Marley on a Mission

janratliffeMay 6, 2011

Marley is my 6 month old boxer puppy. I take Marley to the Nursing Home to visit my husband who has Alzheimer's. Marley weighs 50 lbs and climbs in my husbands lap and licks him for hours. Licks his eyes, nose, ears,hair, neck. Their is a stimulation that is taking place. It is amazing to watch. Even the Nurses come over to watch. Marley does not lick anyone else in the family.

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I realise that I am about to burst your bubble but your dog is displaying a behavior which is unbalanced and it could lead to some pretty serious problems down the road, it is not a good thing which is going on. Your dog should be stopped from licking anyone or anything for more than a couple of seconds unless it is a juicy tasty morsel.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 12:04AM
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Have to disagree with the bad behavior idea in this case.

Letting Marley lick more than a couple minutes is the bad part.

Dogs (and other animals) often sense the 'differences' is people with illnesses or physical/mental conditions and can be a huge help in dealing with affected folks, especially kids and older people.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:50AM
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mazer, i am not sure why the licking is so bad. can you elaborate?

Janratliff, i am so sorry you are dealing with this condition and most especially, having to watch your husband go through it. i lost my own husband to cancer 3.5 years ago. i have to agree with handymac, our dogs seem to have a 6th sense when it comes to these things. my little female corgi rarely left gary's side throughout his 21 month illness and i often came home from work to find her curled up on his lap or snoozing next to him in bed. she was totally devoted to him and his death hit her very hard.

i say enjoy this interaction your pup has with your husband. if it comforts him and you, i see nothing wrong with it.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:27AM
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Constant licking in any situation is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder it is a form of self soothing in which the dog is trying to relieve stress. So it is more than likely that Marley is picking up on the stress in the nursing home, he does not know how to deal with the stress so he licks. A stressed dog can become dangerous especially when OCD shows up so early in a puppy while this puppys behavior may be seen by others as being therapeutic behavior for the man in the nursing home, it is not a good space for the boxer pup to be in for extended periods of time.
Obsessive licking can also be a form of dominant behavior of the person the dog is licking, which is just as bad and can lead to guarding of that person the dog is licking, either way this dog will probably end up biting someone in the near future.
There is also a second issue which has not been addressed. This patient is probably on a number of medications, our skin allows us to absorb and eliminate things in our body - the puppy might be attracted to a medication which is being released through the skin of the patient, which is also not a great thing.
I have a friend who has a number of behavioral problems due to a brain disease, she has a female teacup Chihuahua who use to constantly lick her. I told her and her boyfriend the behavior should not go on, that the Chi might become aggressive. Sure enough about 6 months later a friends kid came over, she was very familar with the dogs in this home on this day she went to pet the dog while the owner was holding it and was bitten by the Chihuahua. It was not the childs fault but the fault of the owner for allowing the Chi to constantly lick the owner. Now that the Chi is no longer allowed to lick, she has never bitten again. Anytime a dog displays odd behavior, it should be figured out why it is going on and steps should be taken to help the dog stop the behavior.
OCD is usually caused by two things, stress and boredom although genetic traits also occur.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 1:42PM
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