As you all know, there have been literally hundreds of hours devoted to getting Alvin more comfortable with human touch. I am always taken with his attempts to be brave but his anxiety inevitably gets the best of him and he has to retreat and then re-approach. Alvin is most receptive to having his next and chest scratched and as time has gone on he has been able to stand and let me scratch for longer periods of time. Tonight he may have single- handily caused me to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, while I was internally pleading with him to run away. He stood there for the longest time and because I want to encourage the behavior I nearly scratched until my fingers bled. We may have actually progressed to where I will have to stop and leave him wanting more or it could be a fluke. Just when I think I have him figure out, he changes up the game.
Alvin is now required to sleep every night in bed with me. For the past several months he has primarily slept in bed with me but it is now a mandate. Someone has to keep me company and since he's the only one too afraid to jump down, he got the job full time! I think he enjoys it once he's up there but his anxiety over having to be picked up sends him running away from me every night and we pitifully following him, while pleading, "Please Alvin, honey. Come to bed with mommy." He is out of luck in securing the dog bed that is on my bed because the cat has completely overtaken it and she only get out to eat or go to the bathroom. If I want to spend any time with her I have to get in my bed because that is where she is holding court and accepting visitors. My other foster dog, Stevie was a bit of a cuddler but she got far more independent once we were able to restore some of her vision. The timing of her independence was horrible because it came near the time of the sudden loss of my #1 cuddler, Timmie White. It has only been in the last couple of days that she has started to want to sleep on the bed again. I can't complain though because a couple of nights ago Stevie made me feel like the canine equivalent of the Second Coming. I was gone for a couple of hours and when I came back she greeted me with such enthusiasm and joy that I couldn't help but momentarily think that I was the be-all and end-all. She always greets me with several jumps and kisses but for whatever reason, this reunion was over-the-top and so she is carrying a lot of bonus points right now.
Yesterday I went for a job interview and was greeted by a dog that came running out of one of the offices - a sure sign of a great place to work. The dog is a four-year-old poodle that was left outside for the last six months before being adopted by her current mom. She consequently has separation anxiety and after explaining that I have foster dogs, I was asked if I had any tips for dealing with separation anxiety. I went through my mental rolodex of past foster dogs and quickly realized that separation anxiety appears to be one of the only issues that Alvin does not have. He is very cute when I come home because he does get very excited, as evidenced by the frantic looping. It is unclear if his response is generated by Stevie's excited response or whether he is genuinely greeting me, but he does seem quite happy I'm home. The job interview was at an agency that works with neglected and abused children and I explained that Alvin is autistic. This of course brought the confused looks and inquiries about whether a dog can be autistic. I certainly had never heard of autism in dogs and would have been very skeptical, until Sir Alvin Stanley entered my world. One only has to spend a few minutes with him to clearly see the autism but I am not planning on bringing him into the agency to prove it to them because I could easily get confused by his nervous-I'm-in-a-new-environment looping and the frantic-I-have-to-go-potty looping and if I misjudged we could easily leave quite a parting gift, with me trying to gracefully exit, while holding a struggling, panicked dog and saying, "never mind about the job. Thanks anyway."
Alvin continues his ever-growing love affair with my mom. Since she has recovered from her surgery enough to be off the narcotic pain killers, she no longer finds Alvin as "brilliant" as she did. That whole thing was a couple of downright hilarious weeks, with Alvin being deemed brilliant while my mom looked at him with glazed, narcotic-filled eyes. With that said, they have recently come up with a very accurate communication system. I took him over for one of our frequent visits to my mom's house and she asked him if he had to go potty. I told her that he did not because he hadn't done any of his characteristic looping that is the only indicator that he has to go. She insisted and got up and let him out and all be darned if he didn't go out and go potty. I figured it was a fluke but about 30 minutes later, she again asked him if he had to go potty and again I maintained that he did not because he hadn't done the looping. Once again she insisted and once again he went out and went potty. I asked her how in the world she knew and she said something about the way he looked at her. I couldn't even pretend to understand it but it's Alvin's world and she seems to currently be the only resident. In the past, I have mentioned the way animals inexplicably bond to her, and this from a woman who claims not to be particularly taken with animals. Last night, I looked out my back sliding glass door and there was the neighbor's cat wanting in. The cat lives two doors down and is over-the-moon in love with my mom. My mom never feeds him and he gets a tremendous amount of attention in his home. Yet, he often comes and waits at my front door for my mom to come out and then dutifully walks her home. Apparently, he couldn't wait any longer and had to hop two, six foot fences and was staring through my glass door at her. Luckily, Stevie seems to maintain some sense of loyalty towards me but every other animal that has ever lived here clearly preferred my mom. Really? I don't think she's the one paying for their food, letting them sleep in her bed, giving out eye drops three times a day........need I go on? I think I should get a fish because I don't think they can show a preference.
I have noticed something else odd about Alvin (imagine that). I have noticed it for quite some time but it was only recently that I made a conclusion based on my observation. When Alvin gets in bed with me, he quickly lies down and almost always right where I have placed him. He seems too nervous to explore. What I have come to realize is that Alvin will not move to another location once he lies down. He will repeatedly pop up with even the slightest movement by me until he gets more mentally at ease, which only takes a couple of minutes. Once he is asleep, it is like waking the dead - he's out. I imagine that is from looping all day long and being worn out. What I have come to realize though is that once he is comfortable he will not move, even if in my sleep I roll over and I am literally on top of the poor guy. If Stevie comes and lays on Alvin, he simply won't move. I have found him in so many positions that simply can't be comfortable but he won't get up and move. I really don't know what to make of it because once situated, he does not appear to be afraid to be on the bed. The one thing I can count on is that he when he is fearful or anxiety-ridden, it is so clear and watching him on the bed neither emotion seems to be displayed. So, his failure to move when uncomfortable just doesn't make sense. I am assuming that it has to be uncomfortable when he has a 105 pound woman (as if, but just go with it) lying half on him. The only time he moves is if he stretches out or rolls over in his sleep and I often find his half sprawled on top of me. Last night, I found him literally nose to nose with me, with his angelic little breath tickling my cheek. I am becoming increasingly more careful of not allowing Stevie to accidentally lay on top of him or me accidentally laying on him, but why in the world would he not just move? This boy remains a mystery and I wonder if I am going to have to unravel it all before he is ready to move on to his adoptive home? If so, he may be a lifer here.