Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Definite Progress!

Just last night my mom was talking about what it would be like if Alvin got over his fear of being touched and she thought that he would then be a Velcro dog.  I looked at her like she was an alien and asked her what was the probability of Alvin ever getting over his issues to that extent.

Then just today, Alvin showed two signs of progress.  I have to remind myself that Alvin can't ever be counted out and his possibilities remain endless. 

First, I was over at my mom's house and I had shut the back door at my house because it was just too hot outside.  I knew that if Alvin had to go potty that he wouldn't be able to wait and he would go inside.  When I got home there was no puddle and I opened the back door and sat in a chair outside.  Alvin came right out and went potty.  I am assuming he was holding it earlier and it's the second time I have seen him be able to hold it when the door was previously closed.  I realize that most people wouldn't find that to be a big event but I was so darn proud of him!  While still sitting in the chair, I praised him and he came over to me and let me repeatedly pet his back.  He is more receptive to being pet when I am sitting, but considering I was seated up off the ground, it was definitely progress!  I am always so pleased for him in those moments because it has to feel good to be touched and it's nice when his fear doesn't get in the way and deprive him (or me) of those moments. 

I am editing this to add that after I wrote this entry, I came back again from being at my mom's house and when I opened the back door, Alvin again went right out and went potty again.  Goodness gracious, if he keeps this up I am going to have to get him his own dog to play with as a present.......just kidding, mom!

So Alvin gets a big gold star for the day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


While Alvin was still sedated from his hair cut, he was much braver and I was able to hug and pet him.  I had to go out to the garage to change laundry and for the first time, Alvin went out with me.  He bounded to the far side of the garage and then I heard an odd cry coming from him.  He became very afraid of something and started crying his little eyes out.  I have no idea what it was but I doubt he will be going out there again any time soon. 

Later in the day he was brave enough to bound out the front door when I was coming in.  My worst nightmare would be for Alvin to get out because I don't know how easy it would be to catch him, with all his fears and his inability to be able to process the direction of sound.  He bounded out about four feet, and much to my relief, he came right back in when I called him.  We went through this two more times and each time he came right back in.  When he is not sedated, he is good about staying inside but I have learned my lesson about the new and improved brave Alvin when sedated.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Smell

A couple of days ago when I got out of the shower, Alvin could not get enough of me and insisted on gliding his nose up and down my arms, legs and back.  I started to question what was different and realized that I had just opened up a new bar of soap that was in a scent I had never used before.  The difference in smell caused Alvin to go on a nasal tour up and down my limbs.  I really threw him for a loop when the next day, I used a new shampoo and coupled with the recent change in soap, it was nearly too much for him.  He finally stopped smelling when he was convinced it was still me.  I don't dare change my toothpaste or lotion too, because I don't think his nose is built for as much sniffing as another change in smell would require.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not His Best Look

I bit the bullet and shaved Stevie and Alvin down on the same night.  Alvin knew it was coming because I did Stevie first and Alvin responded by refusing to come inside and just had his head in the door while staring at me the whole time.  He ended up doing pretty well.  Of course, I sedated him.  He is shaved way down, which will definitely help for the next three weeks, until his fur grows back at lightening speed.  Unfortunately, I had to cut a lot of the fur off of his ears because he won't let me brush them and one of them was a tangled mess.  He has such beautiful ears and I hate when cockers have their ears shaved, but I had to cut them way down so we can start over again.  It isn't his best look.  He has responded to the whole thing by going outside and refusing to come back in.  He is boycotting me but I can abruptly end it by offering a treat.  Poor little guy, I wish it could be easier for him.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Red Rover, Red Rover, Alvin Won't Come Over

As you all have read in exhausting detail, Alvin doesn't do well with change.  He is getting far better at accepting change and just last night my mom was commenting on how much less he circles in response to a change in his environment.  On the whole, his circling has reduced by about 80%. 

With the heat and the need to pull out all the electrical fans from the garage, Alvin is now facing a new challenge.  Before he came to me I was warned by his former foster mom that he had chewed on two cords, both being expensive computer cords.  I made certain that there were no cords in sight before he came.  Alvin hasn't tried to chew anything since being here.  So, I pulled out the fans and there was a cord on the ground that was blocking the route he would take to get to me when I am sitting on the couch.  I use the term, blocking because it might as well as been a brick wall based on Alvin's reaction to it.  He refused to cross over the cord and it didn't matter how many times I called him, he just couldn't muster up the courage to walk over it.  There are times when I don't even venture a guess as to why, and this would be one of them.  It's just part of what makes Alvin a very memorable little boy!

Below is a video taken of Alvin at his former foster home when he chewed up his foster mom's quilt.  Make sure and watch to the very end because the last five seconds are priceless!  I find it cute because Alvin hasn't tried to chew anything of mine, heck, he can barely chew his food half the time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ice Cubes and Heatstroke

Due to it being so hot here and the unfortunate fact that I don't have air conditioning, I have been putting ice cubes in the dogs water bowl several times a day.  Stevie loves it and immediately starts drinking each time.  Alvin, it turns out, is afraid of ice cubes in the water bowl and finds them both scary and mystifying.  The good news is that they melt fast and he does seem to enjoy drinking cool water on our very hot days. 

With the heat, I am going to have to shave Alvin down again.  As you all probably recall, it was just two or three weeks ago that I shaved him.  It's terribly unfortunate that of all the dogs I have ever known, Alvin's fur grows the fastest.  I am going to shave him as far down as I can so that we will hopefully get at least a four week reprieve.  This is particularly necessary because Alvin tries to go out to the side of the house and lie directly in the sun when it's over 100 degrees outside.  I have written about that area being his favorite place to sleep, but in the past he knew not to be out there on really hot days.  That area is where the sun beats down the hardest and the concrete is like a stove top.  I have the door shut during the day to keep the heat out but when I have opened it, he tries to go out there and sleep.  I am thankful that I don't have a doggy door because it would be harder to control.  I don't know how long he would actually stay out there because I am always aware when he is outside on hot days and I don't give him the option to stay.  On the occasions when he has gone out there, I peak around the corner and he is lying there asleep already.  Why would he do that?  I would think that he could get heatstroke very easily.  I realize that he has his oddities but wouldn't he know it's too hot and not want to lie directly in the sun?  When I am gone, I keep the door closed because I am not going to run the risk of coming home to a cooked up Alvin.  He continues to mystify me at times, and although I usually let him freely partake in all his glorious oddities, his attempt to become a canine biscuit is one that I can't allow. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Alvin was Trapped

It has been extremely hot here and I decided to turn on the sprinkles last night to give the lawn more water.  I didn't think it through because when I turned them on, Alvin was on the side of the house and because of where the side lawn is, he would get a very slight mist if he passed them.  He repeatedly tried to pass them but would get halfway through, stand in the only place he could get sprayed, and then retreat back to the side of the house.  After trying to coax him through it several times, I gave up and picked him up to bring him in the house.  Alvin looks so funny when he is picked up because he cranes his neck up as high as it will go and he looks like either a baby bird begging for food or a bobblehead.  Speaking of bobbleheads, wouldn't a bobblehead of Alvin be cute? 

What I didn't realize is that the experience would cause Alvin to be too afraid to go outside again.  About two hours later Alvin started to do the pee-pee dance and I could tell that he really needed to go out, but I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't go.  It dawned on me that it was due to the sprinklers having been on earlier and I had to go outside, repeatedly call him to come out, and then sit in the chair outside and wait for him to go.  The reason I had to sit in the chair is that he usually won't go unless I am seated because he gets so afraid he is going to miss out on something otherwise.  I didn't have to wait long because he really had to go and I think we narrowly missed him going in the house.  Poor Alvin, if it's not one thing, it's the sprinklers, his own shadow, electrical cords (future post), or ice cubes (another future post). 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Disappearing Act

When I use my bathroom I leave the door open because it's only me and because Alvin likes to follow me in there.  He always comes in, does a circle and goes back out.  I can count on him to come in again and do the same thing.  He then tends to wait out in the hallway.  What is interesting is that even after he has come in twice and clearly sees where I am, when he is out in the hallway and I call him, he isn't able to figure out where I am.  I am able to spy on his through the space between the door and the frame.  My bathroom is unusually small and when entering, you can either go straight for less than eight feet or you can make a very small turn to the left, which is where the toilet is.  There are no other options, and yet, when I call him, and on the times that he eventually walks into the bathroom, he will keep looking straight ahead or even look to the right, which is where the bathtub is.  It usually takes me waving my arms for him to look left and "find" me.  What is particularly interesting is that he always looks terribly surprised and relieved to find me there, even though he just saw me there less than one minute before.  All I can say is, thank goodness I live alone because I look like an idiot sitting on the toilet, calling a dog, and waving both hands wildly in front of me to get his much you want to bet I continue living alone for all of eternity, because one night of our antics in this house would be sure to scare any roommate or suitor away.  I'm not sad about it because when I put Alvin in bed with me and he rests his little chin on me and I feel his hot breath getting slower and deeper as he falls fast to sleep, I am reassured that as long as we have each other, we'll be just fine.  And yes, I realize that I sound like the crazy dog lady.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Safe Spot

Alvin has a place on the side of the house where he likes to bask in the sunshine will sprawled out on the concrete.  On a nice day I can usually find him sound asleep, without a care in the world.  I have discovered that if I go to the spot and sit down that Alvin will allow me to scratch and pet him all over his back, head, and neck.  He has recently started to even place his head in my lap, with his chin resting on my leg.  If someone who didn't know Alvin were to view the scene they wouldn't know that he has any anxiety over being touched.  I so enjoy the moments when Alvin is able to seem totally normal.  I feel like a mother of a special needs child because I get so excited over very small things that other people would take for granted.  He is particularly receptive to me petting him if I go out there after having been gone from the house.  This afternoon I went out there twice after having just come home and he was just a little love bug!  I am finding that although Alvin always wags his tail whenever I praise him, if I look away and don't speak that it takes the pressure off of him and he is able to let me pet him more. 

My hope is that this will help him become more relaxed with being touched on his back and head and that over time we can do this in the house.  I especially want to be able to move it in the house because on a couple of occasions I have gone outside and sat down only to discover that Alvin didn't follow me out.  I look entirely pathetic as I am sitting at the side of my house and calling, "Alvin, honey come see mommy."  Both times my calling was in vain because of Alvin's inability to be able to locate the direction of sound and I was left begging and dogless, while Alvin was circling himself dizzy in the house trying to figure out where my voice was coming from.  I am grateful that he chose the side of the house nearest my mom's house because if she spots me sitting out there alone calling Alvin, she won't bat an eye.  She has seen far weirder things when it comes to Alvin and me.  I wouldn't want to have to explain it to my neighbor on the other side because where does one even start when trying to explain Alvin? 

On another note, thank you for your very kind notes of condolence.  I deeply appreciate them.  I will miss my grandma for the rest of my life, but I love that because of her, I have cocker spaniels in my life and I will continue to help as many of them as I can in her honor.........this sentence is going to freak my mom out because she will immediately start worrying that "honoring grandma" will result in cockers galore running through the house.  I can already picture myself saying, "well, grandma would want me to have him/her," when trying to explain why another cocker magically appeared in the house.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A question for you all

I am noticing more and more that Alvin has a lot of processing issues, many that I have written about here.  I don't know if they are getting worse, or if I am just noticing them more, as I continue to get to know him.  I suspect it's the later.

One thing I have noticed and been alarmed by, is that when I am getting something out of the oven, Alvin tries repeatedly to approach the open oven and we have had a few close calls.  Luckily, I rarely use the oven.  He is not repelled or hesitant when feeling heat.  I have never encountered this with another dog and I am wondering if this is a common behavior in dogs, or if your dogs have felt the heat and known to keep a distance?  I am trying to ascertain whether this is another processing problem for him or if it's just what dogs do.  Please leave me a comment if you have had any experience with this issue.

Thank you!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I don't know what's going on but clearly there was a family meeting consisting of all three of my pets and I wasn't invited. There have been several incidents of mutiny and I am outnumbered. It started with Stevie refusing breakfast before 1:00 in the afternoon. She is a girl that really enjoys sleeping in, to the point that if I dare wake her before 1:00 in the afternoon she refuses breakfast and goes back to sleep. I feel like I am raising a teenager in canine form. I have to feed the dogs at the same time because if I feed Alvin earlier and then try to feed Stevie later, Alvin panics that he is missing out and I can only see so many of his whirly twirls until I start to get dizzy. I changed their feeding schedule to accommodate Princess Stevie and so they eat very late at night and then have what can't even be characterized as brunch because it's too late in the day.

Then there is Mister Alvin who made me almost fall down today because of his rebellion. We went over to grandma's house and Alvin was terribly excited because he hasn't been over there for nearly a week. I was so proud of him because on the way over he didn't so much as break out even one loop, pranced by my side, and knew the way to grandma's house. Once we got there, we had a grand time, complete with hot dog bites. My mom decided she would come back over to my house with us and I was proud of Alvin because he was able to go out the door and didn't attempt to run back in at the last minute. This was obviously due to the fact that my mom was coming with us. Due to my mom's fairly recent knee surgery, she walks quite a bit slower and I tend to walk ahead of her. I was walking Alvin when all of a sudden I got pulled back so hard that I started to stumble backwards. Alvin is a little thing but he managed to plant his butt and pull against me so hard that it caused me to nearly fall. I turned around to find him sitting, eyes wild, and his neck extended. He flat out refused to go further until his grandma caught up. He lovingly trotted next to her and it was clear that he was running the show.

My cat, Maddie is getting pretty old and will be 16 next month. She has always been the ideal cat, not too needy, fearless, yet cuddly. She has recently taken to meowing loudly early in the morning while demanding one of two things, a treat or affection. When she wants a treat she stands beside my bed and meows repeatedly. She actually expects me to get out of bed, go into the kitchen and get her a treat. Keep in mind that her "treat" is her own cat food, of which she has a whole bowl full, but she wants me to serve it to her on the floor in small amounts. I made the huge mistake of getting up a few times to give it to her just so she would shut up. This has led to a terribly persistent, very verbal cat. She has started a new move of now sitting on my back and meowing repeatedly when she wants me to wake up and pet her. If I give in and pet her, she will then go back to her dog bed, but then apparently gets bored because 15 minutes later she is standing on my back meowing. For a cat that has never given me one ounce of trouble, she is certainly making up for it.

They have also taken to all standing near the food container and Maddie has taken on the roll of town crier and strongly advocates for me to get up and give them each a treat. Alvin stands there literally licking his lips. They look so darn cute as a trio that I usually give in.

There are many more incidents of obstinacy, rebellion, and being terribly demanding. When reflecting on their recent behavior, I could only conclude that I had created this entire mess. I have spoiled those three to the point that I find myself actually begging them to behave, or in Maddie's case to let me sleep. I concluded that it is such a blessing that I never procreated because if I had a child, I would be the mother getting the phone calls from school and when they told me that my child was once again suspended, I would just be relieved that the little darling hadn't managed to get expelled. I have the gift of taking a lovely, undemanding animal and making them a spoiled rotten mess within hours. And so to society as a whole, when reflecting on the fact that I didn't procreate, all I can say is, you're welcome!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alvin, the Comforter

I haven't written anything for a few days because I kept getting an error message and couldn't access my page and also because my family suffered a significant loss recently. First, I want to thank the poster who took the time and effort to give me so many ideas of how to fund raise for Camp Cocker. It was frustrating because I could read the comment but I couldn't post an acknowledgment of it before now. They were all such great ideas and once I am more back on my feet I am going to try to use some of the suggestions. Thank you so much!
On Sunday night, my beloved grandma died. She was the one that I used to take my dog, Timmie and also Stevie to visit at the nursing home. She had a stroke on Friday and I was able to be with her nearly 24 hours a day until she died. On Saturday night and most of Sunday I laid next to her in bed and held her. I kept my hand or head on her chest most of the time so that I could feel her heart beat because I knew that soon I would begin missing that sound and wishing that more than anything it would return. I had my head on her chest and was able to hear her last, delicate heart beat. Earlier in the day I had curled her hair and put makeup on her because she would have been very upset had she looked sick while she was dying. After she died, I redid her makeup because it has to last for all eternity. I also knew that she would not be one bit happy if she went to meet Jesus with her hair undone or with no makeup. My grandma and I were always very close and shared a very special, red head, always in trouble bond. I spent most of my childhood saying, "well, grandma would say it's okay," when trying to get out of trouble for whatever lame brained stunt I had managed to pull.
I am writing about my grandma because something very interesting happened with Alvin. As some of you might recall, when Timmie died and I brought him home in the container, I couldn't bury him because it was in the middle of the night. Alvin responded to it by repeatedly making a guttural groans and cries. I noticed at the time how much he responded to me crying. Granted, it was more like loud wailing and was hard to miss, but Alvin had the most concerned look on his face and kept his eyes on me the entire time. Last Sunday afternoon I came home from the hospital to feed them dinner and to spend a few minutes with them. I sat on the floor because I needed the comfort of a dog and knew that Alvin is much more receptive to being touched when I am sitting down. Alvin responded by standing as close to me as he ever has, putting his head in my lap, and letting me pet him all over without backing away even once. He then leaned in and gave me one little kiss on my nose.  It was a marked difference to how he has ever been before, even in his most affectionate moments.
After my grandma died Sunday night, I came home and Alvin was very tuned into me. His eyes never left me. My mom came over a little while later and as you all know, I just don't exist in Alvin's world when she arrives. My mom pointed out that Alvin didn't even look her way and continued to circle around me, while staring at me. Later that night, I started crying again and saw Alvin with such a concerned look again. I put him in bed with me and he rested his chin on me all night long.
Alvin has since gotten over it and is back to "normal". Stevie was oblivious to the whole thing, which was fine. I found it appropriate that a cocker spaniel would be the one to comfort me through my grandma's death because my grandma was the one that started our now three generations of cocker spaniel lovers. She and my grandpa got a cocker named Maggie for my mom and aunts when they were little and the love of cocker spaniels started there.
So, to my grandma! I will love her always!
My grandma dancing at my brother's wedding just two months ago.  She's fist pumping with the best of them!
                      My brother having a chat with one of the most important women in his life.
                                              Our last picture as four generations.

My brother having the last dance with his grandma and me bawling my eyes out in the background.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My first effort at fundraising

This is what I wrote so far to go on the internet.  Wish me luck!

Hi all you fellow dog lovers! This is Janet White, a Camp Cocker foster parent and former adopter. I feel compelled to write this plea because for the past five years I have watched Camp Cocker Rescue go from a one woman show, with a handful of dogs to a rescue that saves close to 200 hundred cockers a year, with the help of many of you who have been kind enough to volunteer in all kinds of ways. This has been possible solely due to donations, which were made by many of you reading this. As you probably know, Cathy Stanley has started to lease a boarding facility so that Camp Cocker can now save more cockers. This is such a promising development but sadly, donations are way down and Camp Cocker simply cannot continue to rescue as many dogs unless we all find a way to get more donations. The sad reality is that on any given day, ten new cockers come into Los Angeles area shelters and only about half make it out. Every day lives are lost due to the sad fact that rescues do not get enough funding and foster parents. Their deaths are entirely preventable.

When I reflect on the lives saved by Camp Cocker, I get teary because so many of the dogs were the ones that animal lovers beg for a rescue to save but most rescues pass them by because they require expensive medical treatment. You have all seen the pictures of the particularly down and out cockers and people begging Camp Cocker to save them. Camp Cocker has become the go-to rescue when a situation seem hopeless. We all cheer for the lives saved but rescuing these precious souls cost money - a lot of money.

I think of Timmie, a dog that had been hit by a car, shattering his pelvis. He was in pain, in the Bakersfield shelter with little hope of being rescued. A volunteer for Camp Cocker drove from Los Angeles to Bakersfield on Christmas Eve to rescue him. It turned out it was an old injury and by the look of how emaciated he was, he had been out on the street trying to fend for himself while on three legs. He fully recuperated and I have enclosed a video of him shortly after his surgery, with Jenny, another cocker who probably would have died in a shelter because she had cataracts and could not see well. Jenny got cataract surgery and her then foster mom said she reacted by pressing her face against her foster mom's face and just staring at her. Jenny was subsequently adopted by her foster mom. What a tragic waste it would have been had they both died in a crowded scary shelter. Timmie went on to be a regular visitor at a local nursing home and would get in bed with the residents and allow them to pull, hug, and tug on him. He was an absolute shining light. I am currently fostering a dog named Stevie and a dog named Alvin, both who would have surely died had it not been for Camp Cocker. Alvin had bad knees and that one, correctable problem would have surely cost him his life had Camp Cocker not stepped in. Then there is Stevie who was older, black, blind, and deaf. The usually hardened shelter staff just didn't have the heart to put her to sleep and so she remained there for two months. After Camp Cocker rescued Stevie, she was able to get cataract surgery and see again. It turned out that she was younger than she appeared and is a happy, very humorous little being who is full of life and love. I also think of Stuart, a beautiful, young cocker spaniel who had been hit by a car and the owner turned him into the shelter stating that he couldn't pay for her care because he was remodeling his house. Camp Cocker went right down, rescued Stuart, and got him to a vet where he could get pain medication because he was in a great deal of pain. He had his surgery and also fully recovered. What became of Stuart? His mom did a lot of training with Stuart and he was so good that he was a star on an episode the television show, Saved, on Animal Planet. Not only did he fully heal but he now does agility!

There are countless stories like the ones I just shared and right now, today, there are many Timmie's, Stevie's, Alvin's, and Stuart's sitting in scary, dirty shelters waiting to be saved. Sadly, Camp Cocker cannot go get them and take them out of what can only be described as hell because there is no more money to do so. Please, do consider making a donation to Camp Cocker, whether big or small, every cent goes directly for the care of the dogs. Please also consider reaching out to people you know who might be willing to donate, and spread the plea far and wide. Camp Cocker's actual donor base is quite small and so the standard donations are not enough and the dogs in shelters awaiting euthanizing need us all to reach out, dig a little deeper, and help them. Some of you have become monthly donors and if you haven't done so yet, please consider being one. Also, for those you who are monthly donors, could you possibly up your monthly donation amount, even by just a few dollars? It is too sad to see so many beautiful dogs die in shelters simply due to lack of money. Camp Cocker has the time, the facility, the love to help many more dogs if we can just start raising more money. This is truly a matter of life or death! Thank you for your consideration! Here is a link to a new chipin and all donations will go directly to Camp Cocker and the dogs!

Below is a link to one of the most beautiful rescue stories I have ever known, and it was only possible because Camp Cocker rescued Stanley. Your eyes do not decieve you, he is not a cocker, but rather, a pitbull who simply had to be saved. I have also posted a few other videos of the dogs mentioned above.

Stanley video - Just One Dog

Timmie and Jenny video

Stevie in the shelter

Stevie seeing for the first time right after her surgery. She kept looking out the window

Alvin the bumblebee

Stuart helping out with home checks

                                                                   Alvin loves kids

Stevie the love bug
                              Stuart, little did he know he was about to become a television star
                                                           Timmie smushing Alvin

I could use your help

Camp Cocker, the rescue that saved Alvin, Stevie, and Timmie are experiencing a significant drop in donations, which means they can't continue to rescue as many cockers as before.  Camp Cocker means so much to me because of the dogs they are willing to save.  My dog Timmie had a fractured pelvis and would have surely been put to sleep had Camp Cocker not rescued him.  They knew that he was going to require an expensive surgery and most rescues pass those dogs up.  Timmie completely healed from the surgery and spent time visiting elderly people in a nursing home.  He was the most joyful dog I have ever known.  Then there was blind, deaf old Stevie who sat for months in a very scary shelter until Camp Cocker rescued her.  Then Alvin, who in the world other than Camp Cocker would have rescued him because not only was he odd, but he had two bad knees that required surgery.  So, I feel compelled to help try to fund raise for them but I don't know how.  I am wondering if any of you have any suggestions on how to fund raise?  We can't do events because it cost money to hold events and there is none of that at this time.  I am wondering if any of you know good ways to solicit donations online?  My sense of urgency comes from the fact that on any given day there are at least 10 cockers going into LA shelters and only about half make it out.  Camp Cocker currently has about 25-30 cockers and although they have room for more, they don't have the funding to pay for their medical needs.  If any of you have any suggestions on how I can help fund raise, please do let me know!  Thank you so very much!

P.S. I found Alvin's food bowl about 1/4 filled today and it was two hours after breakfast time.  He had clearly been distracted by something, wandered off, and forgot about the food in the bowl.  Good grief!  To make matters more nutty, my mom just brought over dog cookies for them and then gave them a wee bit of milk so they could have cookies and milk with grandma.  Yes, we are both mentally losing it and it's all the dogs fault!

You Know What Alvin?

I almost tripped right over your head.  This is what I heard from my mom as she was trying to make dinner for us in the kitchen.  It was much nicer than what she had said the night before when Alvin hurt her and I heard her say something similar to thank you, but it was definitely not thank you, and she said it four times in a row.  Alvin's response?  To just get closer to her.  While cooking in the kitchen she told Alvin and Stevie who were glued to her, "you aren't very well behaved children.  You're the kind of kids that only get invited over once for a play date."  Luckily Stevie is deaf so these comments aren't a blow to her self esteem and Alvin isn't phased by it a bit. 

On a different note, sure enough Alvin has to go to the right every time when exiting the back door and so we will keep the sprinkler schedule for 5:00 AM and hope it doesn't interfere with the time when he has to go potty.  So odd!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Waring With Elvis

I tell 'ya, give a bird an inch and he'll take a strawberry.  Elvis, the bird is now stealing from not only me, but Stevie as well.  For those you who don't know, I caught Stevie last strawberry season going out early in the morning and although she was completely blind at the time, she would go to each strawberry plant, sniff until she found the ripe strawberries and then gingerly pluck them off and eat them.  Unfortunately, I discovered this late in the season and even after putting the containers up out of Stevie's reach, I only got to enjoy one of my own strawberries because the season was over.  This year I have been waiting with baited breath, knowing that the strawberries would be all mine.  I was confused because although they started producing early, I have only found one ripe strawberry, with all the others disappearing when they were still white or very light pink.  I am naive and thought that since it's early in the season that they had just shrivelled up and died.  That was until I witnessed with my own two eyes, Elvis ripping me off blind.  Not only was it Elvis but he brought his wife (they're married in the bird world) to steal from me as well.  I have since concluded that any being named Elvis cannot be trusted, even though I named him.  There was only one Elvis and the rest are just sorry impostors.  Clearly it's not enough that not only do I let Elvis come into my house for meals but I leave a plate of food out for him for easier access.  Before I could think things through logically, I made my best crazy person impression and went out with a handful of the dog food he likes and actually yelled, "Elvis, don't eat the strawberries.  Here's your food."  I immediately heard myself and prayed the neighbors didn't hear me because I sounded like a lunatic.  I guess I am now going to have to cover the strawberries, but it might serve me better to conclude that clearly, I am not meant to grow strawberries.  I found myself genuinely irritated at the bird because if I'm not going to get to enjoy the berries, I would far rather them go to Stevie. 

As I write this, Stevie is curled up next to me on the couch and has kicked me at least 10 times, trying to get me to move so she can have more room.  Long ago, I concluded that I get no respect from the dogs but now I realize that even the bird world is thumbing their beaks at me.  Maybe I should get a goldfish.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cuddle Time With Alvin

I continue to enjoy bedtime with Alvin because he allows me to scratch and pet him all over when we are on the bed together. I also love waking up to him lunging across me while not having a care in the world. I have been trying to spend more time sitting on the ground outside with him because he is most relaxed while outdoors and feels far less threatened when I am sitting at his level. He has been able to spend progressively more time standing next to me while I scratch and pet him. I have found that if I look away from him and don't talk to him that he can stand there for longer. I look like an idiot sitting on the concrete on the side of my house (his favorite sunning area) while pretending to be super casual, as though I hardly notice that I'm petting him. We have had a couple of sessions where I was able to pet him until my arm got tired.

The great news is that the nose tapping, sniffing behavior towards my mom has temporarily ceased. He still likes to be around her but is able to leave her feet and legs alone. I do often find him to be on the outside part of the doorway, looking in at her while she is seated in the chair and he sits and watches her like a TV. Anytime she moves, he runs in to see if maybe she is about to do something fantastic that he can be a part of.  If you are the center of Alvin's affections, you just can't help but feel important and valued.  I hope it doesn't go to her head and starts being difficult to be around because if one is to gauge Alvin's response to her, she's nearly famous.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Chef Grandma

My mom came over last night with some groceries she had bought for the dogs and cooked them dinner.  She prefers not to cook at all and certainly not for animals, but she has recently decided that she would like to make occasional meals for Alvin and Stevie, and yes, Maddie, the cat gets in on the action too.  The dogs could not have been more excited and stayed at her feet the whole time.  While waiting for the food to cool, my mom came into the living room and sat down.  Alvin stood and stared at her for a long time and then he just couldn't wait any longer and jumped up, placing his two front paws on her knees and remained there while just staring at her.  She kept getting her face closer and closer to his and he leaned in to get his face closer to hers, while furiously wagging his little tail.  He knew what was up and just couldn't wait another minute.  He was persuasive because my mom got up, checked the temperature of the food and announced that dinner was served.  They both gobbled up the dinner, while I took Maddie's into where she can be found nearly 24 hours a day, which remains the biggest, plushiest "dog" bed in the house.  She cooked enough for breakfast tomorrow and listed off the ingredients she is going to buy to try new meals for them.  We were discussing what a good cook she probably is in the canine world when she took a piece of gum out of her mouth and I told her just to place it on a plate that was on the coffee table and I would dispose of it later.  I know Stevie didn't see her do it because I saw where she was at the time.  Within 60 seconds, Stevie had located the source of a little piece of chewed up gum, and got on her back feet to lift the gum off the plate.  I didn't point out the fact that we could hardly gauge her canine cooking abilities when one of her two test dogs was thrilled with a piece of chewed up gum.  Just when you 'ya think you're all that, a dog can humble you within seconds.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Go Left

I was sitting on the couch last night and saw Alvin madly circling and then squat and poop on the floor.  The back door was open and I was perplexed as to why he was going inside because he has become fully house trained and only goes potty in the house when it's rainy outside.  I ran outside and started calling him and he started to go outside, would begin to turn right, and then run back in the house.  I realized then what the problem was.  Normally the sprinklers turn on early in the morning but I had turned them on for an extra cycle.  There is only one small patch of grass very near the right side of the house.  I went out onto the patio where the sprinklers don't spray.  The problem was that Alvin was unable to turn left towards me and kept insisting on going right where the sprinklers were spraying.  He repeatedly tried to come out but had to retreat back inside because of the sprinklers.  I have never noticed it before but I suspect that his pattern when exiting the house is to go right and he was unable to deviate from his pattern, even when there is an entire patio that is sprinkler free.  I choose my battles and this wasn't one where I was going to spend time trying to "train" him into deviating from his autistic pattern and instead, I just won't have the sprinklers on during probable potty times.  If it's not the rain, it's the sprinklers.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Behind Door Number One

I have mentioned this before but the fact that Alvin is completely unable to hear a noise and then process where the noise is coming from became glaringly obvious the other day while we were visiting my mom's house.  He clearly hears fine but he has no ability to process the noise to determine where the noise came from.  It is one of the oddest things to watch and I am definitely going to get it on video so you all can see it.  Here is what happened at my mom's house.  All four of us went outside (Stevie included) and I shut the french glass door behind us.  We all walked passed Alvin so he saw that we were not in the house and he saw my mom and I sit down on chairs about 30 feet from the door.  Alvin stayed near the door and so I called him.  He heard me calling and began looking in the glass as though he thought we were inside.  He started to do his circles and would look in our general direction. I stood up, started loudly calling him while waving both of my arms and yet, he could not spot me.  He continued looking through the glass and then circling.  I was stumped that even when he would circle and look in our direction that he was unable to spot me wildly waving.  His vision seems fine but he can't focus on anything when he is circling.  I finally had to walk towards him, while continuing to wave my hands and call him.  I walked up the ramp to the porch, which is noisy and ended up having to tap him on the back before he was able to spot me.  He looked so relieved to have "found" us.  He then trotted down the ramp, spent a minute with us, then turned and went back up the ramp, went to the glass door and started the insanity all over again.  He again started looking through the glass door for us and the more I called him, the more he was convinced that we were inside the house.  My mom and I just looked at each other without ever saying a word.  I would have thought it was just a matter of him really wanting back in the house but the look (three times) of relief when I tapped him on the back and he "found" us made it clear that he really thought that somehow we were in there.  We ended up packing it up and all going inside because it was too frustrating for all three of us otherwise.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Alvin's Locked in the Bathroom

My mom boiled two whole chickens (show off) and made a rice and chicken concoction for the dogs.  Alvin loves it but it's giving him absolute fits because he can't eat it in mouthfuls and ends up spitting most of out.  Not only does it create a mess but about nine years later, he finally finishes his meal.  Stevie is able to pound the food down and then acts like a crazed lunatic as she approaches Alvin's bowl and lunges for his food.  I have tried every which way to fend her off but it's useless because Alvin takes one little bite, spits it out, and then goes to each piece of rice and tries to eat it again.  It it such a mess that I can't feed him in one of the carpeted bedrooms and so out of desperation, I locked him in the bathroom to finish eating today.  It turns out that there is a huge gap between the bathroom door and floor, which I had never noticed before because I have never been on my hands and knees trying to peak into my own bathroom.  But there I was, craning to see if Alvin was indeed eating or just circling himself silly.  It turned out to be a combination of both.  He must have enjoyed it though because he let out a burp so loud that I think it put a dent in the door.  So, now he will be in the bathroom when eating my mom's home cooking, which ironically is where I often end up after eating my mom's cooking..........ducking now.

I Can't Compete

Yesterday I took Alvin over for an unannounced visit to my mom's house.  When first arriving, Alvin started dancing around searching for the bologna, but due to his cognitive limitations, he couldn't remember which room had the bologna in it and began frantically searching throughout the house, looking in boxes and on shelves that are low to the ground.  As I was opening the refrigerator my mom informed me that she had bought a new package of bologna just for him.  After feeding him a piece and visiting with my mom, I was getting ready to take him home and my mom put on her best grandma guilt voice and said, "well, give him another piece before he leaves."  It was at that moment that I realized that I am competing with the grandma factor.  Whenever Alvin goes over there he gets all kinds of treats and so of course my house is boring because I'm the mom with the healthy food.  I quit eating meat about five years ago but since I used to eat meat, it doesn't particularly gross me out but I have discovered that bologna is disgusting.  I have also discovered that the grosser the meat, the more the dogs love it.

While we were at her house, Alvin started to do his pee-pee dance and so I went outside and called and called him to come out too.  He becomes so fearful that he is going to miss something that he acts like a child who holds their crotch and dances, but doesn't want to take the time to go to the bathroom for fear they will miss out.  I finally got him on the lawn and he immediately urinated.  When we came back inside I very excitedly told my mom who then crouched down to tell Alvin how smart he is.  I told her that it seemed like he was learning where to go potty at her house but she interrupted me to claim that he already knows.  She was referencing the fact that on two occasions when he had to go, my mom sensed it before I did (I still don't know what she saw), opened the back door and he immediately went out and went potty.  She remains very proud of the fact that she called it before I did, that I argued with her that he didn't have to go, and then both times he went straight outside and pottied for her. 

When we left her house, Alvin didn't put on the brakes or try to run back inside before the door shut.  We both praised him and my mom being on a high from the display of normalcy then shouted, "see if he can find his way back home."  I just looked at her while Alvin continued to loop around me and I asked her how in the world we could ever determine if he was actually headed for home when he won't walk in a straight line.  She then laughed and made fun of us while we looped back home.  Alvin won't hold it against her though because she's the bologna grandma and his loyalty runs deep.