Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


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.


  1. I knew this blog would be great !!
    Keep up the good work !!


  2. Hi, Janet. I so love reading about Alvin, Timmie and Stevie. I lost my Cocker, Pebbles a few months ago and have been lurking at Zim forums, Camp Cocker and following your blog. Reading about other Cocker Spaniels helps me feel a little less lonely. Thank you for sharing.