Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Potty Training 101

Alvin is doing well but we are back to square one with potty training.  When he could barely walk I wasn't concerned if he went to the bathroom in his x-pen but he seemed to miss the point that potty was only in the x-pen and we are back to him going in the house.  Luckily, it has only been on the tile but now we are going to have to start over.  It's worse this time because I caught him right when he first came here and he learned kind of quickly not to go in the house.  Now since he has gone in the house he seems to view the living room as his personal toilet.  Fantastic! 

He is off the sedatives because I couldn't drug him for the full 12 weeks.  He is still walking far too much but I can only do so much to prevent it.  He does best when I put him in my bed but I can't stay in bed all the time, no matter how tempting.

A great side benefit to his surgery is that he is allowing me to touch him much more.  When he was sedated I spent a lot of time scratching his back and his head, which are the two areas he has been most fearful of being touched.  When he is in bed with me he allows me to scratch his back and head as much as I want.  We have been practicing a lot because I know a potential adopter will actually want a dog they can touch.  So, at night I sling my arm over him and lay my head on him and he takes it like a champ.  He is also starting to let me scratch him back and head in other parts of the house.  He gets much more shy in the other rooms because I am not lying down with him but we are definitely getting there. 

The house has been disrupted lately because my dog Timmie came down with severe pneumonia and had to be hospitalized.  He was gravely ill but after a surgical procedure to get the pus out of his lungs, IV antibiotics, and being in an oxygen chamber for two days, it looks like he will make it.  Before he was hospitalized I had him in my bedroom with a high steam vaporizer.  He started huffing and puffing and Alvin just stood on the floor staring at him for hours.  He had a concerned look on his face.  I am posting a picture of Timmie and Alvin a few days before Timmie got sick.  Alvin is the one getting crushed and Timmie is the one posing for the camera.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dog the Bounty Hunter

Alvin has recently taken a liking to watching TV.  He goes up to the TV, puts his nose on it, watches for a moment, and then catches it again on every one of his loops.  I think if we all did this type of workout when watching TV we would be a very physically fit nation.  He has taken a particular liking to Dog the Bounty Hunter, which is of course so cute that there aren't even words.  He likes a lot of action on the screen. 

Alvin seems to be a happier dog since the surgery.  I don't know if it can be attributed to the sedatives but even when he's not on them he just seems to be happier.  I wonder if he was in pain and I didn't know.  It was always a question because from the anatomy of his knees, he should have been in pain but I watched him very carefully and he never showed it or favored his back legs.  Even when the vet would manipulate his back legs, he didn't wince or cry.  I would think that he would be in pain now from the surgery but he doesn't appear to be and I don't even have him on pain medication at this point.  I don't know what it is but he just seems happier, which makes me happier. 

He has become far more receptive to all kinds of touch and now allows me to pet him over his head and on his back.  I took full advantage of him being mellow from the sedatives and spent a great deal of time scratching and petting his back and his head, which he seemed to really enjoy.  Now, even when he is not on sedatives he is allowing me to pet his head and back.  He is still a bit skittish but he seems to enjoy it and allows it.  If this is the side benefit to the surgery than I am very grateful. 

Last night Alvin slept by my head all night and ended up sleeping in for a long time this morning.  I couldn't believe how much sleep we all got.  I only gave him a sedative once today and he has managed to stay lying down for a good part of the day.  Of course, he had his looping moments......well, looping hours but he can't that be on sedatives all day, every day indefinitely.  We are going to the vet tomorrow to have his stitches removed and I will consult with him as to what to do about the sedatives.  I think it would be best to start tapering but to have some on hand for when he is up way too long and won't settle down. 

Today when Alvin was up too long and wouldn't lie down, I put him on my bed because that is a sure way to make him lie down.  He went to get his dog bed that I have on my bed and unfortunately I had shoved it too close to the wall.  When he was in the bed and stepped to the back, the bed started falling into that gap between the bed and the wall.  If he had fallen into the gap, that would have been a potential disaster both physically and mentally for him and I overreacted and grabbed the bed and started sliding it really fast across the bed to safety.  Luckily, it was the only time today I had given Alvin a sedative but his eyes got huge as he found himself magically sliding across the bed.  If Alvin could swear he looked like he was saying, "what the hell is going on?"  Since he was mellow his little eyes just bulged and after coming to a stop, he looked all around to make sure the bed was still there and then laid down and went to sleep.  This kind of thing would have flipped him out if he had been "sober."  It's a miracle I haven't wrecked this dog for life.

Speaking of overreacting, last night Timmie tried to play with Alvin, which consists of basically jumping on him.  Alvin reacted by leaping back, which is no good on those legs and before I could think, I yelled at Timmie to stop.  Poor Timmie must have jumped about two feet in the air and ran to me looking horrified.  I usually encourage Timmie to play but that is very off limits for the next 10 weeks.  I think I scared him so much that he may never try to play with Alvin again.  I am just a regular killjoy around this place.

I'll keep you all posted but I think things are definitely looking up around here.  Now, if we can just find a marathon of Dog the Bounty Hunter, Alvin will be one happy dog!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Held Hostage by the Cutest Captor in the World

Alvin definitely rules this house.  He determines when I move, walk, and stand.  Today I tried not to give him a sedative because I can't keep him sedated for 12 weeks and I need to start finding other alternative.  I stayed in bed and the other two dogs willingly obliged by happily getting cozy and spending the day snoozing away.  Did I mention that this required me to stay in bed and try not to move?  I did a lot of reading but kept falling to sleep because what else was there to do?  Alvin did quite did quite a bit of sleeping but ironically slept the least of all of us.  When I finally couldn't take it anymore and got up, Alvin was back up and doing his best tap dance routine throughout the whole house.  I finally gave him a sedative two hours ago and he is just now settling in to sleep.  He started to settle in a few times but the minute I stood up, he was back up and moving, while taking a good 20 minutes to start settling down again.  So, now I have my butt practically glued to the couch and will only move if one of those infamous California earthquakes starts up. 

Last night Alvin just wouldn't settle down and had been up walking for hours.  It seems that when my mom is here he can't get himself to settle down.  He appears to be completely charmed and dazzled by her.  He reacts to her by wanting to stand and sniff her for long periods of time and then wants to run circles around her chair.  I finally asked her if she could go home for about a half an hour until he fell asleep and then come back over to finish watching what we had been watching on TV.  It was very cold outside and as the request was coming out of my mouth I realized how ridiculous it all sounded. 

Earlier in the evening I had left Alvin for the first time to do a home check for a couple that want to adopt a dog from Camp Cocker.  I had given Alvin a good dose of sedative and left him with my mom.  I came home an hour-and-a-half later to find out that he had been up the whole time, with the exception of the last 20 minutes.  My poor mom had followed instruction and had stayed seated and non-moving the whole time.  It's amazing that one, itty bitty dog can dictate everything down to the movements of all the humans in the house. 

I finally was able to put my finger on what it is about Alvin that makes him so endearing.  I have previously discussed that he is the most innocent, pure being I have ever known.  He doesn't bark, it doesn't seem to cross his mind to ever bite or snap.  He doesn't mark when out on walks, and urinates like a female dog.  He is completely submissive and will share anything with anyone.  With all this said, I could not come up with a comparision until last night.  He reminds me of a child between the ages of 18 months to about two-years-old.  You know how kids that age are so delightful and even when they're being naughty it isn't really naughty because they are still in that very innocent stage?  How everything they do tends to be filled with love and they are just so utterly charming and engaging?  That's Alvin.  If kids stayed in that stage I might have been willing to create one or two of them but then they grow up to be less innocent and charming.  Alvin seems to be perpetually in that stage.  With the exception of his walking around thing that might suck my will to live, he is always filled with such innocence and charm.  There's not another dog like him!  I have to keep this in mind when I find myself held captive in my own bed or on my own couch.  11 days down and only 73 days to go.  Forget sedating him, just shoot me with a dart gun and wake me when it's over.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dear Alvin,

I want to tell you how sorry I am that you had to go through that horrible surgery but let's establish one central fact -  it wasn't my idea.  I was just the driver and otherwise, you can consider me the "other victim" in this situation.  I will keep my promise that if anyone tells us that you need to have another surgery that I will pack your bones and we will get the heck out of dodge.  We may have to go under some type of disguise so that they won't recognize us.  We can't really turn you into a German Shepard so you will probably need to pose as a dog that loves to be touched because that will really throw anyone off. 

With my innocence established let's move onto the next issue.  It is hard on my self esteem when you keep running away from me like your tail's on fire.  I am not always up to some type of trickery to get you to take yet another pill.  Okay, so I usually am but there is always that one time out of ten when I am totally innocent.  Please act accordingly.  I am wondering how long you think you are going to remain upset at me because I am fearful that if I take you to the dog park when you get better that you may find the first dog owner and try to scoot out with a stranger.  In the meantime, I am having to keep you sedated because of your insistence of doing your best circus poodle act throughout the house.  The side benefit is that if I keep you groggy you can't run down the street to the neighbors and make a plea for help from the mean, drug pushing lady.  All you would have to do is bat those doe-like eyes and there are a whole host of people who would take you but I would like you to stay here, in this house of horrors as you seem to currently view it.  I hate to break it to you but grandma isn't going to take you home with her.  I see that your hope for this springs eternal but you ruined it with your propensity to practically walk on her feet and cause her to trip on a regular basis.  Between the two of you with your collective six knees you only share two good ones and neither of you can risk injuring them further.  Also, I have already weathered some of the storm with your physical rehab and I am about to head into helping grandma with her recovery from her impending first knee surgery.  One person can only deal with so much.  I have seen grandma on pain meds and she is about as manageable as you are under the influence.  Yes, there is an argument for sending you both packing next door and letting you fend for yourselves through a haze of prescribed medication but inevitably when you both manage to fall over one another, I would only be able to be at one ER.  So, you're stuck with me buddy.  Sorry to break it to you but it's just you and me, kid (and Timmie, Stevie, and Maddie).  You're not only living in this nut house but you are playing a central role in this crazy circus we call our life.  You'll thank me someday, or maybe not.

Your humble servant (or torturer as you seem to view it),
Janet White

Little Alvin's Big Nap

I am happy to report that Alvin is sleeping far more and therefore, is staying off his feet much more.  We went to the vet on Thursday and he thought that his legs looked great.  This vet was very pessimistic about him having the surgery because his knees were so bad that he didn't think anyone could adequately correct them.  When he saw him on Thursday he just kept looking at them and kept saying how impressed he was.  I really value my vet's opinion and it helped make the horrible past few days worth it........well, not worth it but it helped.  He got his fenantyl patch off and will continue on his anti-inflammatory and sedatives.  I would hope we wouldn't have to do the sedatives much longer but I just don't know how to keep this little guy off his feet otherwise.  What he needs to do is to get up to go potty, go to the bathroom, walk around for no more than five minutes and then lie down again.  I can't manage anything close to that even on sedatives.  I would need a dart gun to get those results but we will stay with the sedatives for now.  The vet told me that the sedative is very good if given before the anxiety sets in but if it's given after the anxiety starts then they tend not to be able to calm down.  Since hearing this very crucial information I have been giving it to him at regular intervals he has been much calmer.  I look at him all curled up in a comfy bed, sleeping peacefully and I think it looks like a pretty good life.  They needed to give a human version of that when sending Alvin home with me. 
I recently posted on a cocker spaniel board called Zim forum when I was in the depths of despair as to how to get Alvin to quit doing his best impression of a circus poodle throughout my house.  I got so many amazing suggestions and I so regret having not posted there when I first got him.  I got a lot of suggestions from people who work with autistic children and because Alvin does indeed appear to be autistic, I think many of the techniques will work for Alvin also.  To carry out these ideas I have to leave the house to go get the supplies and other than taking Alvin to the vet, I have not left the house.  I hear it's been sunny outside.  Alvin has made significant progress but some of the techniques could be very helpful with helping him further. 

Camp Cocker did send me a calming collar today and we will see if that helps.  He certainly smells good with it on and if it doesn't help him, I'm going to wear it.  Maybe I'll just stay really close to him and see if I get a contact calm.

When Alvin is on the sedatives it is a bit of a painful reminder of what he isn't able to do when "normal".  When he is sedated I can pet him all over his body and pick him up without causing him any stress.  Last night I laid my head on him while he was sleeping.  It felt so nice and I found myself wishing that he could naturally be about 20% calmer so that he could enjoy being touched more often.  He does now readily let me scratch under his chin and chest and will often come to me and seek it out.  He also sleeps nearly on top of me at night.  This is major progress and I don't take it for granted but I want more for him.  When we go to the dog park and he shows an interest in another dog I always get so hopeful and excited.  Inevitably, he wanders off into his own world.  I have so often wondered if this is a fraction of what mom's of autistic children feel like when taking their kids to the playground.  I have found that having Alvin in my life has made me more aware, more sensitive, and more compassionate.  As I said in the beginning, I knew that I would get more out of this experience than he would, and I truly have.  I just know there is someone else out there that would benefit from the lessons only Alvin can teach.  He's a very patient teacher.

Recently the founder of Camp Cocker talked to me about it being a challenge to ever find Alvin an adoptive home and she was kind of wondering if I would end up adopting him. It's interesting because I love Alvin and I don't think it is possible for me to care more about him.  I am sort of surprised that he hasn't been adopted yet. That probably sounds ridiculous considering that most people want a dog they can actually touch (go figure) but he is just the sweetest, most innocent soul and I would think a lot of people would want a dear little being like him in their lives and homes.  I think that with his knees fixed and after his physical rehab that someone is going to want to adopt him. I don't want to adopt Alvin by default, meaning I adopt him because no one else will take him. He is more valuable than that. I want him to go to a home because someone specifically chooses him over all other dogs. With that said, it is going to be very difficult to see him go and part of me hopes he never does. Shoot, most of me hopes that he never does, but I made the commitment from the start of fostering that I was not going to adopt any of my foster dogs because then my slot is closed.  The amount of additional dogs that can be saved throughout the years with the slot remaining open is potentially quite a few. Selfishly, I would really like to adopt Alvin and Stevie and call it a day but when I think of the fact that 10 cockers are going into the LA area shelters each day and about half aren't making it out alive, I need to keep my commitment to fostering. But why did I end up landing two of the sweetest, most challenging to adopt foster dogs? Just my luck!  But I do promise you that I will be at the human doctor asking for whatever Alvin had, to sedate me through my near hysteria when he leaves.  You will all have to stop reading this because I won't have Alvin and it will turn into some weird diatribe of missing him.  My hope is that his new mom will want to post here periodically and take over the blog.  Otherwise, how are any of us going to go through life without Alvin in our lives?  But no worries of that yet because Alvin is right here, curled up in a dog bed and he looks like a little fawn.  In these moments I nearly forget how hard the first six days were......almost.  So far it's nine days down and only 10 weeks and two days to go.  Heaven help us all!  The poor guy is going to end up wearing 10 calming collars at once and me swallowing his bottle of sedatives in one sitting, which due to the weight difference will probably only relax one of my legs. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Surviving Hurricane Alvie

I haven't left the house since Sunday when I had to take Alvin to the ER and it's a good thing because I look just ridiculous!  I look like the lone person in those award winning photos where there has been a bombing or natural disaster, and there is still smoke seeping up, with the one person wondering aimlessly around, with their hair sticking up all over the place, while starring incomprehensibly at everything around them.  That's me and I am in the middle of Hurricane Alvie, which continues to hit unrelentingly.  The worst part is just when I think we have found the solution, he disappoints me at every turn.  This has caused me to be stressed out all the time because he is on those back legs way, way too much.  Tonight when my mom was over I started laughing for no apparent reason and couldn't stop.  I told her that I thought Alvin was actually causing me to lose it a little bit because the night before I had done the same thing but I was all by myself.  As someone with a career in mental health, I was actually evaluating myself while continuing to laugh uncontrollably and the diagnosis was grim.
I don't remember where I left off here but yesterday we spent the entire day in bed.  It was the one place where he would lie down and sleep but that required me to be in bed with him for a grand total of 12 hours.  We have spent so much time in bed that this morning I noticed a very tender, red spot on my tailbone.  I couldn't figure out what the problem was until tonight, after having spent the entire day again in bed that it dawned on me that it's a possible bed sore.  It may be a coincidence but it's exactly where my body meets the bed while sitting continuously on the bed.  Is it really possible that I have developed a bed sore through this?  Heaven help me.

Yesterday, later in the day, I became elated because I thought I had found the answer.  I took Alvin's favorite bed out of his x-pen because I can't keep him caged because all he does is stand in there crying, while repeatedly circling.  The reason for keeping him in a pen is to keep him off of his feet and so it becomes pointless to use the x-pen.  I took his bed and put it in the exact same place in my bedroom where it usually is.  I hadn't tried that before because there is a play pen in my room, which makes the room very small and there is only one, very narrow escape route for him.  I assumed that it would be too confining but he ended up following me in and was trying to get in the bed before I had even situated it on the floor.  He got in it and after circling and pawing at it for at least five minutes, he settled in and went sound asleep for three hours.  I sent off an e-mail to Cathy at Camp Cocker letting her know that we finally had success.  After his nap he didn't want to be in the bed and instead opted to get in his x-pen (the door is open) and sleep the rest of the night by himself in the living room.  Honestly, that was just weird.  He has never slept in the living room by himself and why he wanted to be in his x-pen, one can only guess.  Believe me when I say that his behaviors defy logic at this point and it isn't worth the time taken to surmise.  I was so relieved that he went to sleep that I did not give him his sedative and thought all was well.  This morning he was up and moving way too much.  I gave him his sedative, which didn't help slow him down a bit.  I then gave him a second sedative an hour later, which the vet said was fine.  He still wouldn't stop walking around.  His eyes were sedated by he just wouldn't give in.  I finally told him that he was grounded again and I put him back in bed and hunkered down with my Kindle.  He slept for three hours but then was back up and walking way too much.  At exactly the six hour mark when I am allowed to give him another sedative, I gave it to him but after an hour of continuing to walk around like a lunatic, I gave him the second dose.  He has just gone into the bedroom and must be lying down because I don't hear the tinkling of his ID tag on this collar.  I don't dare go in there because chances are he will jump up and start walking around again. 

I just don't know what to do because he could absolutely be undoing the work the surgeon just did.  He is supposed to have a few walks just to go potty and they aren't supposed to be more than five minutes.  Instead, he is walking sometimes for hours before I can get him back down.  I had anticipated that he might try to be on his feet to much so I have all kinds of rawhide and chewable items that would usually be very enticing to him but with him having gone back to all this odd mouth behavior, he can barely eat his own kibble and is incapable of chewing anything else. 

I have an appointment with his regular vet tomorrow for him to take his Fentanyl patch off and re-wrap his legs and I will discuss what to do then.  I did talk to his regular vet last night and we agreed that Alvin is very "unique" and what would work with nearly every other dog is not very effective with him.  Clearly we are going to have to continue using sedatives but even that doesn't seem to help.  We had entertained the idea of putting him in a medical cage at the vet's office but my fear is that he is either going to continuously circle or stand up for hours at a time.  I knew this was going to be bad but I had no idea that it would be this bad.  The problem was that if he didn't have the surgery he would develop severe, debilitating arthritis.  When the surgeon went in he already found quite a bit of arthritis but it would get so much worse without the surgery.  Just heaven help us if at his six-week check up they find they have to go back in to correct anything.  At that point, I am going to ask that they just sedate me and leave Alvin alone. 

I probably need to get out of the house for a few hours and get a break but I don't want to leave him alone.  My mom has graciously offered to come over and watch him for me but my mom is a worrier and Alvin is very worrisome right now and so I picture them worrying each other into a heart attack. 

I just tiptoed in and Alvin is asleep in one of the beds he has previously shown no interest in.  Of course, I went in there like a Navy Seal on a secret, top mission but he still detected me and started to pop up.  I backed out of there as though I had just encountered the Taliban, who might be more reasonable and manageable right now. 

My dog, Timmie seems to detect how crazy it is here and he just wants out.  When my mom left here earlier today he ended up scratching at the front door and sniffing it, clearly wanting grandma to come back and save him from Toon Town.  He also started rejecting his food because clearly he got a taste of the good life over at grandma's and is no longer interested in the healthy stuff over here.  I am so grateful to Timmie and Stevie who both continue to be so good with Alvin.  Timmie is a humper when anything is different with a dog, but he has maintained the no-humping policy in this household.  They also are staying clear of him when he is asleep on the bed, which relieves me because I have worried about one or both of them walking on his legs while he is asleep.  They have both been champs.   

I do so very much appreciate your kind words and encouragement.  I believe that many of you are sincere in stating that if you lived closer that you would come to help but honestly, someone needs to stay sane in all of this and it's definitely not going to be me.  It will be no fun if this blog is written by a certifiable crazy person and all the readers are too crazy to be adequately entertained. 

The good news is that his knees look good and I don't think he is experiencing much, if any pain.  The bad news is that they continue to prescribe sedatives just for him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Feel Like I Gave Birth

to a colicky baby who won't stop crying.  Alvin is just devastated by having to wear a cone.  He is absolutely miserable and stands and cries continuously during all waking hours.  He gets himself upset to the point that he won't sleep when he needs to.  I have been giving him prescribed sedatives but he really hit the wall this afternoon.  I also hit the wall because of sleep deprivation and it is sad and unnerving to hear him cry all the time.  But here's the shocker - Alvin only stops crying if I scratch his chest. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent scratching his chest. After finally taking a break in an effort to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and not rub him raw, I all of a sudden realized that Alvin is soothed by physical touch, to the point that when I stop he immediately starts crying again.  It's like pressing the play button on a stereo off and on.  But let me say it one more time to make sure you all caught it, Alvin not only tolerates touch but it is a significant comfort to him.  I don't know that any of us could have predicated that one.  With that said, he has to be upset with me for putting him through all of this I am anticipating that once this is over he is going to make a formal request to Camp Cocker for a new foster mom but he is stuck with me until his adoptive home is found.  I almost expect to find posters up in the neighborhood with little paw prints and an urgent request for an adoptive home.

Due to his complete melt down at having to wear a cone, I am either taking him to the vet tomorrow or going to wrap his legs myself so he can't get to his stitches and won't have to wear the cone.  With his last surgery he was sent home with wrapped legs and didn't wear a cone and his former foster mom didn't hear him cry once.  I have never seen a dog react to a cone like he has.  It makes him off balance as though he has a ten pound weight around his neck and he staggers and wobbles around.  If he even slightly brushes against anything he thinks he's stuck and just stands there crying.  I took the cone off him for a bit tonight just to make sure it is the cone causing him so much distress before I went out and bought surgical wraps and supplies,  and he nearly immediately laid down and went to sleep for three hours.

When he woke up this evening I let him out of his pen to go potty and he trotted around the house just so happy.  I let him do a couple of his loops to get it out of his system and I realized how important his little routine is to him.  He looked so happy and relieved, with his little tail wagging.  More than ever before I am seeing that Alvin truly seems to be autistic.  His little ritualized routine doesn't resemble anything of a "normal" dog and it looks very much like the behavior in autistic humans. I guess that would be a turn off to most people but I find it fascinating.  How many people own an autistic dog? I would think it would add to his adoptive value but apparently not.  Their loss.

I ended up putting him in bed with me last night because he was so upset.  I covered the mattress in potty pads and have a plastic mattress protector on.  Later, I noticed he was shivering.  By the way they shaved him he looks like he doesn't have pants on and he gets cold easily and so I wrapped him in my down comforter and he looked like a little cone-wearing angel.  All was so peaceful and I was getting some good sleep until the gardener showed up this morning.  The sight and sound of the gardener sends Timmie into epic barking fits, which then woke up and agitated Alvin.  With Timmie barking, with what can only be described as an ear piercing, glass shattering, soul crushing bark, and then Alvin crying his eyes out, I couldn't take it.  In response, Timmie got sent next door for a stay at grandma's, which he loves because word on the street is that there are all kinds of treats at grandma's house, comprised of turkey, bacon, beef, cheese, and so on.  I am never certain as to what has been given because when I try to intervene as the concerned mom, my mom tells me to never mind and that it is between Timmie and his grandma.  She successfully convinces me that at grandma's house, the grand kids (or dogs) are allowed to be spoiled.  If Timmie catches on that a barking fit results in him getting a trip to grandma's, I am never going to get him to stop. 

Meanwhile Stevie is back to sleeping at Alvin's pen door for periods of time.  My mom suggested I try to put Stevie in with Alvin to see if it would comfort him but by the way he knocks into everything like a drunken sailor, I fear that Stevie would be the first dog beat up by a plastic cone.  Plus, once the treats are gone Stevie will want to get moving.  Alvin does seem a bit comforted by the presence of the dogs at his pen door.  Both the dogs have been very good and gentle with Alvin, especially Timmie.  He is curious as to what is wrong with Alvin and sniffs his back and looks at his head, while remaining very close to Alvin when he goes out to go potty. 

Just as I wrote the above paragraph, Alvin laid back down and appears to be going to sleep.  The only problem is that with the cone he becomes hyper vigilant and pops up at any movement or noise.  This results in me doing everything short of a belly crawl to try to get around undetected.  I have had the phone on silent and when I was reading last night I ended up contorting myself into ridiculous positions in an effort to get in comfortable positions without waking up Sir Whines A Lot. 

There is much more to report but I will close for now in an effort to get some sleep.  This consists of me trying to get Alvin in my bed without getting him all jacked up and crying again.  I don't want to leave him in the x-pen in the living room alone and so I run the risk of starting another cone-wearing, crying fit.  I do not know how new mothers handle the fatigue and agitation of having colicky babies.  One Alvin is enough for me.  And as if on cue, Alvin literally just popped back up and has started crying.  Did I mention what a lovely dog Alvin is and how he would be a wonderful addition to nearly any home?  He is available for adoption immediately but don't all of you start flooding me with demands to be the one special adopter of Alvin.  No really, don't everyone jump up at once.  Alvin's ready to pack him bones, while leaving his cone behind and come to your house immediately, because he thinks I'm kind of a jerk right about now. 

I do hope you all are sleeping well because somebody needs to.  I hope you are all having a whimper free slumber.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

This is Just About as Fun as we Thought it Would be

Poor Alvin!  After sleeping well last night, I woke up to find that he had urinated all over his bed and himself and was laying in his own urine.  He was clearly in pain because he was afraid to move and would stand in place while crying his little heart out.  I knew he was really hurting when I couldn't entice him to move with a trail of kibble.  I ended up at an emergency hospital with him and he was given stronger pain meds, an anti-inflammatory, and a sedative because he was getting himself worked up.  That really did the trick because he is so much more comfortable now and is resting very comfortably.  They did literally staple a fentayl patch to his back in four places.  As in, literal staples.  That guy has to hate me at this point.

I had to take his bed out to wash and dry it, which caused him great distress.  He is very attached to one particular bed and he wouldn't get in the other 20 (there was a sale) that I had to offer him.  Luckily, when he got stronger pain meds he was able to get in one of the beds and is sound asleep.  I have his favorite bed waiting for him when he goes out to go to the bathroom and will put it in his pen then. 

It has been very interesting to see the reaction of Stevie and Timmie.  When Alvin was crying today, Timmie alternated between pawing at the pen and wanting in, to shaking and wanting me to hold him like a baby.  Last night Timmie and Stevie took turns sleeping outside the door of Alvin's pen.  They seem over it now but I was able to get a couple of videos of them doing it last night, which I will post later. 

Alvin is finding the cone on his head to be a major adjustment.  If he rubs against something, he convinces himself that he is stuck and will stay in the same position until I come "free" him.  He seems to think he is blind with it on and when he is turned away from me and I call him, he won't turn towards me.  It seems to have messed up his sense of balance because he teeters and totters with it on and tries to shake it off.  Having Alvin with a cone is just a whole other can of worms.

He is running a fever and the vet asked me to take his temperature every few hours.  Ummm, really?  Because it took two of them to do it today.  Apparently at the surgeon's office Alvin acted totally different and the surgeon told me that he is a normal dog that let them hold him and pet him.  At the ER today, Alvin acted much more himself and they saw the unique challenges for him because one can't pet him to comfort him and picking him up results in him thrashing.  It is odd because Alvin can act very normal for short periods of time and it is always with strangers.  I see the signs of stress for him, such as vigorously wagging his tail but they of course see it as a friendly, relaxed gesture.  It was a bit frustrating to try to make the staff at the first hospital understand his challenges when they were seeing none of it. 

His odd mouth issues have come back.  I put his pill in a piece of hot dog and he simply couldn't figure out how to chew it.  It kept popping back out of his mouth to the point that I had to take it away and give him his pill in melted cheese, which he still had difficulty with.  For those of you who have read from the beginning, he had a very difficult time chewing and even getting in to his mouth nearly anything that was given to him by hand.  We have overcome a great deal of those challenges but they are right back.  Alvin tends to go back to mouth problems when stressed out, but even melted cheese? 

Whatever the case, it is so good to see him resting comfortably.  We have been put through the ringer in the past 48 hours.  We left for Monterey at 5:30 AM on Friday.  I drove back home that day, only to turn around and do the drive again the next day, but only after taking both Timmie and Maddie to the vet where Maddie proceeded to throw up and defecate all over her carrier in the car (car sickness).  Timmie has bad lungs and they are progressively getting worse.  He also has something suspicious on his butt and near his penis.  He is on some medications to see if those work and if not, it off for biopsies of his lungs, butt, and penis.  Maddie just has a little ear infection.  After going through that, I went to pick up Alvin and after very little sleep last night and him crying today, we were off to the vet hospital.  I will really be okay if I don't see the inside of a vet's office for a few days. 

Alvin's knees do look great!  They look like totally different knees. 

When I got out the leash to take him to the ER today, he tried his best to run from me.  I think I may have just created an agoraphobic dog because he wants nothing to do with anything outside of this house.  I imagine he wants nothing to do with me but since I am the provider of the kibble, he is stuck with me.

I will keep you all updated and I am optimistic that the worst is over......right?  Please tell me the worst is over because this just isn't our idea of fun.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Alvin's Home

Just a short note to let you all know that Alvin's arrived safely back at home.  His legs are clearly painful and he isn't happy to be in an x-pen, but he finally went to sleep in his favorite dog bed.  Alvin was standing in the x-pen and crying and Timmie began whimpering and pawing at the x-pen because he wanted in with Alvin.  Who knows what he had in mind but I didn't let him in to find out.  Alvin has an x-pen in the living room with a quilt on the floor, a container with real grass to go potty in, and his bed.  He also has a nice soft play pen in the bedroom, with a quilt, a bed, and real grass.  I think I will make a place for him on the bed to sleep with me if he gets upset having to sleep on his own.  He seemed so happy to see me and wanted to get the heck out of dodge.  I will write much more at a later date but I wanted to let everyone know that he is indeed home.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Alvin's Out of Surgery

The surgeon called me and let me know that he made it out of surgery.  It was a long surgery, around four hours.  He has a lot of scar tissue and arthritis but the surgeon got his knees near normal.  I get to pick him up late tomorrow.  I already miss the little guy!

Our Million Dollar Baby

I drove Alvin to Monterrey this morning for his double knee surgery.  I felt terrible the whole way down there because I know that it is going to be a painful recovery.  We left at 5:45 AM because I wasn't sure how long it was going to take and we ended up getting there early so I took him to the beach.  As far as we know, he has never seen the ocean.  He did a literal double take and was very interested in what all those big waves were about - and they were really big waves this morning. 

I felt a little ridiculous because I brought a bunch of written instructions on how to best deal with Alvin.  I felt so bad leaving him there but I left him with a towel to put in his cage that smells like "us" back home, as well as his bed, his food, and instructions to give him treats instead of touches.

The hope is that he will come home tomorrow, which means another nearly five hour drive round trip but I am very eager to have him back home again.  I am also fearful of having him back home because I want to make sure I don't screw anything up, but I can't stand to think of him scared and alone in a medical cage. 

This is Alvin's second knee surgery.  The first was not as successful as hoped, but a different surgeon is performing this one and it's his speciality.  He hopes to get Alvin's knees back to normal.  Between the first knee surgery, his eye surgery, and this knee surgery, he is definitely turning into Camp Cocker's million dollar baby.  But he is worth it.  He is the sweetest little guy and has taken to sleeping on top of me at night.  He has made some good progress in the touch department and we have finally broken through the over-handed, touching the back barrier.  I can now pet him on his back and on the top of his head for as long as I want, as long as we are in bed together.  When Alvin goes to bed at night, he ends up sleeping very soundly and although he starts out sleeping right next to me, throughout the night he drowsily repositions himself and ends up sleeping on top of me.  I groggily mistake it for being Timmie, and go to pick him up to put him beside me, at which point he wakes up and freaks out that I am picking him up and I wake up and freak out that I am lifting Alvin.  It's quite a show. 

I don't know if he is going to freak out too much when I try to lift him on the bed and since he cannot thrash with his back legs as he often does, I have the cutest dog playpen set up in my bedroom for him with his dog bed, a quilt, and his potty tray.  I also have a similar set up in the living room with an x-pen, a dog bed and another quilt.  The guilt of having to leave him in a scary place to be sliced open will surely result in him being completely catered to.  We are then going to have to do physical therapy, which will probably result in him getting even more catered to because having a stranger tugging on his legs will surely result in me feeling horrible.  I did try to explain to the surgeon that we were going to need a fair amount of sedatives for him but I think I can across as some type of canine drug dealer and the surgeon seemed a bit put off by me.  As if he was the first male to be put off by me - he wasn't dealing with an amateur in that department because I have experience in dealing with disinterested, disagreeable males. 

Meanwhile I have to take Timmie and Maddie to the vet tomorrow.  Maddie seems to have an ear infection and Timmie has grown a lump on his butt.  Stevie is still recuperating from her cataract surgery and so, we have ears, butts, knees, and eyes to deal with around here.  Thank goodness they aren't all on one dog/cat.

I will keep everyone posted on Alvin.