The Dog's In The Oven

Meet the dog

Posted in Uncategorized by dogintheoven on March 19, 2010

As the oven-dwelling dog seems to play an increasingly pivotal role in this story, I feel it important to provide a little background to his arrival on the scene and the part he now plays in the unfolding drama that is living with dementia.

About two years ago, when my mother’s lack of virtually all short-term memory became impossible to ignore, my sister wisely sent round her ailing and somewhat overweight old mutt to live with my parents. It was move in part designed to provide the rather disorganised couple some added focus to their life and some company and in part to divert attention away from my mother’s ever more bewildering behaviour.

And it worked. The little dog soon became part of the fixtures and fittings, quite literally, spending most of her time sitting with my mother being fed Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut in front of the fire, going from plump to fat in a matter of months.

My mother loved that little dog very much indeed and it certainly gave her enormous pleasure. It became part of their routine and a part of my mother’s life that had nothing to do with Alzheimer’s – and she sensed that. If anything worried her, a smile or piece of chocolate for the dog would normally return her to a happier place.

When the dog’s legs finally gave way due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and an abundance of chocolate treats, my father bought a pram so she could still accompany them on their many days out that generally involved a drive, a long walk and a pub lunch.

They made a fine sight indeed; my father, dressed in his golf clothes and sporting a deer stalker and wielding a shooting stick would look like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Alan Partridge, while my mother, more often than not clad in two or three skirts and each shoe on the wrong foot would push the pram, a happy smile on her face. When not asleep, the dog would peer out from the swathes of blankets she’d been wrapped in, a slightly bewildered look on her face and not appearing to take a blind bit of notice of the world as it passed her by.

Of course, such an aged animal living such an existence was never going to last very long and, sure enough, the day came when she had to be put to sleep. It soon became clear that my mother found this departure very difficult indeed and would certainly not forget this part of her recent past. She might forget the individual moments she’d spent with the dog, what she did with her from day to day ­– but she just couldn’t forget the feeling of comfort, company and joy that was just not there when the dog had gone.

The solution, of course, was simple. My vote went for another old mutt of similar proportions who could lead a similarly sedentary lifestyle and slot neatly into my parents’ life ­- so off they toddled one Sunday, only to return with a Parsons Jack Russell puppy, possibly one of the most hyper-active animals on the planet.

But, as he tore around his new home, tearing up any stray dishcloths or towels, chewing up any shoe or slipper that happened to be in his path and leaving deposits of pee at regular intervals on the carpet, my mother would look on with a doting smile on her face or follow him as best she could from room to room. The chaos he wrought didn’t seem to bother her and she seemed happier immediately.

Of course it was a different story for my father, of whom you will learn more as this story unfolds. Already finding the disruption to his planned retirement brought about by Alzheimer’s difficult enough, the addition of such a tearaway beast into his life drove him at times to question his own sanity. He loves the dog, too, but sometimes wonders quite why they have taken on such an onerous responsibility and is often driven to distraction by his antics – a source (sometimes, at least) of great amusement to me as I look on.

Last week was a case in point. I arrived home to find them all sitting in the dark, – which is quite normal. The dog, excited by the sudden illumination as I switched on the lights, started jumping around and knocked over and smashed a pot my father rather liked. The old man jumped up from his seat, shaking with anger, red in the face and, dribbling more than usual, he attempted (replacement hip permitting) to kick the animal across the room, missing by miles. My mother sprang from her chair, dressed in a woolly hat, three skirts and a pink vest over a yellow jumper and, equally angry, she started shouting at my father not to hurt the dog, before bursting out into floods of tears and running off to her bedroom.

Scolding my father, I sent him off to the pub to calm down and give his heart at least some chance of lasting the evening, before going into the cloakroom to get my mother’s coat so she could join him. There, I slipped over on a small puddle the dog had deposited earlier. In fairness, she had attempted to mop it up with one of the skirts she was wearing at the time, but had obviously been distracted and so had given up, leaving the clothing neatly folded but rather wet on the loo seat.

Of course, being occupied with the job of mopping the floor, I was unable to take my mother for her well-earned drink so instead poured her a G&T (one of her special ones, without too much G!) and asked her to help me peel the carrots, which she loves doing. Both the G&T and the carrots seemed to take her mind off the dog for a moment and she was quickly happy again, chirping away about nothing in particular.

Things remained relatively calm and normal from then, at least until my father returned home from the pub after a few pints and promptly fell asleep in his supper, not even touching the carrots but mumbling about his pot and the ‘f***in* dog’.

I left it at that for the evening and went to bed, only to be woken soon after by my mother’s rather agitated voice. She’d come down from her own slumbers, dressed now only in her nightie and a rather fetching pair of crocodile skin high heal shoes, to berate her husband about the dog again.

I returned back to bed, this time clutching a bottle of wine, while the dog quietly chewed my father’s shoes in the corner of the room.


8 Responses

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  1. Sue Spiers said, on March 19, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    These blogs are priceless.

    At times it can seem that there is little to laugh about where Alzheimers is concerned. A pity really as it is the only thing that keeps the rest of us dealing with it vaguely sane.

    Hope doglet continues to feature.

  2. dogintheoven said, on March 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I don’t think we will have much choice about that!


  3. Sandi said, on March 20, 2010 at 11:00 am

    What a hoot! Thank you for the laugh.

  4. Elsie Rohlich said, on March 21, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Thank you for the much needed laugh. I look forward to sharing more of your journey through this land of Alzheimers.

  5. PiterJankovich said, on March 30, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    My name is Piter Jankovich. oOnly want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    P.S. Sorry for my bad english

    • dogintheoven said, on March 31, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      Hello Piter. I am glad you like the blog. I wouldn’t say the blog is a hobby as such. I am writing it to help order my thoughts and get a better understanding of the impact Alzheimer’s Disease has on the sufferer and those connected with the sufferer.

      Having said that, I enjoy writing and I am pleased people seem to like what I write – even if it isn’t a great deal at present. There will be more to come though as every day brings something new!


  6. Lynne said, on July 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    William, I am greatly enjoying your blog. As a former carer (for my Mum) myself, I hear little bells ringing when familiar scenaria are described, & feel deeply for your father’s frustration & distress at losing his partner just when they should be able to enjoy a well-deserved retirement together. The humour with which you endow your accounts must hide a lot of pain for you both, but any carer will recognise it as an essential survival tool! Are you a published writer? If not yet, I’m sure you soon will be!

  7. sarah veness said, on July 15, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    brilliant! what more can i say

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