They say that dogs are man’s best friend, and I find that to be true. They are loyal, kind, and give unconditional love. Beyond that they are great for therapy and can be life changing.
My grandma is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and it is a HORIBLE disease. It causes her to forget who we are, and even who she is, sometimes. She can still do a few things on her own; but, for the most part, she needs constant care. We cook for her, bathe her, dress her, and try and help her to remember things as much as we can. Each day with her is different – some days she wakes up thinking she is ten years old, other days she thinks she is 13, 18, or 42. When we tell her that she is really 83 years old, she usually gets upset and thinks we are lying to her.
She often lives in the past and daily she asks, “Do you know where my mother is?” Daily we have to re-break the news to her that not only are her parents both gone but so is her brother and her husband of fifty years. Some days she just doesn’t believe us, but on the days that she does, it is heartbreaking. Her eyes fill up with tears and she quietly sobs and asks why everybody is gone. Loosing family is hard the first time, but to have to live that pain and sorrow day after day is just cruel. We tried to avoid the questions about her parents, but it just didn’t work; she thought that no one loved her since her family didn’t come to see her. (This post was written a while ago. We no longer tell her that her family has died, instead we say they are on vacation or out of town. That small change has made a big difference.)
We wanted to do something to help her, so we looked into getting her a dog. After looking at a few different shelters, we just couldn’t find the right fit for grandma. Most of the dogs were too big, too wild, or too old (we couldn’t take a chance of her outliving the dog). Sadly, we had to put the idea off for a while. Then, when I was browsing Facebook, I came across this message on a friends time-line:
“This puppy needs a home, she was found wandering around my work and there are no homes anywhere near. Help us find her a home!”
The picture made my heart melt. She was a cute little puppy and her eyes just sparkled. After talking about it, we made the phone call and picked up the little puppy who was later named Chloe. After a quick trip to PetCo for a few essentials, we brought Chloe home to grandma.
It was a perfect fit! Chloe jumped up on her lap and kissed her face while grandma just kept talking to her and petting her. The change in grandma was instant. Her eyes lit up and she had someone to love. Chloe is still a young puppy (only 4 months old), so she gets a little hyper with grandma and she loves to try and steal her milk, but she is learning.
A few amazing things have happened since Chloe’s arrival. She was trying to eat grandma’s cookie and grandma said, “You can’t have my cookie, go see Gayle (my mom) for a while.” That might not seem like much, but it has been months since my grandma has called anyone by name without help. She has been out of bed a little more, and she smiles every day. She has even been remembering that there is a puppy and what it looks like which is a major change.
I know Chloe can’t reverse or stop any of the horrible effects of Alzheimer’s, but if she can bring happiness, love, and joy even for a moment it is worth it.
My grandma has found a new happiness in life and a new reason to get out of bed. The poor little puppy that was abandoned in a field and my grandma who is lost in her own mind have made a connection and a friendship. It is most definitely a case of puppy love!
Chloe has been with Grandma for a little over two years now, and she is still the perfect companion. On bad days Chloe will sit on Grandma’s lap while Grandma pets her and loves her. She has become a constant in her life. Grandma asks for the spotted dog almost every day and gets so excited when she comes running to her. Chloe and Grandma make a great pair! I am so thankful we found her because Chloe really is the perfect companion to Grandma.