I have been a bit discouraged lately in regards to Alvin because it seems as though much of his progress has already taken place and I don't know what else to do to help him. I went back and re-read my first five blog entries to remind myself of how far he has come and read about some of his behaviors and issues that I had completely forgotten. Although he is doing far better than when first arriving, I get the sense that this may be about as good as it gets. I worry that I am missing ways to help him and that I am missing important communication cues. I actually wrote Victoria Stilwell about him. She hosts the show on Animal Planet called, It's Me or the Dog. If you haven't seen the show, it's a must see! She is simply amazing and I adore her training techniques and her ability to understand dogs. It was her technique of the sit command that I used to teach Alvin how to sit on command. She is terribly busy but I gave it a try anyway because I think if anyone could give me insight or tips, it would be her.
There is more literature out on canine autism and I spent much of the day reading about it. Alvin clearly seems to fit the criteria, which makes me sad because there is no medication or cure. I am secretly, and unrealistically hoping Victoria will write to say that she doesn't think Alvin's autistic and that there are numerous interventions. Although he has improved, his world is still a scary, confusing place far too often. I have no desire to change Alvin but I do have a strong desire to understand and help him, if I am missing anything. There was some literature about giving autistic dogs a grain-free, meat only diet. He has been on a grain-free diet since arriving in rescue, but that meat only part would require me cooking and I fear that could kill him. I was the only female to flunk home ec. twice and resorted to paying a girl to complete my "projects". Camp Cocker is sending me a Thundershirt. I tried just a tight tee-shirt because some people suggested it but it resulted him him bucking and hopping throughout the house. Wouldn't 'ya know it, all the literature speaks to the importance of not moving an autistic dog from their home or owner........great!
Alvin has another behavior I haven't previously written about. When I put him on the bed, he sits down and wherever he is seated, he remains. I try to strategically place him but sometimes he moves and then sits down again. When I go to get into bed, he simply won't move and a couple of nights ago, I tested it and ended up lightly laying on his front paws and he still wouldn't budge. He then laid on my head and went to sleep. It couldn't have been comfortable for him, but for whatever reason, he just won't move. If I move him, it freaks him out but after trying to endure an Alvin hat, I finally had to move him.
It is the 4th of July and Alvin is afraid of the noises. I am actually comforted by the fact that he is having a normal reaction to loud noises. I did not anticipate it because of his unusual reactions to noises and didn't give him a sedative until about 9:00 PM, after I saw him pacing, circling, and the ever-telling stress signal of his mouth half open. He doesn't jump or startle at the noises but he is now lying down asleep but panting in his sleep. It takes so long, and so much, for the sedative to kick in and so we are going to be in for a bumpy ride for another couple of hours. At least I will know for next year, because Lord knows he will probably be here.