Into the twilight

As 15-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Junior, spends his twilight years in a dementia-induced daze, his devoted paw-rents Sharon Tan and Chai Jun Yea are determined to show him he’s dearly loved right till the very end—even if the senior pooch barely remembers them.
By Latasha Seow
Published on Friday, 09 June 2017

It takes huge dedication to care for Junior, a 15-year-old Miniature Schnauzer that’s bedridden and suffering from dementia. He lies almost motionless on a mattress lined with pee pads as his paw-rents Sharon Tan, 39, a homemaker and her husband Chai Jun Yea, 42, an architect, reminiscence about a time when Junior wasn’t plagued by the afflictions of ageing. 

“He was such a silly dog,” Sharon says with a laugh, before she goes on to recount the numerous joyous moments their playful furkid has brought to their lives. She pointed to the glass door that Junior had once excitedly run into by accident and explained how his passionate animosity towards felines earned him the nickname ‘Meow Meow’. 

Plagued by a series of physical and mental ailments over the last few years, the sweet Schnauzer’s vibrant personality faded gradually and culminated in his dementia diagnosis early this year. As the dog needs 24/7 care, Sharon and Jun Yea take turns to watch over him. Sharon takes the day shift, while Jun Yea takes the night. 

Jun Yea shares that he hardly gets a good night’s sleep because Junior tends to be slightly more active at night. “He gets a bit restless at night and kicks his legs helplessly in the air, so I try to comfort him by hugging him,” he says. Adds Sharon, “Junior seems to run on U.S. time. He sleeps all day and wakes up at night.”

Youthful vigour
Junior was Sharon’s first pet and she had the pooch for nine years before marrying Jun Yea in 2011. When she first brought the Miniature Schnauzer home as a puppy, the endearing pup quickly became a hit in Sharon’s home. Even her grandparents, who weren’t fond of animals, grew to love the little furball, whose playful temperament was balanced by a gentle and demure demeanour. 

Sharon doesn’t recall a single human who didn’t take to the pooch. “I wasn’t a dog person at all until I met Junior,” Jun Yea tells us with a smile. He quickly fell in love with the spirited pooch.

This is an excerpt from an article in our Unbreakable Bonds column. For the full story, flip to pg 50 of our June-July 2017 issue!