No more puppy love

When our first dog, Cookie, died of lymphoma at age 4, Mom did a nice job of trying to comfort Patrick and me even as she felt a lot of sadness at the loss of her granddog. She bought us a stuffed black dog toy and got herself one, as well, to cuddle with during our sad moments. I still have that stuffed animal on my dresser. We got Bino (short for Bambino) just five days later, adopting him from a shelter just a few hours after he had been dropped off. He was a tiny beagle mix puppy, scared and quivering in the back of his kennel. Patrick tucked Bino into his jacket and drove him home. And every day after that for about three years, Mom walked from her apartment around the corner to our house around lunchtime to let Bino out for a bathroom break. When we got Spencer the chocolate lab six months later, she became Grandma to two doggies and visited them every day that we were at work. She would give them an ice cube treat to put them back in their crates, and she’d always refill the tray. We put dog treats into a dedicated ice cube tray to give to the dogs when we leave the house. In fact, one sign of Mom’s illness was that she sometimes left the ice cube tray on the counter, or even in a cupboard.

We got Bino at the end of 2003. Mom was diagnosed in November 2005. She kept trying to look after the dogs after that, though at some point I told her she didn’t have to worry about it anymore if she forgot or didn’t feel like coming by the house. She moved to assisted living in 2007. I still brought her to our house for occasional visits, holidays, stuff like that. She seemed to still enjoy seeing the dogs, and they loved seeing and smelling their long lost Grandma. The last Christmas that she was home, the boys were very glad to greet her even before she took off her coat.

I think this is so cute. And that was back in the days when Mom carried her yellow purse.

Bino in particular is always up for a cuddle with his favorite ladies.

The Alz center has always told me that I am welcome to bring my dogs in to see Mom and to cheer up other residents. So on Monday, the Fourth of July, I finally took Bino with me. Spencer is too big and unpredictable. But Bino is pretty manageable, and he had a stronger bond to Mom. Before I found Mom in the program area, I ran into a resident, a young woman who has been having a hard time lately missing her family. She speaks another language sometimes, but she stood in front of me and said, “Puppies.” And I said yes. I asked her if she liked it or if it made her feel scared. “Scared,” she said. But she seemed interested in Bino. She walked away, and I found Mom walking around. The residents were sitting in a circle for an activity, and the activities staffer asked me to show Bino to the crowd. Mom and I sat on a couch together. She didn’t seem interested in Bino. “It’s pretty sad,” she said. She talked about horses and cats. I wondered what could be going through her mind, if seeing a dog was stirring up some old memory, allowing for connections in the brain that don’t usually happen. I was concerned to hear her say something was sad. But she seemed pretty much the same, in a decent mood if not a great mood.

We walked to the lobby and sat down again. Bino jumped up and tried to cuddle Mom, and she cringed and shrank away. And he jumped down and landed on her foot, and she complained that it hurt. And though I was fighting the feeling, I realized Mom just doesn’t care for animals anymore. When Bino sat still, she’d say, “He looks happy.” The young woman came by again and stood next to the couch and said “puppies” a few more times. And then she was swept away by a gentleman friend, and they sat on a couch across the room. Mom did say at one point to me, “You’re just great.” I told her that she is great, too. But she was a little more subdued than usual, and did not seem to want Bino to get too close. I stayed only about 25 minutes. Before I left, I did manage to get a picture.

I just wanted one more photo of them together, for some reason. For me, not for Mom, because she obviously got no pleasure out of this visit.

So now I know. There is no need to take Bino to the Alz center. He was a little nervous anyhow. And Mom doesn’t like him anymore.

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12 comments so far

  1. Terri on

    I do not think it is a case that she doesn’t like Bino. I think she has forgotten how much she loved him. ❤

  2. glenie on

    Your mom is right,you are great! Look at smile on Bino:)

  3. JenniferJayhawk on

    I’m sorry Emily. I was hoping for a different outcome to your story. I know you probably don’t feel up to it but I wonder how your Mom would feel if Bino made a series of visits.

    My Mom is not an animal person at all but when my Maltese and I are there for an extended stay she really gets used to having her around.

    Sounds like you are going through a really tough phase. I know there are no good answers at this point.

    Cyber hugs to you and you pups!

  4. momsbrain on

    Terri: It’s true, she is not actively disliking Bino. I just hoped it would bring her joy to see him, or any dog.

    Glenie: Thank you! And yes, Bino is a good smiler.

    Jennifer: Someone on my Facebook page suggested trying again, too. Maybe I will do that. I’m glad your mom enjoys the awesome maltese!! Thanks for the hugs. Just a brief tough evening as I reflected on this, nothing too serious… Mom is overall doing well.

  5. patwhite67 on

    Emily,

    Thinking about our mom when I enter her room, she now does not acknowledge me or my brother. I believe our moms have forgotten how much they loved – your mom for Bino and my mom for us, her children.

  6. momsbrain on

    Hi, Pat. I’m sorry your mom doesn’t acknowledge you. I like to think that inside, she is still happy to see you, even if she can’t convey it. But it’s also probably true that they don’t remember the emotions of their earlier lives.

  7. Beth on

    I’m so sorry your mom wasn’t happy to see Bino again. I’m sure he was happy to see her, even if she didn’t show it too much.

  8. Laura on

    I love it so much that you tried!! And she obviously thinks YOU are still great!

  9. momsbrain on

    Hi, Laura. I might even try again. I think she was tired or just not feeling great that day. As for me – well, after we spend some time together she usually has a nice thing to say, and I appreciate that!

  10. momsbrain on

    Beth: Thank you for visiting this blog, and for your supportive comment. I think Mom was not at her best that day, so I might try again. Other residents generally enjoy the animal visits, so I can provide some cheer to others if Mom still doesn’t care much for having a dog around.

  11. Jeff on

    Em – I was actually relieved by the end of your story, because I somehow took it that something had happened to Bino. I’m so glad it was just your wording and my state of mind that created that absurd leap. It might be worth another try, but I agree with others in these comments that Mom just doesn’t remember how much she loved them and was a part of their lives, and they of hers. Another legacy of the disease….

  12. momsbrain on

    Hi, Jeff – Oh, sorry to suggest there was more drama than there was. I just felt sad about Mom losing the affection for animals overall as well as affection for Bino specifically. Animals can be so comforting and I’d like it if she could enjoy their company. But it’s not for me to choose what gives her comfort and what doesn’t. I haven’t taken him back yet, but probably will try again sometime.


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