I know they’re all pissed off at me.
Every time I open my mouth to talk about it, they envisage stabbing me with a large blade or maybe even just wrapping duct tape round my mouth multiple times and then layering it heavily multiple times over my nostrils so that I just fade away, mumbling into oblivion.
I don’t blame them. I’m like a long playing record.
You see, I haven’t been sleeping.
And the whole world’s gotta know about it so that they can feel sorry for me, right?
In the last few weeks, my two fantastic former employees but now favorite retirees, Ava and Freddie, have been driving me mad with their ‘sundowners syndrome’.
To those of you who never had a parent with Alzheimer’s or a dog with canine cognitive dysfunction brought on by age, this is where evening time is no longer a time for you to put your feet up and rest, it’s when your dog’s (or humans’) brain says ‘Shake your booty’ like KC and the Sunshine Band.
Ava, as many of you will know, is in the ‘home strait’ or hospice care, with an aggressive cancer (neoplasia) that is eating away at the flesh on her back end. She’s bright enough during the day, eats beautifully, is skippy like a kangaroo every morning but then sadly spends many a night pacing and panting, going from one room to the next and looking completely discombobulated at times.
Some of this is down to the Georgia heat, I know that, so we have fans absolutely everywhere. But at times she has no clue who I am, and looks almost shocked when she ‘comes around’ from her short stupors.
Neurological ‘time outs’ are a common factor in end stage cancer, so I was kind of prepared for this.
Her time is short with us; I absolutely f*cking adore this dog and appreciate every minute she gave of herself for ten years to help us rehabilitate problem dogs, so she can basically do and get whatever she wants now.
Freddie, my handsome bed partner (as soon as Freddie moved upstairs permanently, we, as in Fred and I, had to kick Pete out of the king size bed...there was simply no room for him!) and all round scrumptious chap, is also experiencing some neurological issues that have him struggling with his back end, panicking when he can’t get to any available food (I know he’s a Weimaraner but this is a totally different kind of panic) and frantically getting on and off the bed all night, going out to pee, then forgetting he’s been out to pee, so immediately needing to go again…..
Urgghhhh. It’s quite awful.
But enough about them, what about me?I have to make this all about me….
I’m tired as shit. I also look like shit.
Sleep is the single most important gift you must give yourself every day.
Without it, our brain functions way less effectively, we are slower in response, we experience brain fog and....what was I saying? Who are you people? Where are my shoes?
Humans need around 6-8 hours of sleep when they are adults, some lucky folks can get by on 4 but honestly I don’t trust people who say shit like that. They’re either inhuman......or they’re lying.
The brain needs down time to process all of the events of the day, to sift them through and work out what’s valuable and what isn’t, and sleep is the ‘power down’ button that enables it to do that. Without sleep, we are functioning at 50% or less.
The average mature dog sleeps for 16-18 hours a day. The rest of his daily life will, or should be, made up of walking, killing squirrels, eating, begging for food, thinking about sausages, working out how to kick said husband off of the marital bed and trying to use his paws to open the refrigerator.
When he is asleep, and he’s doing that rapid eye movement combined with crazy feet and yipping, he’s dreaming about killing squirrels and eating sausages. Hmmmm, actually add steak to that list.
So, we know that sleep is important. We know how much they, and we, should be having, but in a situation like this, how do we go about it?
Without enough sleep, Freddie and Ava’s brain will not be able to serve the function that it’s designed to do, so then the cognitive dysfunction becomes an even bigger likelihood. We have always placed a great deal of importance on exercise as a mood booster and heart helper, balanced freshly prepared diet with lots of fish, some raw food and all easily digestible proteins, massage to stimulate response.
It didn’t seem like anything was solving this problem, and I was desperate; I was totally ready to stick my head in the oven (it’s electric, didn’t work), hang myself from a nearby tree (I’m fat, the branch just broke and I landed with my knickers on show) or drink myself to death (more about that later…).
Well, there’s no cast iron guarantee on anything in this area, but I have to tell you what Did work for me the last three nights and I’m going to keep at it while the going is good.
First of all, food.
We always give every single dog at the Ranch a treat before bed, and it is always a carb rich treat. Why carbs? Here’s a little simple science bit for you….
Giving a carb rich meal just before bed promotes a positive and relaxed mood gained through a decent rush of the neurotransmitter serotonin to flood the brain. You all know what serotonin is right?
Pill poppers know it as Prozac.
So, instead of shoving Prozac down your dog’s’ neck every day in order to promote healthy sleep, and a more generally balanced mood (oh yes it does that too, but that’s one I’ll go into more when I discuss aggression and stress in another newsletter) a small bowl of cooked brown rice, a drizzle of honey on top and maybe a little full fat buttermilk or yogurt, will normally send your dog off into LaLa land pretty quickly.
Or a nice carb rich cookie made with oats and minimal wheat?
Or a sweet potato with a little honey and some natural yogurt.
No snacks with corn though please. Corn is unusually low in tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin and so can actually have the adverse effect, decreasing serotonin levels and making a dog anxious. So NO corn ever please, it messes with your dog’s delicate little psyche-.
All of these things work a treat. 99% of the time….
So, when they didn’t work on Fred and Ava I was desperate for something else to knock the little buggers into oblivion. I know I sound selfish but I work a 70/75 hour week and I don’t need to be feeling like shit on two hours of sleep when I greet my ‘adoring public’ dropping off their dog in the Ranch driveway every morning. Trust me, they’re not so adoring when I look and sound like Hagrid from Harry Potter. Mumbling ‘Piss off and leave me alone’ from under my wrinkled brow isn’t good for business!
The last three nights, I have changed up their night-time routine.
I have given them their bedtime snack earlier. And then right when I go to bed, which I have delayed by about a half hour so that their food was mostly digested, I gave them both a massive dose of the CBD oil Pet Releaf.
Oh sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph.....it was like a liquid lullaby!
Fred got up on the bed beside me, farted (and then grinned, it’s our thing....) and rummaged into the sheets trying to make a decent nest for himself, then passed out so hard I thought he was dead. I woke up at 3 am this morning and shook him because he was in such a deep sleep. He was uber pissed off at me, sighed, farted again and then was back snoring inside three minutes.
Ava, ten minutes after her dose that first night, performed three little ‘whirlies’ around her favorite bed, settled down and was still there when I came out at 6 am the next morning.
How much is massive when it comes to a dose of Pet Releaf?
I gave Fred a dropper and a half, and Ava one full dropper.
Slightly more than the recommended dose. They both get it in the morning too you see because it helps with inflammation.
Fred’s 84 pounds, Ava is 70-ish.
I know that in some of the places where this newsletter is read, like the UK and Europe, Pet Releaf isn’t easily available, which is a massive shame. I’ve tried 14 different CBD oils now and this is hands down the best. I don’t have shares in the company, I don’t get anything for pushing their product, it’s just that it’s quite brilliant and so I wanted to share that with you.
The strength has to be correct though.....Pet Releaf 1700 for large dogs. 700 for medium sized dogs and the 330 strength for smalls.
I know you were all desperately wanting to know how I’m doing? (Just remember...it’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all about me, it’s all about me).
Well, truth is, I’d love to say that because the dogs got a great nights sleep, I turned in like a baby on the pillow top mattress and eased magically into slumber, drifting away with unicorns and fairies.
No, of course not.
I’m a control freak and habitual panicker so I worried all night that first night that I’d probably maimed them both, even though I totally know that CBD is non psychoactive and pretty harmless. But hey, it’s my brain and I’m old and pathetic!
So the second night, I followed their lead. Had a small carb meal at about ten, then just as the two of them started to settle, I opened a nice bottle of petite Syrah, poured myself a mammoth- somewhere between a regular pint glass and a feeding trough for a herd of cows- glass and drank it back in ten minutes.
I was out for the count sooner than you could say ‘Thank God for Mamas little helper!’