This weekend Camp Cocker is having their first annual reunion and everybody who is anybody in the Camp Cocker world will be there. After a good portion of my heart died with the passing of Timmie I had originally decided not to go because I thought it would be too difficult. With the passage of time, I had decided I would attend but now with Gracie here a four hour car ride each way would be too much. She is just learning that car rides aren't going to kill her. I suspect that her only care ride had been to be dumped off at the shelter. During her first few car rides she made a screaming, crying noise as though I had shot her. Even though her only car rides are to physical therapy and some of the exercises hurt her, she loves it so much there and so she is just starting to have a positive association with car rides. But it would be too much and we would miss a physical therapy appointment if we went. Let me tell you that Gracie is a much needed excuse. Having to take Alvin back to all of us fans when he is currently Mr. Chub would be humiliating for me. It would be like showing up to your high school reunion after suddenly gaining 40 pounds. Out of desperation, I couldn't even dress him in a tutu to try to hide the chub because we all know how well that Thundershirt experiment went and so imagine him in a tutu. We would only bring more attention to his overwhelming desire to eat and me ridiculously buying into his well practiced, I'm starving look.
The biggest contributor to his weight gain has been Stevie. Yep, I'm actually shameless enough to blame the deaf, seeing impaired, geriatric dog. Stevie has become a very light eater and we have had to change foods a few times because of her flat out refusal to keep eating food once she has grown accustomed to it. She has lost weight and is too little. I offer her food and she often will eat a little bit and then quietly walks away. Alvin goes into stealth mode and magically appears the second she has left the food. I would love to keep food out for her all the time but Alvin wouldn't fit through the door if I tried that one. She is so finicky about when and where she will eat and so trying to put her behind a closed door has only resulted in her initiating a hunger strike. It's been just a mess and because I have the attention span of a gnat, I often get distracted and the next thing I know, Alvin has eaten enough for the two of them. We started his diet over a week ago and so far he has maybe lost a couple of ounces. He isn't a fan of vegetables and I feel like I have an overindulged two-year-old who only wants to eat french fries. Just keep in mind, it's all Stevie's fault, but you won't get a chance to see Alvin's chubbiness to then blame her because he's currently in the fatty witness protection plan because I am too embarrassed for him to be seen. It's also my mom's fault because when I first noticed he had put on a little weight, my mom said that he looked far better and that he was too skinny before. Clearly, I took that way too far but between my mom and Stevie, they are huge chubbiness enablers. Plus, Alvin literally walks around the house muttering like an old man. He gets very uptight if he isn't grazing like a cow and walks around on a permanent guilt trip that is all directed towards me. Do you see what I have to deal with?
We are continuing to have our bedtime snack because to take that away from him would probably cause a canine psychotic break. I started to give him a little treat at night on the bed as a way to get him used to being picked up because he used to panic when I tried to pick him up. I wanted him to get comfortable enough that if there was an emergency or he was hurt that I could pick him up without him struggling and hurting himself. Also, it started back in the day when I was trying to get him used to being on the bed. With his deep need for predictability, when I get ready for bed he actually starts licking his lips. The muttering would never stop and he would loop himself straight off the bed if I put him up there without a treat waiting for him. The quantity of the treat has been greatly reduced and I swear he knows it because he starts rooting around and then the muttering starts back up. His "treat" is just a few pieces of his regular dog food but the boy likes to eat. We then go into our new reassurance routine to remind him that he's still my number one man. We got into a habit long ago of me saying, you're a good boy Alvin, and I would say it with a certain voice inflection. It started when I was trying to convince him that being touched was safe. Now when I say it, he puts his chin in the palm of my hand and lets me pet and scratch him. I kid you not when I tell you that if I don't do the voice inflection he doesn't put his chin in my hand. He has learned to associate the sentence and my voice inflection with affection to the point that I use the sentence to call him over to me during the day. When I say, you're a good boy Alvin, he will come from wherever he has been and place his chubby little double chin in the palm of my hand.
With the newest changes, he has responded by becoming more affectionate and every night while I am telling him that he is a good boy, he reaches up and repeatedly licks my nose. There is something so incredibly endearing about him at bedtime when he becomes relaxed and shows affection. He's come a long way. He still sleeps right next to me and Gracie is very good about not crowding in on that sacred space. Gracie sleeps curled up in a ball next to my head and Alvin is usually found plastered to my side and I can't help but feel like a very fortunate person when surrounded by two of the gentlest, most unassuming little souls on earth.
Gracie should be Alvin's ideal little buddy. Alvin likes dogs in general and she is so submissive that she acquiesces to him. When else ever in his whole life will he meet a dog that lets him be the boss? She never tries to eat his food and doesn't do anything that would cause him distress, but Alvin watches Gracie gimp around and looks at me like, "Mom, this one's broken. Can we exchange her for one that works?" Instead, he should appreciate that I searched the world over to find a dog that makes him look like the "normal" one.