She's Still the Same Girl

I've written before about Paris, our aging 14 year old Bichon. Paris has a lot of pretty funny habits that have earned her various nicknames, I was watching one of her habits today so I thought I would share them here.

When we got Paris, she was about three months old. She was a gift for our daughter Rachael and when Rachael moved out of the family home, Paris stayed. We have a tradition of naming our dogs after movie stars so Rachael named her after Paris Hilton. We didn't question her choice, but the fact that our other dog at the time was named Spencer after Spencer Tracy should tell you the generational differences between our understanding of the phrase "movie star."

We learned early on that Paris was adventurous, she could barely reach the dropped down door of the dishwasher while it was being loaded but somehow managed to get close enough one day to eat the dish soap when we glanced away for a minute. We spent that afternoon with soap bubbles coming out the front end and everything else coming out the back. Paris also likes fruit and if you are preparing fruit, as we often are, or eating fruit, she will wait patiently as long as it takes to get some, long after the other dogs have given up, hence her nick name "fruit dog."

Paris from an early age has been a natural born explorer. She mastered the doggy door when she was just tall enough to plop down onto the concrete outside because she couldn't go through it with four legs planted, two always had to be in the air, either coming or going. Our backyard was sloped and full of flowering plants and bushes. Paris would put her nose to the ground and sniff and chew and hide. She would stay outside until we forced her to come in. If she could have talked she would have said "Aww do I have to?" when we wanted her in the house. 

We also learned soon that she loved to dig in the enriched soil in which the plants were planted. Often we would call her name and a little face, which was formerly nicely groomed and white in color, would pop up covered in dark soil, black as could be. This earned her the name "Plant Digger."

When we moved from that house to another one, we had a sand pit in the backyard designed for the dog's to take care of their business. Well, Paris thought that was fine, but she soon realized that the sand retained heat, so it was a good place to sun oneself.  I tried fighting that battle, because honestly I thought it was gross, but finally I gave up, especially since Harry liked the idea as well. Because we lived in the Mojave Desert, we worried about the heat but she loved it. She was so hot when she came in that we called her "Hot Dog."

Until recently, Paris has loved catching a thrown toy, usually a small stuffed animal. Not unusual for a dog, but not the way Paris does it. Mark will have the toy in his hand, wheeled back and ready to throw. Paris will run out like a receiver going for a pass and Mark waits. Paris gets way far out and turns to look, then she gets low and starts moving forward slowly, nose down to the ground like she is stalking her prey, earning her the title "stalker dog." Finally Mark throws and most times she catches it. 

This past year however, we noticed that she stopped playing catch. We also noticed that she would stare blankly for no reason and want to be let in and out all day, sometimes just to go out and then immediately come back in. She also started having accidents in the house and was not sleeping through the night, confusing her days and nights. We talked to our vet and together we realized she has dog dementia.

Many a day, I wonder if she is still there, but then she surprises me by reverting to her old self. Today was one of those days. Since she was a puppy, Paris has loved hiding in my clothes. If we ever needed to find her indoors, she was inevitably in my closet, rubbing on, hiding under or sleeping beneath my clothes. Light on or light off, it didn't matter. Door opened or closed, either way, my clothes closet in every home we've owned is her happy place. This morning was no different, I glanced into my closet and there she was, peeking out from beneath the clothes. The girl who was a plant digger, hot dog, stalker dog and fruit dog. Her mind may not be what it once was, but somedays at least, she's still the same girl. 

To learn about dog dementia:

R.I.P. December 2019