Life with Bamboo - Managing Dog Dementia by Ann-Marie Fleming

23 June, 2021


I adopted Bamboo when he was estimated to be 15 years young. He was already showing signs of dementia in that he was circling and could become quite vocal. I didn't care because the minute I saw his little face online I knew I needed him in my family.Bamboo

Prior to his rescue, Bamboo had somehow found himself on the streets of Los Angeles. How he survived given his challenges is a testament to his fighting spirit. Eventually he found himself in a local shelter and onto the euthanization list because of his age, behavior and medical issues at the time.

Almost by chance he was saved by Stacy McNabb from K9 Spirit Organization who was at the shelter that day and couldn't ignore this tiny barking dog that was relentless in his efforts to be heard. His constant barking caught Stacy's attention and she couldn't leave without him. 

Bamboo was safe, but he stayed in foster care for 1 1/2 years because though he looked like a puppy, when people found out his age, they declined to adopt. I like to think that he was just waiting for me. 😄

Fast forward to today and Bamboo has been with me now for 2 1/2 years, turning 18 this past May. During this time we have had a lot of fun and a great deal of challenges. His dementia has progressed and is quite severe now, but we manage to find a good rhythm that allows us to find special moments that make it all worthwhile.

The challenges of managing dog dementia is not something people like to talk about because I think we fear judgement. It is hard to explain to outsiders why we do what we do as pet parents when our dogs are facing so many challenges. It is also easy to doubt yourself from time to time making it far too scary to reveal the tough side to caring for senior dogs with cognitive issues in case people react in a negative way. What we need to realize however is that despite the obvious challenges, we know our dogs better than anyone and we need to trust in our ability to see when there is still that spark in our dogs that tells us there is still life worth living.

I recently decided to create a short 'dogumentary' titled Life with Bamboo to show people how I manage his dementia and more importantly, how we find moments of joy in each and every day. I made this very personal video to show others that are going through something similar that they are not alone. Bamboo is such a special part of my life and throughout our journey together he has taught me so much and made me a better person. I will do anything to help Bamboo live life to the fullest and until he tells me differently, we will make the most of every moment that we have together 

 Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.

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