And it has everything to do with Alvin's paw. Since Gracie came into the house Alvin has been in need of more of my attention. I try to be very conscious of petting him regularly and in the past two weeks he has started to sleep right next to me on the bed, to the point that we look like we are connected at the hip. We have started a ritual at bedtime of me scratching, petting him, and praising him for about 20 minutes before I turn out the light. About a week ago, I had just put Gracie and Alvin on the bed and Gracie butted in and demanded my attention. She is usually really good about allowing Alvin to have his time and doesn't interfere but that one night, she got up in my lap and put her face next to mine. I was distracted and began petting her until I felt a little nudge and looked over to find Alvin right next to me and he was pawing me to get my attention back. For those of you who have followed Alvin's story, I don't think any of us would have guessed that he would get the point of not only being able to accept physical touching, but to actually physically reach out to get it.
It seems like the finally frontier was penetrated because I can pretty much scratch and pet his back, top of his head, his chin and chest, even when we are inside the house. He is more leery when I am standing up but the improvement is very noticeable. He comes to me multiple times a day when I am sitting on the couch and places his head in my hand so that I can pet him. What a turn around from having to practically chase him down and try to convince him to let me pet him to now seeking me out and wanting to be touched.
He has always been more receptive to strangers and he has become quite comfortable with strangers petting him over his head and on his back. Last weekend Cathy, the founder of Camp Cocker was in town and we went to meet her, along with a bunch of other people. Alvin sought everyone out and let them pet him whenever they wanted. He honed in one woman and was fixated on her. He was dreamily gazing up at her and was nearly standing on her feet. He was clearly in love. I was so proud of him for being so approachable and affectionate.
When I have to leave the house I place Gracie in a kennel because she has some separation anxiety and she had one tiff with Stevie. She repeatedly growled at Stevie and then bit her. I think Gracie was in pain after a physical therapy session and Stevie kept bumbling into her and she finally lashed out. Stevie is the wrong dog to pick a fit with because she is a scrapper. It may take her a minute to find the offending dog but when she does, she will win any street fight. Gracie got a scolding and she changed the error of her way. Anyway, so I put her in a kennel when I am gone. I place kibble throughout the kennel so she will have something to occupy her. She isn't a big eater and so it is common that she leaves some of it in the kennel. As you can imagine, Alvin is all over that little situation. He will repeatedly get in the kennel and them go back to check just to make sure there isn't something he missed. The other night I heard him muttering and looked to find him in the kennel and him thinking he was trapped. The door was ajar by about eight inches and any other dog would know to just push it the rest of the way open with their nose but with Alvin's spacial difficulties he was convinced he was trapped. I started to go "rescue" him but then decided to let him figure it out. I was talking to him like a person telling him to push the door open, and I'll be darned if he didn't take his paw, place it with the pads against the door and pushed it open, just like a human would do if you were to push a door open with the palm of your hand. It was such a human move and quite interesting to see.
Tonight I decided that "we" would all walk my mom home because she had taken one-quarter of a 5 mg. Vicodin because she inexplicably broke both of her feet and 1.25 mgs. of Vicodin knocked her for a loop. I gathered all three dogs and thought we could pull it off because Alvin rarely loops anymore. I forgot that Alvin is afraid of the dark and he started looping around us like he was in a rodeo. I then had seeing impaired/deaf Stevie and Gracie who basically walks on two legs. It was a fiasco! Not only did we all end up in a tangled mess but Alvin managed to circle my poor mom in his loop and we ended up being a huddled mass of two humans, two dogs, and Alvin about strangling himself outside of the circle. I was frazzled and found myself saying in a disgusted, parental tone, "you know Alvin, I did this because I thought it would be a nice family outing." Who is crazier? Obviously me.