Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Everybody Loves Alvin

Please forgive me for not updating sooner.  We have all been quite busy with holiday guests, parties, and also Alvin's foster sister, Stevie's cataract surgery.  We have so much to report and I will try to fill you all in on at least some of it, with other posts to follow.

You may want to sit down for the first update because it's likely to blow your socks clean off.  I groomed Alvin, and by grooming I mean with clippers and everything.  I really didn't mean to groom him but I got clippers and a how-to video for Christmas because I figured I could learn and then start grooming my dog, Timmie and my foster dog, Stevie.  I hadn't even considered trying to do Alvin after our bathtub fiasco.  Timmie is an unusually compliant dog and although the clippers scared him, he stood as still as could be and even rolled over on his back, with his legs pointed to the sky while I shaved his belly.  While doing all of this, Alvin literally had his nose on the clipper handle and seemed mesmerized by it.  I then thought, well what the heck.  How bad could it be?  I had been talking to Cathy at Camp Cocker about getting Alvin groomed and was really at a loss because it scares him so much to be up on a table and then to be touched all over by a stranger in a closed was liable to cause him to go on doggy Prozac for the rest of his life.  Cathy wanted to pay for a groomer to come to the house so that he would be in a familiar setting with me there, but then when he was so darn interested in the clippers I decided to give it a whirl.  I can't say that he liked it but he was on the floor, in his favorite room, with me doing just a little at a time.  So far I have been able to shave his back, his ears inside and out, his face, and his head, with a top knot included.  While he was sleeping I was able to scissor his front paws.  Being able to groom his face was the major victory because his eyes are watering as much as they did before his eye surgery and he develops a yeast infection on his skin underneath his eyes.  I took him back to the eye doctor who prescribed eye drops for him twice a day.  I am still astonished that the man can keep a straight face when telling me to put eye drops into Alvin's eyes twice a day.  We have been doing it but his eyes continue to water just as much.  Being able to shave the fur on his face down helps keep the skin dry, which is a help.  Grooming Alvin is pretty funny to observe because we do it on the floor, in my bedroom and he wiggles around.  With that said, he looks pretty darn cute.  I still have to figure out a way to blend his skirt and also trim his legs and chest with scissors, which may then result in the end of him looking cute.  After the second night of grooming him, he was pretty upset with me and I finally had to go close the back door because he insisted on staying outside, with just his head peaking through and would just stare at me with the most pitiful look.  Of course, I feel horrible but he does seem to forgive me every time and I know what the alternative would be.  We are taking a couple days off to let him emotionally recoup.  After I closed the door the one night, I put him up on the bed with me when we were going to bed and he started all of that lounging, puppy teething behavior and it was the most pronounced it had ever been.  He was actually panting a bit and I have learned that when Alvin has his mouth open even a little bit it is a sign that he is stressed out. I can now look at Alvin and know how he is feeling.  For those of you who have been following from the beginning, you may recall that I was at a loss to figure out what he was communicating and how to know when he was upset, but I have learned Alvin's language pretty well and there are very few times now when I don't know what he is feeling.  With all of that said, I can't believe how good his grooming looks and it has made me wonder if one of three things:

1. Grooming is easier than I thought that it would be.

2. I am naturally gifted at grooming dogs.

3. The most likely scenario - that I am suffering from a delusional disorder that convinces me that he looks much better than he actually does.  You all are probably familiar with this particularly delusional disorder.  It's the one where you see a person that just looks hideous and you question how they looked in the mirror and decided that they looked great when in actuality they don't.  But something inside of the person allowed them to momentarily part with reality and see themselves looking far better than they actually look.  I suspect that when I look at Alvin I see him looking groomed in a way that doesn't reflect reality but whatever the case, I think he looks cute as a button.  (Notice the absence of pictures in this post)

Speaking of communication, we have the potty signal down to a science.  Alvin doesn't know how to go to the door and signal that he has to go.  He won't go potty until the very moment when he can't hold it any longer and so it doesn't matter if I put him out two minutes beforehand, Alvin only goes when he really has to go.  He does this unmistakable bug eyed look, while frantically circling and I jump up and open the back door and out he goes.  This has been extremely appreciated because it allows me to keep the back door closed and so we are all no longer freezing our butts off.  He does know how to hold it when it comes to being on the bed with me at night.  I have a plastic mattress cover just in case, but he has never gone on the bed and sleeps with my throughout the night.  I do leave the back door open at night because Stevie is an older gal and she gets up in the night to go and I don't always hear her.  This has resulted in the house being quite chilly at night and so lately Alvin has been curling up into a little ball and sleeping in the crook of my neck or against my body right underneath my underarm.  There is no cuter sight then Alvin curled up in a ball sound asleep.  I do have an electric blanket under the comforter and the other two dogs prefer to sleep on that because it radiates warmth up to them, and although Alvin is still leery of being touched during the day, at night he plasters himself against me.  I love that he does that and it's my reward for having him here.

On a less cheery note, Alvin will be having his knees surgery on January 6th.  There were people on here that donated money and between those donations and Camp Cocker selling a calender, the proceeds cover Alvin's surgery.  He very much needs the surgery but I am becoming increasingly apprehensive about it.  It's double knee surgery and it's going to hurt.  The idea of Alvin in pain upsets me.  I also have to manage to keep him off his feet as much as possible for at least the first two weeks.  That may not sound daunting but Alvin is a pacer and a big time pacer when confined.  His anxiety seems to trump anything else and so I worry very much about trying to keep him relaxed enough to lie down.  I am hoping the surgeon sends us home with an adequate amount of sedatives because I fear that without them that Alvin could circle himself to the point of harm.  Whatever the case, we are going to get through this.  Once we get through Alvin's knee surgery, my mom will be having her first knee done.  Unfortunately, there are laws against me putting her in a crate while she recuperates.

There is much more to report but I will close with this, I am realizing that Alvin is the most popular being in this house.  The cat loves him and wants to figure out how to get him to cuddle with her.  Stevie seems to like him okay but the real achievement is that Timmie really likes Alvin.  Timmie is nearly pathologically jealous of any animal getting any of my attention but he rarely seems to mind when Alvin gets my attention.  Timmie shares with Alvin and has a whole different set of rules for him then the rules he has for Stevie and Maddie.  Every once in a while Timmie gets the idea in his head that he wants to play with Alvin but because both of them are socially delayed, it comes off as a confusing mess.  Timmie is like a bull in a china closet when trying to play and he starts running and leaping in ways that look more like he is having a seizure and Alvin just tries to get the hell out of dodge.  It doesn't seem to scare Alvin as much as he just seems very confused and wants no part of that show.  But Timmie has found his little sidekick and whenever Timmie runs to explore something there is Alvin right behind him.  I am happy for Timmie because most dogs just don't take him seriously and Timmie takes himself very seriously, and now he has finally found someone gullible enough to follow him in all of his misadventures.  My mom likes Alvin and my dad recently visited and met Alvin as well (more discussion on that later), and he was also a bit smitten by him.  I realized that everybody loves Alvin because he is just too sweet and innocent not to love.

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