Alvin

Alvin
Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

But by the Grace of God There Goes Alvin

I am at home sitting near the front door waiting for animal control to come pounding on my door at any moment.  I accidentally did something tonight that has left me utterly traumatized.  I decided to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and decided to take my dog, Timmie because he loves riding in the car and I need to make a conscious effort to spend more one-on-one time with him because it's been an adjustment to have to share me with the other dogs.  It was supposed to be our special time.  I got to the pharmacy and I was in a hurry because it was going to close soon and so I jumped out of the car and for the first time I did not tell Timmie to stay.  He is so good about staying when I tell him to but not only did I forget but I thought about having not told him to stay as the door was slamming.  It has been very windy here tonight and so the door really slammed and as soon as it shut I heard my dog screaming.  You can imagine what it feels like to hear your dog screaming and knowing that he must be slammed in the door.  My door does not have remote entry and so I had to find the key and put it in the door to open it.  I opened the door and saw that he was still caught based on the fact of how his body was pined to it and I realized while opening the door that it had completely shut.  The wave of incredible panic, but even more of tremendous guilt was overwhelming.  I assumed that we would have a broken paw or a bloody head or something equally as dreadful.  I quickly examined him and he looked fine and wanted to jump out of the car.  I lifted him up and put him on the ground and there was no limping or any sign of even slight injury. In typical Timmie fashion he trotted over to the nearest bush to mark his territory.  I don't know what was caught but it must have been fur because there was just nothing wrong with him. 

Timmie came to me after Camp Cocker rescued him out of a shelter in Bakersfield on Christmas Eve and his pelvis was crushed but it had been an old injury and so he had been out on the street suffering for a long time.  Camp Cocker paid to have him bolted and screwed back together and he is fine but as a result of having lived in what the orthopedic surgeon had said was considerable pain, Timmie will anticipate pain and yelp when he hasn't actually been hurt.  I am guess this is what happened but the screaming just obliterated me.  I ran in to get the prescription and was a shaking mess.  As I left the pharmacy I had to go down a concrete staircase of about 15 stairs and because I was still so shaky I tripped on my own self and nearly tumbled down the entire stair case.  I still don't know how I managed to stay up.  The irony is that I was at the pharmacy to get pain medication for my migraines, which I am pretty sure instantly started the minute I heard Timmie screaming.  I then got into the car and reexamined Timmie who again seemed fine and then promptly put my car into drive to reverse out of the parking lot.  After turning my head to look behind me while I accidentally went forward was the last straw and I think at that point my head explode.   I managed to somehow get us home and now I never want to drive again.

When driving home I thought what a profound blessing it had been that first, it wasn't Stevie because with her being blind and deaf she wouldn't have know what happened and I would be in permanent therapy to deal with that guilt.  Then my thought went to it having been Alvin.......can you even imagine?  With his fear of being in a car that would have put him over the edge permanently.  We would have had to attend couples trauma therapy but I would have had to find some place very close because we would have had to walk there.  I also congratulated myself yet again for choosing not to procreate because I worked with CPS for 13 years as a social worker and it would have been terribly embarrassing to have had people I know come to my door to take the child away.  Timmie is fine both emotionally and physically but I am left feeling horrible emotionally and now have a screaming headache and so ironically those migraine pills will come in handy.  Alvin must have picked up on my mood because he has circled to beat the band since I got home.  I am wondering if there is something to it and I am considering joining him tonight.

I'm hoping this link works because it's a video of Timmie right after being rescued and before his surgery.  That tail wags constantly and his love for people is constant.  In this video he was in pain and so skinny from being out on the streets but nothing, including being slammed in a door takes away his love and trust in humans.  Now I am going to slam my head against the wall.....again! 

https://picasaweb.google.com/116604454793904722977/Timmie122107?gsessionid=sd5U2n78Qw30QnfhcrM2mA#5679835121170866738

Alvin Wants to be an Author

I have made this conclusion based on the fact that he has "autographed" my last two books.  I have put him on the be with me while I read at night and he has gone into that odd puppy play he does when nervous and starts teething everything around him.  It's the cutest thing imaginable and up until now he has not so much as left a tooth mark on anything and has been so gentle that you could offer him up a baby's hand and he wouldn't hurt it.  But then he found my books.  He has left his autograph in the form of an Alvin bite mark in my last two books while I am holding the book.  I think he would chew up the bottom of my books if I let him.  If I put a book on the floor he would have no interest in chewing it but in my hands, on the bed they seem to offer up new possibilities for him.  I was planning on selling the books to the local used book store but I don't think anyone would appreciate Alvin's stamp of approval and so the books are permanently mine.  The good news is that Alvin seems to have found a way to pick good books and also a way to communicate his picks because the two books with his bite mark in them have been really good books!  He seems to be making himself the Punxsutawney Phil of the literary world because if he bites the book it means it's a good one.  Forget two thumbs up or Oprah's book picks, Alvin's chomp means a guaranteed good read.......you just can't always read the bottom two sentences of the page but use your imagination.

Last night he was on the bed for quite some time but then at 2:00 AM Stevie decided that it would be a really good idea to get out of the dog bed, march herself outside, go directly under my mom's window and start barking her little head off.  Timmie, Alvin, and I all made a run for it.  I ran to get to her as fast as possible to silence her before my mom came over and thanked me once again for having three dogs living right next to her.  Whereas Timmie made a run for it in hopes of joining in with Stevie's early morning serenade and Alvin just made a run.  Once we got everyone back inside Alvin wasn't wanting to be on the bed and he ended up spending the remainder of the night in his beloved dog bed.  Alvin loves his little bed and I am kind of a jerk for making him sleep on the bed with me but it's my only reward and it is simply too tempting to have that little nugget all curled up asleep next to me.  Alvin is very cute in pictures but he is way cuter in person and when he sleeps......forget about it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alvin Got in Trouble For the First Time

Well, you know Alvin is making progress when he gets comfortable enough to get in trouble.  Tonight we were doing a bit of training with treats and I was holding up Alvin's treat and telling him to sit.  Alvin knows the drill well and instead he chose to jump up and about take my finger off to get the treat.  Boy, did it hurt and I raised my voice, while wagging my finger and said, don't you ever do that again!  His response to my reprimand was entirely underwhelming because he just looked up with his cute little face while blinking at me.  I was surprised by his complete lack of acknowledgement and all I could do was wish that someone in this house would listen to me.  Stevie can't because she's basically deaf and Maddie has either lost much of her hearing or has learned how to fake it.  Timmie absolutely does not know I exist when we go to the dog park or any where outdoors and so it only leaves Alvin and the look of complete non-acknowledgment from him made me know that I had finally realized complete defeat in my own house.  Clearly the tribe has spoken and I've been voted off my own island.

The only bright spot is that Alvin went back to my little cuddler last night.  Timmie's jealousy surfaced again last night and so while Alvin was on the bed next to me Timmie decided that it would be a great idea to take the opportunity to hump Alvin.  Poor Alvin, because when he gets on the bed he tends to lose the ability to move and is a deer in the headlights.  I have a no humping on my bed policy and so I kept intervening and then Timmie went for his old tried and true maneuver.  Whenever Timmie is not allowed to chase, growl, or hump an animal away he then goes to Plan B and starts licking their ears and faces.  He is famous for this with the cat.  What it tends to do is to annoy his victim but it's more difficult to reprimand him because it looks so sweet.  So, he went in for the licking strategy and poor Alvin was ducking and dodging but wouldn't move.  We finally got it all sorted out and Alvin went to sleep relatively close to me but further away then in the beginning BUT then I woke up several times and he was curled up in the smallest little ball with his face right next to mine.  His fur around his mouth and nose is a different color than the rest of him and its the softest thing I have ever felt and is a downy, fluffy, softness that I can't describe.  A couple times I woke up in the night to that soft little muzzle sharing my pillow with me and I was so happy he was there.  I realize that I may lose a finger or two but he sure will be cute chomping down on it with that soft, delicate little muzzle of his.

Monday, November 28, 2011

They Grow up so Fast, Don't They?

Alvin has gone from learning to sleep on the bed to five days later being confident enough to sleep at the foot of the bed like the other dogs.  I was really hoping he would want to stay closer because it's my only time to get to have him close to me but apparently he has already outgrown me. 

So far we have raised $55.00 towards Alvin's surgery.  For some reason it does not show up yet on the chipin but there are $55.00 in donations so far.  Thank you so much to those of you who have donated.  I am including the link in case others want to donate too.  http://helpsteviesee.chipin.com/alvins-knee-surgery

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alvin Needs Help

Lately I have received a lesson in humility.  I am a person who does not allow anyone to pay for anything for me (except my mom).  My pride around money is so pronounced that from my very first date until now I don't let me pay for me on dates.  You would think that would make me more popular in the dating arena, now that I think about it.  I have been fortunate that up until Stevie and Alvin I have had foster dogs that did not need medical procedures.  Even with my very first foster dog, Maury I was employed and paid for his cataract surgery myself.  I am not employed right now and I have two foster dogs that need expensive medical procedures.  As a foster parent, you aren't expected to pay for their medical care but it's difficult not to take on the responsibility especially right now when shelters start being more crowded than any other time of the year because people start turning in their adult dogs because they want to get a puppy for Christmas.  That fact is difficult to comprehend but it's true and dogs start being euthanized much more often during the holiday season.  So, rescues are feverishly trying to save as many lives as they can and dogs like Stevie and Alvin become far more difficult to pay for.  I'm realizing that I have to get in gear and start helping make it possible for Alvin to get his knee surgery.  Stevie being a candidate for cataract surgery came up as such a surprise and the idea of helping a dog see again made her needs front and center.  Stevie's surgery is much more gratifying but Alvin really needs to get his knees fixed or else he faces a life time of arthritis.  Also, as many of you have read, the weakness of his back legs impede his ability to do some things.  I want to take advantage of me being home because if I get a job before the surgery than Alvin is going to have to rehab at the vet's office and that is expensive and it would be scary for Alvin.  So, I am swallowing my pride (painful for me) and I am attaching a chipin I just made for him in case anyone here would like to donate towards his surgery.  Getting the money for his surgery is going to come from a lot of small donations and so if you can only spare $5.00, please don't hesitate to do it because you think that amount won't matter because each donation is going to very much matter.  I won't be fundraising here for other dogs.  Stevie's situation was so surprising and incredible that I wanted to share it here and since this is Alvin's blog, I think it's appropriate to share his chipin.  For those of you who can't give, please stick around and keep reading.  I got word from Camp Cocker that they are trailing quite a ways in the twitter contest and so the chances are slim to none that they will get the $7,000 prize.  One way or another he is going to get his surgery.

http://helpsteviesee.chipin.com/alvins-knee-surgery

Here are a couple of pictures of what is wrong with Alvin's knees.


http://helpsteviesee.chipin.com/alvins-knee-surgery

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bedtime with Alvin

video
During the past three days I have wished that Alvin was on video so that I could share his antics and triumphs with all of you.  He really should have his own reality show.  For the past three nights he has slept entire night next to me.  The first night I put him up with me and gave him a rawhide to chew on in case he was nervous and after chewing for a couple of minutes he went to sleep.  I was laying on my side reading and he chose to lay in the outline of my body and went sound to sleep.  He likes to sleep with his head in my hand and when my hand was near his head he would plop his chin in my hand and go to sleep.  I finally lifted him off the bed early in the morning because I began to worry if he would be able to get himself down to go to the bathroom.  The next night I put him back up and he spent about two hours chewing on his rawhide.  It is difficult to move because he pops up like a Jack-in-the-Box every time.  He finally settled down and once again he chose to sleep in the groove of my body.  I woke up several times to soft doggy breath on my face and there he was, sound asleep, often with his head in my hand.  While he was asleep I was able to scratch and pet him all over his body and I was taken by how normal it all was.  Last night he was much more relaxed from the minute he was on the bed and in the middle of the night I concluded for the first time that this dog is going to be just fine.  He is going to be a dog that wants to cuddle.  I don't picture him ever enjoying cuddling on the couch because the couch seems too confining for him, whereas the bed gives him more space, although even with more space he chooses to be right next to me.  When he is sleepy he gets so cozy and open to allowing me to pet him to my hearts content but as a typical male when the morning comes he isn't nearly as cuddly and acts like the night before never happened.  I often want to start whining and ask him, did last night mean nothing to you?  All joking aside he is more receptive to being pet during the day but it's only at night when we're all tucked in that he transforms into a different dog and lets me pet him like any other dog would.  It is clear that his new bed from now on will be "my" bed and Stevie is tickled pink because she loves Alvin's doggy bed and with Alvin in the bed Stevie lays claim to his old bed.  I think Alvin has the better deal because I make sure he is on the down comforter and I have a Temper Pedic mattress so he has to be very comfortable.  But there's no telling Stevie this because she just loves the little dog bed.  It seems to be a better deal of everyone because due to Stevie's blindness she often walked on the cat in the middle of the night and/or walked on Timmie and so there were times when I woke to the cat or Timmie growling and Stevie being confused as to what had happened.

Throughout the whole eye cleaning situation I have learned something else about Alvin and that is that when he runs away his OCD/autism or whatever it is, kicks in and he has to run in a particular loop and so when he runs from me I simply cut go to the other side of the loop and wait an even with him seeing me standing there he can't make himself go in another direction and I catch him easily.

We are continuing our training with Alvin continuing to cheat by trying to get away with half sitting.  He also is a greedy little guy and when it's Timmie's turn for a treat Alvin tries to practically steal it out of Timmie's mouth, which is both brave and completely insane but Alvin enjoys food like no other dog I have met. 

I have attached a video of Alvin in bed last night.  He seems drugged because he is so relaxed but I assure you that he is not drugged and this is how far he has come.  When he went in for his eye surgery I was tempted to ask the vet if I could hold him once he was put under because I assumed it would be the only time that I could hold Alvin and I have so wanted to be able to hold him.  I had no idea that in a matter of a couple weeks I would be able to fall asleep with him pressing against me.  Unfortunately, I possess a personality that always pushes things to the limit and I have been so tempted when he has been asleep like this to try to put him in my lap and hold him but I think that would completely flip him out and so I am trying to remain respectful of his limits but when you watch this video I think you will see how tempting it is.  This video also allows the viewer to see what his eyes look like from his recent surgery and shows why I don't put the Adopt Me bandanna on him at the dog park.  I am assured the pigment will come back...........months from now.  In the meantime, we will remain in hiding as much as possible.

Last, thank you to those of you who have left comments.  There isn't a feature that allows me to respond to each one of them, which is a shame because I would like too but I do very much appreciate each one of them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Putting it out There

As many of you know I have a second foster dog, Stevie.  She is about 10-years-old and she is completely blind and nearly deaf.  I wrote on this blog about when I took Alvin for his eye surgery I took Stevie along because of her cataracts and for her to have the eye doctor exam her eyes just to make sure they were doing okay.  I was so surprised when the eye doctor said that she was a candidate for cataract surgery and that he could make her see again.  It was such great news because with her being both blind and nearly deaf she is limited and it makes it very hard for her to get adopted.  It isn't just a matter of me choosing to keep her because for every day she stays I can't foster another dog.  How fostering works is that when someone fosters a dog for a rescue the rescue can then go save another dog.  The rescue I foster for, Camp Cocker rescues cocker spaniels out of about 30 high kill shelters throughout southern California where about 30 cocker spaniels are being turned in every day.  As you can imagine a great deal of them don't ever make it out alive.  I love Stevie but I want her to find her forever home so that I can help Camp Cocker save another dog, and a dog after that and after that and so on.  Before Stevie came to my foster home she was in another foster home and she couldn't stay there because when the foster mom left for work she would go outside and wait for her and if it was raining she would stand out in the rain until her foster mom came home.  Initially Stevie did not do that in my home but just as the weather turned cold and wet she started to go outside and wait for me when I left and I have come home to her wet, yet still waiting outside for me.  I think that if Stevie could see she wouldn't get so insecure and wait outside.  Although she can barely hear, she can hear my dog Timmie's high pitched, shrill bark (it's ear shatteringly loud) and she gets very afraid.  Unfortunately he is a bit of a barker and so when he starts in Stevie starts frantically trying to find me and once she does she literally crawls into my lap and often put her front paws on my shoulders and wants me to hold her.  I hold her tight until I can get him to stop.  I think she gets so frightened because she was in a over crowded shelter for two months and couldn't see what was going on.  It's a miracle she was not euthanized because it's unheard of for a dog to live in that shelter for two months, particularly a blind older dog but the shelter staff just couldn't bear to put her to sleep.  I don't think she would be so afraid if she could look around when Timmie starts barking.  She is just a love and goes with me to my grandma's nursing home and I pull up a chair to face the patients in their wheelchairs and I go knee to knee with them and then place Stevie in our laps and she just lays there and lets the patients pet her.  She is also going to start going to our local library to sit with children while they read as a part of a literacy program.  I so want her to see again.  She has a scar that goes around her entire neck that is a scar from a chain or a collar that embedded in her skin and so chances are she was tied up somewhere outside for a good part of her life.  She was found skinny, dirty, and blind wondering the streets of LA.  I don't know how she can still be so trusting and kind but she really is.  What a difference it would be if she could see again. 

The eye doctor is giving a generous discount but the surgery still costs $2,100 and so far I have been able to raise $1,270 of it.  I have not posted a request on this blog because it's Alvin's blog and I don't want it to be a blog where people come and feel burdened to give money.  The problem is that I kind of thought I could have raised the money by now but the donations have stopped.  I have gone to my family and friends who have all been generous but I am now tapped out.  I want to make it clear that those of you out there are certainly under no obligation to donate and I want people to be able to come here and read for fun but to be fair to Stevie I have decided to put the option on here.

I have created what is called a chipin, which allows people to donate through paypal and after the money is raised, each person will receive a tax receipt because the donation is tax deductible.  Honestly, there truly is no donation amount that is too small.  Things like this happen when people give $3, $5, $10 and it all adds up.  A lovely woman has donated a beautiful drawing of a cocker spaniel that was created by a local artist and for anybody donating $20 or more will be entered into our little drawing for a chance to win it but if there are people out there that can spare even $3, every donation is appreciated more than I can articulate here. 

So, here's the chipin and for those of you who can't give or would rather donate money somewhere else, please keep reading all about Alvin's adventures because there are bound to be many more.  Thank you! http://​helpsteviesee.chipin.com/​stevies-cataract-surgery




Stevie and I at an adoption event. I end up holding her throughout the entire events because dogs tend to bark and she is only okay if she is being held.

One of my favorite pictures of Stevie because she is so often smiling and someone captured it on film.



A copy of the piece of art work that people have a chance to win if they donate $20 or more.

Alvin's a Cheater

Last night I went to bed earlier than usual and slept in and apparently Alvin missed me because when I woke up he attempted to run up the stairs to get up on the bed but because his back legs are weak he started to fall and I grabbed him, which usually would scare him but he ended up accepting my help and stayed on the bed.  He feels most confident when I am lying down and he ended up standing over me and licked my nose and let me pet him all over.  He was just a bundle of happiness and love! 
We have a new development, whenever I am standing he comes and sits down and looks up at me with great anticipation that he is going to get a treat.  I have to be careful with that because Alvin is so obsessive-compulsive and with his tremendous love for food, I fear he will sit 24 hours a day. What I did not anticipate is that since spending the time with him during his training he has clearly formed a new bond with me.  I knew that a side benefit of training a dog is that they form a stronger bond with the trainer but I have not experienced such an obvious improvement before.  Today he let me scratch and pet him all over and has been so much more affectionate.  I bent down to "talk to him" and he ended up licking my nose.  Goodness knows what will happen if I teach him another command.  Speaking of him learning to sit, when I first tried it this morning he didn't seem to have any concept what I was asking him to do.  He looked to be at complete loss so I gently pushed his little bottom down twice and the light bulb went on and we were back in business.  But now he has started to cheat and wants to only put his bottom half way to the floor.  I don't know if any of it is because of his bad back knees and so I am cutting him a little slack although he sure doesn't have a problem voluntarily jumping up on his back legs to try to get treats and so I think he is just plain cheating, which I kind of respect.

I did the internet interview I had mentioned earlier and all was going well until the woman asked me if Alvin had any quirks.  Ummm, and how long is this interview?  I didn't know I was going to be asked specifically about his quirks and I began to stammer all over the place.  First, which quirk does one choose and then how to explain them in 30 seconds are less?  Many of his quirks have to be explained in detail and with context so I ended up saying something about him going in circles when out on walks and his going to the bathroom on the wrong side of the door at times.  I left out the part him taking off my finger when trying to give him a treat, which is what he did three times already today and I was being careful. I am going to count it a triumph if I end up with at least seven fingers by the time Alvin gets adopted, or even five fingers that at least have one joint still intact.  Back to the interview, near the end of the it I referred interested parties to this blog but I'm realizing that may have been a strategical error because I am noticing that this blog has been utterly unsuccessful in recruiting adopters for Alvin because not even one of you out there has written to inquire how you could be the extra lucky person that gets to adopt Alvin.  I would love to say, stand in line but you have to have at least two people to form a line and I don't even have one yet.  I think the interview is going to air in a week or two so maybe all of you could start now and write things in the comment section begging to be allowed to adopt Alvin.  Maybe then if people come here and think Alvin is in high demand there will be more interest in adopting him.  Just an idea.

The Dangers of Training Alvin

video

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alvin Working Hard for His Treats

video

WOW! WOW! WOW!

I had a migraine last night and I have found that helps to consume a lot of caffeine to dilate the blood vessels, but the only problem is that when the migraine leaves, the caffeine high rushes in.  I watched a show on Animal Planet last night that featured one of the rescue dogs from the same rescue I foster for, Camp Cocker.  The rescue dog, Stuart acted out the true story about a cocker spaniel that saved a man whose car went over a cliff.  It required a fair amount of training on the dog's part.  While watching it I concluded what a miserable failure I have been in training my personal dog or any of my foster dogs.  My personal dog knows two commands and everyone of my foster dogs have left with virtually no training, other than to sleep in and not wake me up in the morning.  So, tonight I started to teach my dog, Timmie how to spin in a circle, which Alvin immediately tried to do also.  I did not want to encourage his circling behavior but decided that I would try to teach him how to sit.  I knew it would not be easy and I was pretty doubtful it could happen at all.  Well, after at least 70 tries and only one bloody finger, Alvin learned to sit.  That may not sound like much of an achievement but if you have been following Alvin's story, it's a pretty darn big deal.  It was interesting because my experience with dogs is that once they get the concept if you then do it over and over again they will sit each time and it's only when you let a day or two go by that they tend to have to really think about it before they catch on again.  But with Alvin he really had to think about it each time but he was able to sit on command seven times.  Meanwhile my poor dog had to wait for long periods of time while Alvin thought about sitting and so in desperation my dog started doing all three tricks that he knew and would sit, lay, and then spin himself around while Alvin was still thinking about sitting.  Stevie is blind and deaf so she got treats just for being her.  I would like to teach Alvin more commands because I think the type of connection a dog forms with a human when learning commands is one that would be beneficial to him.  But in all honesty, if I hadn't been on a caffeine high I would not have had the energy required to hang in there.  I know very little about training but I do know that usually you train a dog in short intervals but I can tell with Alvin that he would not grasp or retain it if we started out in short intervals and so it was a marathon.  He is so motivated by food but I have to watch that he doesn't end up an overweight dog who knows how to sit really well.  I have gone over the ideas for a new command once he really grasps sit but I am a bit stumped.  I think the laying down command may make him feel too vulnerable and shaking a paw would require touching him and I certainly don't want to teach him to spin around because he has that one down to a science and I fear that if I taught that trick that he would never stop.  If I completely lose my mind I will convince myself to teach him to stay, which I can already tell will be incredibly hard because he just has to be literally on my feet when I walk but considering that he keeps tripping my mom who already needs double knee surgery, it might be a good idea in order to help prevent her from falling and then requiring hip surgery on top of it.  Another thing Alvin is learning is to take treats without biting my finger off.  We had one mishap that resulted in a bit of a bloody finger but for all the other times he was able to take the treat very nicely.  There has been so much progress lately!

On another note, one of our UK readers was nice enough to take the time write a comment.  If any of you are inclined to also leave a comment, let me know what part of your country you live in and if you have dogs.  Tell us as much as you are comfortable sharing because I am very interested in what brings you here and about who you are.  Also, any suggestions or critiques are very welcome.  I would like to know if the posts are too long, what you are most interested in reading about, what are you not interested in hearing more about, do you check every day to see if there is a new post or are you satisfied with a couple posts a week, etc.  My continued thanks for all of you out there that have taken an interest in Alvin and continue to read about his progress.  From all of the progress he has made recently I have a feeling I will have many opportunities to report additional progress. 

The funny thing about my insomnia and using the time to teach Alvin how to sit is that I am still wide awake and as soon as we were finished Alvin went straight into the bedroom, got in his bed and went to sleep.  At least one of us will be having sweet dreams and I picture Alvin's dreams to all include a huge bowl of treats.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Singapore's in the House and Alvin's in my Bed

Bernice from Singapore was kind enough to leave a comment and I do so very much love to hear from all readers, especially the international ones who I remain so curious about.  Thank you Bernice!

So, here's my favorite update thus far.  A couple of nights ago Alvin kept attempting to get up the stairs to my bed.  It is difficult for him because of his weak back knees but after trying several times I decided to help him and I plopped him up with me and he quickly laid down and went to sleep.  This put me in a precarious position because I feared that if I moved he would get scared and jump off and I wanted him to stay and see it wasn't so bad up there.  I went through all kinds of awkward movements to eventually put my computer on the floor and turn off the lights but I managed to do so without alarming him.  He ended up staying for a good part of the night with his face right near mine.  I couple of times I woke up to see him there and forgetting about him being leery of having his head petted, I reached over and stroked the top of his head and he didn't so much as stir.  In those moments I took note of how normal it all was.  In the morning when starting to stir, Alvin stood up and came over and licked my nose, which guaranteed him several treats throughout the day.  The second night he stayed up on the bed for about four hours and would have stayed much longer but my blind foster dog, Stevie was in the kitchen and has figured out how to get on her hind legs and push the rolling food bin until it tips over, which then releases the lid and food goes everywhere.  She has done this several times in the past and so for the past month I have been living with the food bins on my kitchen counter, which I didn't want to do anymore so I had just put them back on the floor that night in hopes that she had forgotten.  She obviously didn't and when we all went out to see what had caused the commotion there was food everywhere and Alvin was in utter heaven!  I got the food scooped up, minus what the three blissful dogs had consumed and Alvin was much too excited to go back to sleep in my bed.  Progress is coming more everyday and he often comes to me for me to scratch him under his chin.  My second favorite update is that I can finally understand Alvin when he signals me that he needs to go outside to go potty, which allows me to leave the back door closed except for when we go to bed or when I am gone.  Even though it's California, it's cold here and so I am appreciative of being able to close the door now.  Alvin's way of letting me know that he has to go potty is to go to the door and then run back towards me with a look of panic.  I have learned to decipher it from the other times he runs and looks panicked.  During his potty run he looks like it's an utter emergency but I have learned to open the door and then sit back down again because if I stay standing up or don't go back to the couch he won't go out because he's so fearful he might miss out on something.  After realizing that everything is status quo he goes out and goes potty.  What I knew from the beginning is that Alvin communicates but it's up to me to read the language.

Speaking of communicating, Alvin's eyes are still watering quite a bit and it dries and then hardens on his face.  I have to take a warm washcloth to get it off, which sends his teeth into instant chatter mode and so I try not to do it too often and to do it fast when I do it.  The other day after washing his face there was still a clump of hardened stuff and I gently pulled on it and a whole clump of hair came out and left a bald spot on his face and there were little pin pricks of blood.  When I did it Alvin winced and it had to hurt but he didn't yelp like most dogs would do.  I don't know that Alvin can vocalize when he is in pain, which makes me even more protective of him.  Of course I felt horrible and every time I see his little bald spot I could just die, but we are learning together and unfortunately Alvin often gets the wrong end of the stick.

While hanging out with Alvin today I realized that this is a little being without an ounce of malice, anger, jealousy, or even defensiveness. My personal dog, Timmie loves people more than any other dog I have ever known. He loves strong and hard and his love is so much that I have to feed him right next to me because no matter how hungry he is, if I walk away he follows. He will always choose affection over even his favorite treat. With that said, he will growl at other dogs, is tremendously jealous, and has even been known to scrap with a dog that irritates him. My other foster dog, Stevie is also just a love and is content to spend every minute sitting next to me and when I leave the house she will lay out in the rain waiting for me. But like Timmie, if attacked she will fight back and will growl when another dog tries to get into her food. Then there is Alvin who does not seem to have the capacity to fight under any circumstances, will allow other dogs to take his food, and when trapped, picked up, or feeling in any way threatened, it doesn't seem to dawn on him to do anything to defend himself or fight. He doesn't even bark. There is such a quiet gentleness about him that makes him completely precious. He is so full of love and tenderness that it's difficult to imagine that someone did not treat him well or ignored him for the first part of his life. When people meet him they can't help but notice that there is a special quality to him that unfortunately for Alvin makes people want to touch him.  I took him over to meet my aunt the other day at my mom's house and she, not knowing, began to pet him on his head and he stood there and allowed it.  My mom and I sucked in our breath and my poor aunt asked what had just happened.  My first reaction was to say, he's yours!  He will allow people to pet his head only when outside but when confined in a house, particularly a house he hasn't been in very often, he has never allowed such a thing.  Of course in the mixed up Alvin way, he allowed her to repeatedly pet his head but then when he realized she was a safe person he started his usual ducking and darting behavior.  I have never met a dog that runs towards what he is afraid of and once he realizes it is safe does then retreats.  Whatever the case, he kept staring at her and was clearly very interested in her and it made me know even more that this dog is going to be just fine.  I think for Alvin, he makes instant connections with certain people.  I have seen this at the dog park and he will hone in on one person.  Yes, sometimes they are the person with the dog treats but he clearly picks his person and I think he will pick his adopter more than they will pick him. 

Double Knee Surgery Squared

I found out today that my mom also has to have double knee surgery, so no wonder Alvin likes her so much - they have something in common.  I am wondering if their surgeries should be scheduled together so that I can pick them both up and take them to go potty at the same time.  With Alvin's propensity to walk on people's feet, do tight circles around them while they walk, and walk on the back of people's heels, those two are going to have to be separated during their respective rehabs or someone is going to accidentally kill the other. 
Alvin has now turned the corner from looking like he was a victim of some odd tropical disease to now looking like an alien.  His lower eye lids have lost all their pigment and his upper eye lids are spotted with the pigment flaking off more each day.  When I take him to the dog park I am going to walk away and pretend I don't know him because goodness only knows what people will make of his appearance.  I am being interviewed for an internet show next week to profile him in hopes of finding an adoptive home but I am definitely sending them old pictures because I don't want the entire conversation to be about what happened to his eye lids and whether he is actually really a dog or not.  It's going to be enough of a challenge because I can't lie and so the conversation might go something like this, no, he doesn't really like to be petted and if you pick him up his teeth chatter and he scrambles away as though you are killing him.  But if he likes you he'll put you on his looping route and circle around you approximately every 15 seconds.  But please do try to keep the furniture the same because any change makes him circle himself dizzy.  He may look like he is having a seizure when riding in the car but it's just shear fear and panic.  He does love to eat but be careful when feeding him by hand because he may manage to take off your finger but his mouth is little so he shouldn't bite more than the finger at the first joint.  He isn't a barker so don't mistake his burping for barks like I did, they're just really loud burps.  He is house trained for the most part but he frequently gets mixed up and manages to poop a foot on the wrong side of the door but at least he's close to the outside.  He will give you a lot of attention by staring at you until you think he is some character out of a Stephen King novel but other than that, he's super great! 

In actuality, Alvin is just a love and someone is going to be over the moon with this dog but it's going to be a special someone and until then I will just enjoy those pigmentless eye staring back at me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

To Russia, With Love

I still can't get over how many international readers Alvin has, particularly from Russia and Singapore.  I am so curious as to who you all are out there, i.e. do you have pets, are you married, have kids, what do you do for a living, how did you find this blog, etc.  If I could, I would peak through the computer screen to see who Alvin's fans are.  Please consider leaving a comment here to tell us where you live and a little about yourself.  I wonder if people from other countries read this and think that I am an example of a crazy American who spends far too much time with her dogs?  If so, you are correct, at least about the crazy part and I have found that dogs will hang out with me no matter how annoying I am.  It seems to be a win-win situation.  But for any of you, even those in the US, please leave a comment and let us all know where you live because it's interesting to see where you all come from.  And again, thank you all for reading this blog.  I am able to see every day how many people are reading this and I am so grateful for your interest.  I realize that the interest is all for Alvin and I like that people find him as valuable and interesting as I do.  It probably is a blessing that he can't read because if he knew how popular he is he might refuse to hang out with a lowly person like me or want me to be his humbly servant.  Please feel free to pass the word about Alvin because he deserves all the attention he can get.

On another note, Alvin has improved so much in allowing me to administer his eye drops.  His teeth still immediately start chattering when he knows I am going to do it but I no longer have to stretch and warm up to prevent a muscle pull during the process.  He also knows that a treat comes right after the eye drops and so instead of running away, he now stands in line for the treat that he so clearly earned.  We have been doing the eye drops for a week now and his improvement is significant and to me, it's another example of how far he is able to come in all different areas of his life.  I don't know that Alvin's ever going to be the, jump up on the couch and hang out type of dog but I predict that a year from now he is going to let his person pet him anywhere at anytime and he very well may be a dog that not only sleeps in a bed with his person but sleeps close to his person.  He just enjoys having his chin, neck and back scratched too much to be a standoffish (now that's a word for our readers that that aren't native English speakers) dog for the rest of his life and the way he prefers to sleep nearly on my mom's feet tells me that he wants human comfort when sleeping.  He isn't sleeping in my bed yet but he does love his dog bed, which is located right next to my bed and when it's time to go to bed I pat his bed and tell him to get it in and he gets in, circles around a bunch of times and then goes right to sleep.  He no longer gets up early in the morning (thank goodness) and when I wake up, there he is just snoozing away in a little ball and it is the cutest, most heartwarming way to start a day!

So, to our readers in different time zones, good morning, good afternoon, or in my case, good night to you all! May today or tomorrow be a wonderful day for each and every one of you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Alvin Couldn't Resist Her Advances

Alvin certainly gets a A for effort but he finally couldn't resist my mother's advances and let her pet and scratch his head and back for a long time.  Alvin seemed to fall in love with her at first sight, as evidenced by his constant loop around her chair as she sits and watches TV.  He wants to be near her but he gets nervous and so the looping around her seems to allow him to stay near but stay on the move at the same time.  He gets very excited when she comes over and will sometimes even jump up on her with one paw on her leg.  It's only one paw because he just isn't a terribly coordinated little guy and so his one pawed jump is equivalent to a "normal" dog leaping into her lap.  He clearly prefers her over me but until tonight he still could not muster up the courage to let her give him a good pet.  Recently my mom announced that he was just going to have to let her pet him and that the time had come.  I had to laugh because she taught special ed children for years and has two master's degrees in special ed.  She has worked with many autistic children who had similar issues as Alvin and she knows better than anybody that it's up to the child, or in this case, up to the dog to determine when they can make those kinds of emotional leaps.  Nonetheless, she was adamant that he needed to let her pet him.  The problem is that Alvin is just so incredibly cute and he has a look about him that keeps him in that permanent puppy stage and so the desire to pet him is almost over-powering.  Last night she was over and Alvin chose to lay at her feet and go to sleep.  Last night he was nearly laying on her feet and he looked so cute and cuddly that even someone with a heart of stone would want to pet him.  I saw her going in for it and I explained that when trying to pet Alvin on his back or his head that you had to prove your case (that petting feels good) immediately.  If you want any chance to get Alvin to stay put you have to scratch him pretty hard right away because he likes to have his back scratched but you have to get to him before he realizes that he is supposed to be scared.  So, she went in for the scratch and little Alvin let her scratch and scratch him.  He didn't even sit up.  The look on her face was very much the look of surprise and delight that a child gets when being given an unexpected treat or toy.  She also looked so proud of herself.  I realized that Alvin has quite a con going because can you imagine convincing people that it was an accomplishment and a privilege to "get" to scratch your back for long periods of time?  I need to figure out how to run a similar con!  As she was scratching his back she told him that she had been waiting so long to get to do this.  He let her do it until she got tired and quit. 
The most humorous part of their exchange is the fact that every animal falls in love with my mother and she isn't much of an animal person.  The cat next door leaves his house where he is terribly spoiled and cries at my mom's front door to be let in and he frequently spends the night with her.  When the neighbor can't find her cat she calls my mom to ask if her cat can come home.  A long while back there was a stray cat in the neighborhood and one of the neighbors began to feed her, gave her a bed, and their six-year-old daughter would go out and brush her, hold her, and generally love all over that cat.  That same cat took one look at my mom and would not leave her front porch from that day on.  My mom did not feed the cat and although she would pet her from time-to-time, she certainly didn't give the cat the attention that the little girl and her family did.  One day the little girl came over with a bag of cat food and said that her parents told her to give the cat food to my mom because "my kitty to live with you."  That particular cat had a lot of mental problems and insisted on getting up on the roof but couldn't get herself back down and so my mom was forever rescuing that cat on the roof where we learned she was using the roof as her personal bathroom.  The story has a happy ending with the cat living out the remainder of her life with my mom.  Every single animal I have ever had has loved my mom more than anyone else in the world and my mom has lost count of how many pet owners have told her, "oh, he/she never responds to anyone like she does you. Oh, look how much she/he likes you."  I don't know what it is because she certainly doesn't encourage it but Alvin has also fallen under the spell of my mom.  When she leaves my house Alvin continues to circle around her chair for a long time and seems genuinely distressed that she is gone.  Goodness knows what their relationship is going to be like once she can pet him on a regular basis. 

In the meantime, my personal dog, Timmie is not enjoying any part of their relationship.  My mom initially did not like Timmie one bit because he was quite mean to my blind, deaf dog, Maury and to my cat, Maddie.  He was quite a challenge with incessant barking, initially marking all over the house, escaping from what appeared to be an inescapable fence, and having separation anxiety.  I took Timmie as a foster and within the first 24 hours he had attacked my blind, deaf dog twice and my bold cat Maddie once.  I was going to quickly return him but I just didn't have the heart to send him back to boarding because he loved people so much and I knew it would be particularly lonely for him.  So, I ended up pulling out the hide-a-bed in my living room and sleeping out there for the first month because I had to keep the bedroom doors shut for fear he would urinate on the carpet.  I had to sleep with one dog on one side of me and Timmie on the other or else Timmie might attack the other.  It was not the greatest time but Timmie has turned out to be one of the sweetest, most well-behaved dogs I have ever met.  He has outgrown everything other than his intense jealousy when other dogs or my cat get attention.  He knows better than to attack but he begins whimpering and will bury his head in my chest and then use his butt and hips to hit the dog or cat with in an effort to shoe them away.  Knowing this about Timmie was why I was willing to foster Alvin because I knew that Alvin was fearful of touch and that Timmie would particularly appreciate this about him.  Timmie isn't the least bit excited about Alvin's love for his grandma and they do have a grandma/grandson relationship.  It is clear that my mom has completely given up on the idea of me ever giving her any human grandchildren.  She can take one look at the fact that there is no room for a husband in a bed that has clearly been claimed by two cats and a dog and that even if there was room that probably that fact alone would be the fatal check on the, not marriage material list.  I can't say that I am sad about this because the only meals I have to make for dogs comes in a bag, they will watch whatever I'm watching on TV and they have never seemed to care what I am wearing or what my hair looks like.  Plus, who else is going to be overjoyed every time I walk in the door?  So, my mom works with what she can get and treats Timmie like her grandson, which includes sleepovers and visits to grandma's house.  Plus, the Christmas list for the canine grandson is markedly cheaper than for those pesky human grandchildren that my brother insisted on producing.  And to my mom I simply say, you're welcome.  We will see how Timmie does with Alvin's new relationship with his grandma but for now he stands guard and herds Alvin away.  As if we need another obstacle to Alvin being touched.

We haven't been back to the dog park yet because of weather and other conflicts but the next time we go I am going to be prepared by first, making sure the darn park is open and also having kibble in my car that I can give Alvin during the three minute car ride.  One of our reader suggested that I might have stopped at McDonald's to get Alvin something on the day that I ruined his trip and I considered that at the time but then I realized that with three dogs in the car, if I were to introduce something as crazy-making as hamburgers into the car that they might start acting like piranhas and I would be forced to flee from my own car.  My other foster dog is blind and nearly deaf and so her sense of smell and taste is on over drive and Alvin is freakishly brave when it comes to food and so hamburger in the car could cause all kinds of problems. 

Speaking of Alvin being freakishly brave when it comes to food, I was sitting on my bed with my lap top today and my mom came over with food for me and Alvin must of anticipated what was going to go down and ran ahead of her and jumped up on the bed in hopes of deliver food to him in bed too.  He is downright rude when in the presence of food and it's as though he has had a miraculous emotional healing because not only is he not fearful but he tries to walk all over me - literally.  I have never encountered a dog that eats as fast as he does and then afterwords like clock-work comes his world class burp.  I am going to have to turn on the video camera so that I can tape his burp and post it here because it really rivals the burp of a Sumo wrestler. 

Speaking of being up on my bed,  I have been able to pick him up and plop him up on it a few times.  I wasn't doing that until very recently because in the past it was a source of anxiety for him and so I resisted my urge to put him up with the rest of us and let him initiate it by going up the stairs next to my bed that I put out for him.  The problem is that his back legs are quite weak from his knees that need to be surgically repaired and so sometimes I see that he wants to come up but it's such an effort for him.  So, in the past couple of days I have picked him up and plopped him up with us and he has chosen to lie down and sleep for a bit.  He no longer seems at all fearful of being up there.  He does stay on alert and will pop up if there is a slight movement or noise but he will then choose to lie back down instead of getting off the bed.  It is far easier for him to get off the bed then on and so if he stays on the bed it's his choice.  He still tends to do what I refer to as his puppy behavior, which pops up when he encounters something he is not used to yet.  He still gets his mischievous look and teeth's things.  He is never cuter then when he gets his puppy look.  I don't know if it's just me falling in love with him or if he is indeed getting cuter by the day but this dog is one of the cutest little beings I have ever seen. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First, do no harm

This is the oath of all social workers, therapists, and a bunch of other people.  There are times when one can't help, but at the very least one must not harm.  This was ringing in my ears on the way home from our failed attempt of going to the dog park today.  I decided that we would give the dog park another try and I brought out the leash and Alvin readily accepted it - good sign.  He did not want to get into the car but I hoped that if we took a bunch of car rides that ended up at the dog park he would start to get over his recent car trauma.  I had to stop off at the bank, which is on the way to the dog park for a very quick errand.  I came to realize that the only thing worse for Alvin than being in a car is to be in a car alone.  I couldn't have been gone for more than two minutes but I returned to find Alvin quivering and panting more than ever before.  I drove quickly to the dog park only to discover that apparently Tuesday is the day the dog park is closed.  I went into damage control trying to figure out how to make this clearly traumatic car ride worth it to him.  I  couldn't think of a darn thing that would make the situation better so I drove home, took everyone out of the car and walked them around the neighborhood, which isn't much of a treat and if Alvin has any analytical skills he quickly realized that there was no need to drive in the car to walk around the neighborhood.  I am going to give the dog park another try tomorrow but who knows if Alvin will have any part of the car tomorrow. 
When preparing to go to the dog park I decided not to put the Adopt Me bandanna on him because his eyes make him look freaky and ill.  Cathy at Camp Cocker repeatedly told me that the surgery would temporarily remove the pigment on his eyelids and that he would look weird.  She repeated this warning several times and because Cathy isn't a woman to repeat things I knew at the time that chances were good that he was going to look odd.  It was only today that the pigment really changed and I woke up to a dog with goopy, running eyes, and pink eyelids.  He looks a bit odd but more than anything it makes him look ill as though he has some rare tropical disease.  I decided this might not be the look we want to sport while trying to find an adoptive home for him.  I am just going to try to dodge any steely stares I might get from fellow dog owners that think I have brought my sick dog to socialize with their healthy dogs.  I would just wait it out but apparently the pigment will not come back for a few months.  So now I am going to have to try to find a home for a dog that needs double knee surgery, pink eyelids, and circles grooves into the floor.  Luckily I like challenges.  Alvin actually has a perfect person who would devote her whole life to him but she lives in a rent-controlled apartment and the landlord won't allow dogs.  It isn't an issue of just moving when she has a place where rent is significantly lower than in the rest of terribly expensive California so I am trying to figure out how we can disguise Alvin as a kid, a statue, a stuffed animal, or anything else that gets around that no dog policy.  It certainly makes me appreciate my landlord who told me when I moved in that they love animals and were very supportive of allowing me to have pets in their home.  What I appreciate even more is that they remodeled the house and knowing that I was the one moving in and that I was an animal lover, chose to put down tile through most of the house instead of carpet......I sing their praises every time Alvin gets a bit mixed up and goes to the bathroom just a foot from the wrong side of the door.  Apparently what side of the door to be on can be a very confusing ordeal.  Speaking of that issue, I have been so pleased with how well Alvin has done with house training.  In his last foster home he went potty in the house all the time for the first month and in preparation for that I closed the one carpeted bedroom door and didn't let him into the only other room with carpet but he has really been exceptional and the only accidents has been on the tile and for the most part he remembers which side of the door to go on.  I have been able to keep the door shut sometimes when it's been particularly cold and I have learned that when Alvin does a particular loop, which looks a bit frantic that he needs to go potty. 

Now if I could only remember to look at the schedule for the dog park and not terrorize him with a car ride only to end up walking him around his own neighborhood.  Clearly Alvin could benefit from his own blog writing about incompetent foster parents and the patience required to deal with their issues and failures.  Now that would be a blog worth reading!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Alvin Says, Just Say No!

I decided that we should take another trip to the dog park because we haven't been for a while and a new dog park opened close to my home.  Alvin wasn't too keen about having his leash put on which should have been my first clue.  I tried to put his Adopt Me bandanna on and that was a definite no go.  I only have one of the Adopt Me bandannas right now so I figured I would put it on my other dog, Stevie who wasn't having it either.  Clearly a conspiracy has been launched.  I took them out of the car and I felt a tug like a fish on the line and I turned around and Alvin has planted his tiny little bottom on the concrete and has his head turned up to the sky in an effort to resist being pulled even a more inch.  Alvin had absolutely no intention of getting in the car.  We had made some progress with Alvin's fear of car rides but I think after driving him a total of six hours and making him get touched, held, prodded, poked, and caged, he is completely over the car.  Alvin went back to his bugged eyed, panting, seizure-looking stance, and wouldn't that have been the one time that I would get lost and make a three-minute car ride longer?  The good news is that he is GREAT about getting out of the car.  We went to the new dog park and there were so many dogs there and they all seemed playful and well-behaved.  Alvin pretty much stayed to himself other than when he finally located the person with treats in his pocket.  Alvin could have a tremendous future in search and rescue as long as the person had treats in their pocket.  Alvin always generates a lot of conversation because he is just so darn cute.  I did manage to get his Adopt Me bandanna on him after we got to the park but then I looked up and he had managed to get it back off.  He is not being terribly cooperative in the adoption department but I just know that there is his perfect person out there.  I made a short video at the dog park of Alvin's foster sister, Stevie in an effort to try to raise some funds for her cataract surgery so she can see again and while posting it on Stevie's facebook page I noticed Alvin in it and realized that he was afraid at the dog park and I didn't know it at the time.  I am posting the link to Stevie's fb page in case anyone wants to see Alvin in the video.  I didn't even intend to video him but he walked up.  I am learning that one of the subtler ways he shows fear or anxiety is to have his mouth open just a bit like he has on the video.  He gets that worried look and opens his mouth.  It might not interest most of you but if any of you want to take a look, you can get an idea of what I am talking about.  I am going to have to watch him more closely to see if the dog park is actually a source of stress for him.  Here is the link to Stevie's facebook page and the video is the most recent post:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100002758301313

One of our readers asked if I could get someone to assist me in giving Alvin's eye drops and although it would seem as though that would be helpful, I think with Alvin being so little and such a whirling dervish that another body might just get in the way........okay, so the truth is that I look like an idiot during the process and I don't need a witness.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I think I pulled a hamstring putting in eye drops

Putting eye drops into Alvin's eyes could be a new event for the 2012 London Olympics.  I still question the fact that the vet staff managed to give me the eye drop instructions with a straight face.  I have learned that the best strategy is to stretch and run in place first in an effort to be warmed up and limber so that hopefully I won't pull a muscle during the Alvin wrestling event.  We have definitely had a time of it and a human being can't feel worse about themselves then when traumatizing Alvin to the point that his teeth chatter.  I don't know what the alternative is though because he has to have them and short of sedating him twice a day, we have to partake in this exercise of horrors.  I was told to keep giving them to him until the bottle runs out but I don't think they were thinking that the bottle would run out tomorrow but we have wasted quite a bit with the drops going flying and landing goodness knows where.  Why do they have to make the eye drops clear because wow, does that make it a whole other challenge to see if they actually made it in the eye.  I don't even want to think about having to go through all of this again if he has to have a second eye surgery.  Alvin's eyes are starting to look better, although when he wakes up in the morning his eyes are nearly swollen shut, which is definitely to his benefit because I take one look at him and end up spoiling him the rest of the day. 

Having gone through this with him, I am realizing that he really needs to have his double knee surgery soon.  When Alvin was first rescued his back knees were so bad that he walked like a duck and his back knees touched each other.  He had surgery and although the surgery helped, it wasn't able to correct them enough and he has to have it again.  This came as a HUGE disappointment for two reasons.  The most important one is the pain that Alvin is going to have to go through again and the long recovery.  Second, is the expense of it.  It's going to cost about $4,000.  UGH!  He doesn't seem to be in pain, which has allowed the surgery to be put off but his back legs are weak, he walks funny, and if it isn't corrected then he will have really bad arthritis later in life.  The concern is that someone has to be home with Alvin for at least the first two weeks.  The time would be now because I am unemployed but I can't stay that way for much longer.  I can't see starting a new job and then asking for two weeks off for a dog surgery.  I can only imagine how impressive that would sound in an interview.  I think it would be a disaster to have Alvin go some where else to recuperate.  On the other hand, I so don't want to do it.  It's going to be so painful for him and he is going to have to have me picking him up and carrying him a lot and he can't freak out and ruin the surgeon's work.  The entire recuperation is 12 weeks long with most of it on cage rest.  This little guy just can't catch a break.  I think the rescue Camp Cocker is going to start fund-raising for him soon and I may start to try to help raise funds too.  I guess I should start counting my blessings that right now all I have to do is participate in the aerobic activity of administering eye drops to a small but freakishly strong dog.  I thought that we would only be dealing with emotional recovery but I guess it's a good thing that he has progressed enough that we can start addressing his physical needs.  I just can't quite picturing him doing his little loops with two rear casts on.  It's not going to be boring around here for a long time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Alvin's Gone International

One of the features on this blog allows me to see which country readers are from and I have been so surprised at the number of international readers and the countries people are from: Lebanon, Jordan, Russia, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, United Kingdom, Brazil, Poland, Colombia, and Thailand.  I don't know why the French are giving us the cold shoulder but it wouldn't be a good blog without a bit of international controversy.  If any of you are ever so inclined, including readers in the United States, please leave a comment letting the other readers know anything you wish to share.  Thank you to all of you who come here and read about Alvin's ongoing adventures.

So, now to the star of the show, Alvin.  Oh boy!  Poor guy, he looks like a boxer on the wrong end of a boxing match because his eyes are slits today due to the swelling but this does not stop him from keeping his schedule of sitting and staring at me for hours.  Due to his swelling, it looks like he has either fallen asleep sitting up or is very stoned and the only way I can tell that he is still awake is when his head turns.  He was particularly cuddly last night, which surprised me because I really thought that he would be standoffish due to the fact that I drove him to his own version of hell and back.  I imagine he was either still quite drugged from the medication or that we now share a trauma bond.  When I worked with abused children it was not uncommon to see children very attached to their abuser and it is referred to as a trauma bond.  The idea is that due to heightened emotions the victim shares while with the abuser, as well as the isolation the victim feels towards others, they form an unhealthy attachment to the person that harmed them.  Last night when Alvin was so affectionate and trusting, I could only roll my eyes and feel like the perpetrator for willingly taking him through so many scary events in one day.  Between long car rides, people touching him, being in enclosed spaces, and coming out with eye lids the size of golf balls, I have sufficiently started a great foundation for a long-lasting trauma bond.  Now I have to give him eye drops twice a day.......picture that one.  When they told me I just stared at them, wondering if they were hearing their words and thinking through what they had seen in Alvin.  For goodness sake, hours before we were all on the floor on all fours trying to hold him down so he could be examined because being on the table was too much for him but these same people somehow think that I am going to single-handedly hold him still enough to get eye drops in those slits for eyes?  Yesterday the vet ended up spending about three minutes with him, walking out without comment and reappearing right away with a syringe in hand to sedate him way ahead of schedule, but apparently I am supposed to have super powers that they didn't possess.

Through all of this I am assuming that Alvin is going to feel way better then he did.  I am going to call the vet's office today to find out a bit more about what the doctor thinks about how much pain and discomfort he was in before the surgery because I wonder if that could have been partially responsible for some of his behavior and not wanting his head or face touched.  We all know what it feels like to have one eye lash brushing against our eye but apparently he had tons of them.  There's a good possibility he is going to have to go through this procedure again and my guess is that after that one he will come home, pack his bones, and get on out of here.  Poor guy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alvin's video debut

video



It hurts to look at but he is going to feel so much better when the swelling clears up.

Alvin's Home

We are finally home safe and sound.  Alvin's eyes are so swollen and he reminds me of a character from the Simpson's because he has those same kind of bulging eyes due to the swelling on his lower and upper eye lids.  He had a lot of eye lashes and will probably have to have the procedure again.  He was drugged up and had swollen eyes but that did not stop him from looking for food in the car for nearly the whole ride home.  For now he is resting and I am going to do the same.  It was a long day!

Alvin's in Surgery

I would love to say that we left at the crack of dawn this morning but the dawn did not begin to crack until we were an hour down the road.  Alvin spent most of the ride trying to find food because I couldn't feed him this morning.  Looking for food seemed to take his mind off of being afraid of driving in the car.  He quickly realized that he had spent three hours in the car to come to his worst nightmare because once again there was an enclosed room, people holding him, and finally getting a shot.  They ended up sedating him right away and I am assuming they did it so quickly because he was a nervous wreck.  Apparently he has a lot of eye lashes rubbing against his eye and he may have to have two surgeries.  I will know more when he is out of surgery.

The brightest news of the day came because I brought my other foster dog, Stevie along for the ride.  Cathy at Camp Cocker suggested that Stevie get an eye exam since we were going to Fresno anyway.  Stevie is completely blind due to cataracts and it looks like she has been blind for probably many years.  She was seen in the past by an eye doctor and he didn't think she was a candidate for cataract surgery but today, this eye doctor said she is.  This came as a complete surprise and I continue to get teary every time I think about it because one of my favorite life experiences was the one time I got to see a blind dog see for the first time.  I had adopted an old, blind dog and never even knew cataract surgery was an option for him.  I ended up taking him to the eye doctor that I am at right now and he performed the surgery on him.  When a dog has cataract surgery, they see right away and when I went in to see my dog, he ended up jumping up to my face and brushing against my face with his face and he just stayed there and kept looking and brushing against me.  It is something so extraordinary to get to experience.  So, I will start trying to help Camp Cocker fundraise.  I am so hoping that Alvin only needs the one surgery so that Camp Cocker doesn't have to raise additional money for Alvin.  Whatever the case, I just know that the money will come in and that there will be one dog that will have her sight restored and one dog that won't have painful eyes anymore.  Now, that makes for a great day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Little Alvin's Big Day

Alvin's having his eye surgery tomorrow.  We are having to leave here at 5:30 AM to make the three hour drive.  I think we may get stuck in a lot of rush hour traffic on the way back and so I probably won't be able to report back until later in the evening tomorrow.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I feel like a television

The shear amount of hours that Alvin spends sitting quietly and staring at me is staggering.  He watches me like a human watches television.  I often feel the need to be more entertaining for him but it seems not to matter what I do, he stares just the same.  I have let myself ponder this to the absurd, wondering if maybe I am just a particularly fascinating person and only Alvin is perceptive enough to realize this hidden fact about me.  Then my mom comes over and my bubble doesn't burst, but rather completely explodes because I no longer exist in his world and he won't let her out of his sight.  Any attempts on my part to get his attention are met with a quick glance and then he goes back to mooning over her.  Whatever the case, I cannot get over how long he sits and stares and that he only stops when his eye lids grow heavy and he can no longer stay awake.  When I am in my bedroom Alvin sits in front of my full length mirror and watches me through the reflection, while habitually turning his head to make sure that I am the same person as the reflection in the mirror.  I wonder what it is that he finds so fascinating in human beings?  I really wonder why he still wants anything to do with human beings when he has so clearly had them let him down?
We went to the vet on Saturday to get his blood drawn because he will be going under anesthesia for his eye surgery on Thursday.  Getting blood drawn at the vet's office was a triple whammy for Alvin because he is afraid of enclosed rooms, terrified of being held, and scared of being up off the ground.  You can imagine how fun it was to hold him for a blood draw.  The vet said it broke his heart because ittle Alvin was so afraid his teeth were chattering.  We will be driving a total of about six hours on Thursday for his eye surgery because it cost about one-third to do it in Fresno than what it costs in the bay area of California.  I'm not looking forward to the drive for him but I imagine he will be drugged up and relaxed on the way back.  I am so happy he can get his eye surgery because I think he is going to feel so much better.  My vet saw Alvin in September and commented at the time what odd behaviors he had but this time he commented how much better he seemed.  That was very nice to hear. 

I did attempt to recreate our experience on the floor with him sleeping on me but we have not had that level of success since.  One night I was left pitifully on the floor by myself while feebly calling, "Alvin honey come here."  The other two nights he was able to lay down near me but not like before.  I noticed that on the couple nights that he laid close to me that the tongue came back out, he began teething me, and generally engaged in the behavior he does when trying something new.  He has managed to climb up on the bed a couple more times and he continues to clearly want to be included.  I have found that he has started to have cuddly moods where he will come and seek out physical contact.  He has been out of sorts for the past couple days and he started circling quite a bit.  I have had to call his name to get him out of his loop because he gets fixated.  I could not figure out what was wrong and I knew he was reacting to something.  My mom was gone this weekend and the minute she came over tonight he stopped circling and he is glued to her.  I don't know for sure that it was her absence but considering how much Alvin hones in on human beings and is particularly drawn to her, it may be that he missed her.  It is very clear that nothing escapes Alvin's notice - how could it?  He never stops staring.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm floored

If you have followed along you know that most of Alvin's progress has occurred with me on the ground with him.  For the past week or two I haven't been on the floor with him very much for no other reason than it's not very comfortable down there.  I also noticed because Alvin is such a creature of habit that he was identifying my bedroom as the petting room and was far more skittish in the other rooms.  I have sat on the floor in the living room a few times and he has done pretty well but as we enter normalcy I have been on the floor less and less.  Last night I was reflecting that there haven't been many breakthroughs lately and I got a bit discouraged because he has so far to go.  I started to wonder if this was close to the most he was going to be able to accept human touch.  I decided to go back to what was working best and I laid down on the floor.  It was as uncomfortable as I remembered but within minutes it was very well worth it.  Alvin started doing his circling but it was the normal dog circling that dogs do when they are getting ready to lay down.  His circling got closer and closer to me and I found myself nearly holding my breath, hoping for what would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago.  Alvin very purposefully laid down with his body pressing against my legs and put his little chin on my leg.  I was so excited but I knew if I moved a muscle that he would be up on full alert.  It is during those times that I think I imagine my legs itching and feel all kinds of involuntary twitches.  Poor Alvin was just trying to sleep but I kept accidentally moving and disrupting him.  We went through this exercise seven times and five out of the seven he chose to lay with his whole body pressing against me.  I cheated on the two times he chose to lay a ways a way from me and did something that made him jump up so that he would have to lay down again.  I finally decided to call it a day when he laid against my stomach and fell asleep with his head on my chest.  Someone who isn't an animal lover could not possible understand how amazing that moment felt and I dare say that many animal lovers wouldn't get it either, but for me this was our biggest day!  It is becoming increasingly clear that Alvin really wants human contact but his fear is often too great and it deprives him of the comfort of touch.  Watching him sleeping on my chest last night made me know that he is going to get there.  Up until now I have been very happy with his progress but I didn't know if we would ever get to where he would choose human contact and would be able to trust enough to fall asleep.  So, I'll be back on the floor tonight.  I have also come to the realization that we need to find Alvin an adopter that has a futon or just really loves to sleep on the floor. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Treat time has never been so dangerous

I previously wrote about Alvin's obsession with food and although many of his behaviors have tapered off, his reaction to food is still a sight to behold.  In the presence of food he becomes an entirely different dog and is bold and well, completely crazy.  He continues to have a hard time managing bites of food and sometimes he is able to bite down correctly and sometimes he has to repeatedly spit the food out because he seems to forget how to bite down.  For the life of me, I can't figure that one out.  His food lunacy, coupled with his confusion of when to bite down has led to treat time being any one's guess as to if I am going to come out of it with all my fingers.  It's really become the Russian Roulette of the dog world.  One would think the obvious answer would be to eliminate treats but my other foster dog takes a medication before bedtime and although she literally will eat anything edible, she refuses to eat her chewable pill and so I have to bury it in a piece of hot dog, which has led to everyone getting a piece of hot dog before bedtime.  The other obvious solution would be that I would not hand feed the piece of hot dog to Alvin but with my very obvious ADHD, along with being able to hand feed two dogs, I often just automatically put my hand down there and sometimes it goes great and sometimes I end up jerking my hand away, while swearing loudly and frantically looking for blood on my hand and a finger on the floor.  Between Alvin insisting of running into my legs and running circles around me while I try to walk and lunging for my fingers when treats are present, I am going to be fortunate if I come out of all of this with no body parts missing or broken.  The irony is that this is the dog normally so afraid of hands and yet put a bit of food in one and not only will he readily approach but he will put it halfway down his throat.  I so very much wish his otherwise fear of hands could be transferred to a fear of feet because his complete lack of fear of feet has led to me doing many of those multiple hopping trips where I repeatedly stumble over Alvin and end up kicking him around.  I can't properly articulate how bad I feel when I accidentally scare or hurt Alvin and to basically drop kick him across the room makes me feel like a monster but then I look down and there he is right back for more.  I have heard of Velcro dogs but Alvin requires his own definition because if I even move a leg he is up running towards me and gets in his circle weave position.  I find that I am reluctant to adjust my body at all because after having a dog run towards me over and over again it begins to drive home the point that I am sitting on my butt too much.  Yet, the couch is one of the only places where I can ensure that I won't fall and break a leg, lose a finger, or kick a dog.  Let's all just keep hoping that Alvin doesn't decide he likes being on the couch because then I will have no safe haven.

My birthday went to the dogs

I am hoping that Alvin enjoyed my recent birthday because most of my presents were in some way for him.  I asked for dog stairs for my birthday and my mom gave them to me early.  They have been very helpful and I have enjoyed watching all three dogs utilize them.  The one that may be benefiting the most is my blind foster dog, Stevie.  I was gone last night and Stevie usually goes outside and waits for me but I came home last night to find that she had climbed the stairs and put herself to bed for the evening.  My mom also got me a sweat shirt for the dog park that says, Ask Me About My Foster Dog but I am a bit afraid to wear it because I am not sure I want to encourage people to articulate their questions about Alvin as he is running around me in circles like a kid's party pony.  Last, I received in the mail a birthday package which had a battery operated toy, which consisted of a weasel attached to a ball.  The ball rolls around and it looks like the weasel is pushing it.  Timmie hid behind me, Alvin was curious but cautious and it was the cat that came in and kicked a bit of weasel butt.  As always, the cat remains the most courageous of all of them. 

My Christmas will also be devoted to the dogs because I have asked for grooming clippers to be able to groom Stevie and my dog, Timmie.  I am not going to attempt to groom Alvin because one can't even count all the ways that could go wrong.  I do worry that my grooming Stevie could take away any last hope of Stevie finding an adoptive home because first, I have no idea how to groom a dog.  Second, I have a complete lack of natural ability to do my own hair.  Third, I lack the essential grooming attributes of patience, artistic vision, and an attention small longer than a gnat.  Nothing about me having clippers near a living being is a good idea but what would Christmas be without at least one mishap?  So, as you're gathered with your family and friends this Christmas remember us here with me using clipper like a chainsaw and two very special dogs getting never before seen hair cuts for Christmas.  

On another note, Alvin has taken up landscaping.  He has started to eat little leaves.  It isn't every little leaf but just one once in a while.  Just like everything else, Alvin is a mystery because it's just once in a while that he finds one he wants to eat, while others hold no temptation for him.  If he is going to be a leaf-eating dog then I wish he would fully commit to it because it's Fall and I have plenty of little leaves that need to be raked or eaten and since I hold no hope of Alvin learning to rake, he needs to get to chomping.