At a very early stage in his life, Danny never quite mastered the fine art of barking. Where our Labs might let out mighty roars, and the fabled Action Dog lets out a bark that could bend steel doors, Danny emits a sort of enthusiastic scream.
It’s so enthusiastic, in fact, that I am afraid that one day the police may come to our door, investigating possible child abuse reports.
We took in Danny when Tracy’s mother died two years ago, and he has been coming out of his life-long shell over time. But there is another shell that is claiming Danny slowly and cruelly; Danny is developing Alzheimers.
Danny has suffered a life-long timidity, even a terrible fear of strangers. This fear sometimes extended to people he already knew, when they would come into view, carrying something in their hands. There was always the feeling that before Danny was found wandering on Tracy’s parents’ ranch in Texas., that someone had abused him horribly.
Things got a little worse for Danny when he came to live with us. He was confused and scared, though over time he managed to become a fairly happy dog - though you couldn’t tell it from his happy screaming at suppertime or when it is time to go outside.
Of late, though, Danny has been having some difficulty focusing, and has been snapping at dogs he has previously gotten along with. He snarls and barks at things that don’t exist.
He forgets where his food bowl is.
Sometimes, in the yard, he stands alone, shivering, after the others have gone in. He’s in a place he doesn’t recognize, facing a man who doesn’t look remotely familiar to him.
“Come on, Danny,” I’ll say gently. “It’s time to come in, boy.” Gradually, I am able to coax him back into the house.
Danny is lost and alone, no name to call his own, no friends at these times. He is the dog without a country.
Fortunately, there is a medication - Selegiline - which helps with his “cognitive dysfunction.” as the label on the bottle says. He is more like the Danny of old, though we watch him carefully.
Because one day, the medicine will cease to work, and Danny just won’t be here any more. I dread that day.
Quote of the Day
The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love. - William Sloane Coffin