend all of her life and I can’t bear the thought of losing her but I’m concerned that she is exhibiting symptoms of advanced dementia. Trying to determine if she still has a good quality of life. Thanks for everyone’s help.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Jeanette,

      What a hard situation. I’m sure you will do right by Gidget. I hope she still has good days left with you. Good for you for doing your best to assess her life. Your comments are helpful to others as well. Take care.

  12. Debbie Reynolds says:

    After caring and dealing with my dog’s issues for over a year, I finally was at my wits end and it was a mental roller coaster for me. My Penny Lane was a rescued Pom of unknown age. About a year after she came to live with me I noticed she started getting kinda air-headed and I jokingly said she reminded me of Dora from the movie Finding Nemo, and I didn’t think a lot of it. She was my pal and followed me everywhere. Over the next three years her decline found her deaf, staring up into space (my vet called it star gazing), and a little wondering when she was let out to wee. Later, for over a year I would transport her in and out of the house because she could not climb the three steps to get onto the porch and into the house, because of the growing weakness in her hind legs. Her appetite was unstoppable and even though her vision was good, she would gently snap at the air searching for the piece of chicken I was holding out to her. The Vet told me it was probably Cushings, although we did not go through the extensive testing to find out, and she did not have the skin issues associated with the disease. She spent her days sleeping heavily, waking with a startle and struggling to her feet on the hardwood floors and to be carried out to potty, then back in to pace, pant, and collapse with a thud onto the middle of the floor to watch me go about my daily routine until slipping off into a blank stare and finally back to sleep. We switched her over to Bright Minds dog food and she rallied back for a few months, but slowly slid back into her inner self. I bought rubber booties for her to get traction on the floors and it helped a little, as she would only tolerate them on her back paws. She wouldn’t allow her front paws to be touched, much less have something on them. I didn’t know if she was in pain for Penny was never the one to cry out or even whimper. She used to not mind being brushed, but now it was a struggle. Keeping her backend clean took two of us. What was going on? I was waiting for her to reach her end with Cushings and that I would “know the time”. I read, I researched, I agonized, was it “time” or not yet. I felt so helplessly alone, as having had many dogs and always knowing when, I was I totally lost with Penny Lane. Until one night, by the Grace of God, I can upon your website and read your story about Cricket and the stories of other’s postings on your site. It was an epiphany, a bolt of lightning, a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I rolled over in bed and watched in the dim glow of a nightlight, Penny making her eternal left hand circle, which is what she did all night, every night, and listened to the gentle tapping of her nails against the hardwood floor and I cried tears of relief and sadness. I had always thought it was the Cushings pushing her in a relentless quest for food and my heart would ache for her, but now I realize it wasn’t that at all.
    The following day was Friday and I didn’t want to wait out the weekend. I had been to the “edge” twice in the past eight months with her, but something in her eyes always stopped me. So the vet and the crematorium knew why I saw calling. And so on August 10, my pretty Penny Lane was freed and I am left with an other piece of my heart missing. I can still and forever will hear your words ringing in head, “dogs with cognitive dysfunction **can’t** tell us. It’s up to us to decide for them.” And you are so right – thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Eileen Anderson says:

      Dear Debbie,
      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so kind of you to write about Penny Lane. Thank you so much for sharing your story and hers. She was one very lucky doggie. Hugs.

  13. […] was able to manage Cricket for two years with the disorder. Ms. Anderson has written a book, Remember Me?  Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Disorder, which has garnered praise from experts such as Dr. E’Lise Christensen, board certified […]

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