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.