Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Play Time is Over!

Some of you may recall that Alvin used to have a near nightly ritual of playing an odd game with me where he would kind of mouth my hand.  It was very cute!  I wrote about an incident that occurred about three months ago when Alvin accidentally clamped down on my finger quite hard, which caused me to pull away and yell.  At the time Alvin responded by looking very concerned and dejected.  It was so pitiful and I tried to reassure him but he seemed quite concerned.  Since that time he has never played his little teething game again.  I have tried and tried to entice him into playing again but he just won't do it.  Isn't that sad?  I miss it very much because he always looked like a puppy when he did it and it was the only thing he did that resembled playing.  He also did a little lunging thing, which was about as aggressive as he could ever muster.  The boy can't remember to go outside to go to the bathroom half the time but he remembers one time, three months ago when I yelped at him.....ugh!  The guilt!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Alvin and Gracie Show

Oh, that Alvin!  It is raining here again, which you all know means that my house is perpetually one big urine puddle.  A couple of nights ago I made him go outside when he started to do his little pee-pee dance.  I went out with him so that he wouldn't feel alone and then the wait began.  It was freezing out there and the cold made me feel like I had to go potty and so I was standing there doing my own pee-pee dance while Alvin refused to go.  He kept forgetting I was out there with him and would press his nose against the glass while desperately popping his head and searching for me inside.  10 agonizingly long minutes later he finally went and he got more praise than a dog can probably stand, which just served to confuse him more.  He doesn't seem to understand praise.  We then RAN inside so that I wouldn't go pee-pee outside with him.

I tried it again tonight but the rain was coming down pretty hard, which made a lot of noise on the roof, which was just too much for his little nerves to take.  First, I had to drag him out there and you would have thought I was leading him into a lion's den.  After standing out there with him for about five minutes, I just couldn't put him through it anymore and we went back in.  He didn't go potty and so far he hasn't gone potty inside either but it's just a matter of time.

Now for Gracie.....what a nightmare!  Her leg ended up swelling up huge from ankle to thigh, turned red/purple, and had places in it that were hard.  It was hot to the touch and she literally tried to attack me when I tried to look at it.  Luckily, she had the cone on her head or else she would have surely really hurt me.  Then all of a sudden her skin broke open in two places and fluid started oozing everywhere.  I took her back in and they hospitalized her.  It turns out that the surgical pin came off of the bone and ended up coming through the skin.  I can't imagine the pain she was in.  So, now we are having to up the ante.  They went in today and took the pins out and she is having to have another kind of surgery next week if we can raise the funds.  Her bone around her knee is just too damaged and so she is going to get a cadaver knee.  I can't help but feel so very grateful to the wonderful dog that has passed away and is giving Gracie his/her knee.  The surgeon is confident that this will hold and will allow her to be able to finally run, play, and jump like all the other doggies.  Most importantly, it will help prevent several painful conditions that would arise from how her knees are now.  It has become such an ordeal and quite discouraging and so I wrote a funny letter from her and put it on the Camp Cocker facebook page, which I am going cutting and pasting here in case any of you want to read it. 

Before I do that, it was fun to watch Alvin's reaction to her coming home again.  Last night with her gone, Alvin was back on the bed with me, which was really nice for me.  With the surgeon having pulled everything out again and Gracie clearly being far more comfortable, Alvin is going to sleep on the bed with us again until she has her next surgery.  I think Alvin is really fine on the floor in his dog bed and although he initially reacted by going to the bathroom all over the house, he doesn't act like he particularly wants up with us.  He just wants the bedtime snack.  But I really miss him when he's not next to me and so I am very happy to hoist him back up, give him his bedtime snack and have that little Alvin breath in my ear.  When Gracie came home Alvin didn't have any response to the cone on her head and his little tail just wiggled and wiggled.  I have mentioned it before but Gracie is really good to Alvin.  He is a very difficult dog for most other dogs to understand but because Gracie can't play due to how her legs were formed and Alvin doesn't know how to play, they seem to relate well to each other.  Alvin often bumbles into or around her and she is so patient with him.  I know it is patience because Gracie has a whole other attitude with Stevie and she has shown her ability to be very inpatient and naughty with Stevie. 

I am trying very hard to help Camp Cocker raise money for Gracie.  They have been willing to try so hard on her behalf and I really think she is worth it.  She loves harder and stronger than most other dogs and humans light up when around her.  I think she has a lot to offer human beings.  If any of you feel so inclined, I have put a link to donate at the bottom of "her" letter.  I hate even mentioning money, I mean I really hate it, but it's a selfish reaction on my part and she does need me to swallow my money shyness and ask on her behalf.  What has been interesting is that for the most part it has been a lot of little donations that have made her care possible.  So if you are thinking that you can only give $5.00 or $10.00 so why bother, please know that it was all of those kinds of donations that have got us this far.  I have become a ridiculous sap in regards to the donations and every single time I see another donation I get teary because there is something so touching about human willing to give their hard-earned money for a little dog they have never met.  Aren't people grand?  Really, we often hear stories on the news and think, what's wrong with people but in actuality, most people are very kind.  If you can't donate, please keep us all in your thoughts and/or prayers.

Here is "Gracie's" letter:

Hi Fans!
Camp Cocker Gracie here and I am so glad that you are out there because I really need to tell you some things. I am back home and my foster mom thinks that I am looking and feeling so much better. I heard the doctor say that my surgical pins came loose, which is why my leg swelled up like I had Elephantiasis, my skin broke open and fluid went everywhere. Now my foster mom knows why I was acting like Cujo when she tried to look at my leg. Helllooo! She isn't the brightest human around. The doctor went back in today and took everything out and I feel so much better!
Why I am writing all of you is because the whole way home from the hospital, I tried to communicate my thoughts to my foster mom by engaging in non-stop chattering and screeching and I had to do it really loud because clearly she doesn't catch on very quickly. I did my best, extremely high pitched screech, which I have heard humans describe as a noise only dogs can hear but when looking over at my foster mom who was driving with her finger in her ear and holding her head, it was clear she could hear it too. What she isn't understanding is my description of what goes on in that house of horrors, aka the animal hospital so hopefully you all will get it.
My foster mom keeps getting on the phone with Cathy and the next thing I know I end up back at that "hospital". They clearly don't know what goes on behind closed doors but I thought since all of you are giving money for it, you should definitely be informed pronto! First, they stick me in a cage. HELLLOO! Do I look like a zoo animal? Then they put a big needle in my arm and smile sweetly at me as they purposefully roofie me, which I am certain is a felony in most states. Here's the worst part of it, they PURPOSEFULLY cut dogs open there! The next thing I know is that I wake up feeling like I partied too hard the night before and I have a lamp shade tied to my head. It makes me wonder if in my drugged up state I was forced to lead a canine Conga line. Then I'm back in the cage with stupid humans pressing their faces up to gawk at me and then I look down to see that those same humans purposefully cut me open again. While sitting there waiting for my foster mom, who is clearly as dumb as a box of rocks by the way, I was able to talk to the other "victims" in there and we agreed that we need to get the place shut down. We just help making a petition and then we will all be happy to stamp our paws on it. Then my foster mom shows up looking as guilty as the parent who forgot to pick up her kid from summer camp and she doesn't even bring me flowers and chocolates because something about chocolates killing me, as if chocolates is my biggest worry. I not only let my feelings known the whole way home but as soon as I got in the door, I squatted and went pee pee all over the floor. HAHA! I'm saving the poop for later tonight after she goes to bed in hopes that she will get up in the middle of the night and step in it.
Now get this one, my foster mom said that I have to go back there and have another surgery but here is where you all come in. She said we have to raise money for it and I suggest that we take any money you give for me and we all go take a trip to the zoo and free all those poor animals. Then we can use the rest of the donations to bail you all out of jail.
My foster mom said that during the next surgery I will get a brand new knee that will come from a wonderful dog that passed away and is giving me his/her knee. She said something about me being able to run and play and not be in pain. She even mentioned me being able to jump up on humans like I always unsuccessfully try to do. Before my surgery, I always tried to jump up on humans to convince them to pick me up and hold me like a baby because I just can't get close enough to humans and I have so much love in my heart that it is constantly overflowing. My back legs don't hold me so I always fell over onto my back but I just got right back up and tried it again. I would like back legs that let me show humans how much I love them. I have never ever been able to run and play like other dogs. I would like to try that, but couldn't we just try a faith healer instead?
My foster mom gets on facebook and keep crying when she sees that people keep donating for me. It kind of makes me giggle when she cries because I'm a little bit mad at her and so maybe you could give again so I can keep laughing at her. It should also be pointed out that she is only the foster mom because I suspect that Camp Cocker has figured out that she ain't too bright and they can't trust her to take on the responsibility of actually owning a dog like me. So, I guess I need three things, two new knees and a real mom. I would also like my own cat. I came home tonight and my cat, Maddie was the first to greet me and I was so happy to see her that I even let her into the lamp shade on my head so that she could wash my face. She then got into my dog bed with me to let me know that at least she understood my plight.
So please consider giving for me so that I can go back in, get roofied, get a dead dog's knee, and then heal so I can get out of this house and find myself a much smarter human to call my own. If nothing else, maybe when I get my new knees I can then back up my bones and run away. Please be sure to send your address so I can come find you.
In solidarity,
Gracie Stanely

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Alvin Might be Getting His Own Fancy New Dog House!

That he is going to be stuck in outside if he doesn't stop using our house as his personal toilet!  He is on my very last nerve.  I haven't been allowing him sleep on the bed at night lately because he is so oblivious with where his paws are and I worry he will accidentally step on Gracie.  With this change, combined with the rain, Alvin has decided, why go outside when you can just squat and go within the comforts of your own house?  I would feel sorry for him with the rain but I have a very large covered patio and it's the only place Alvin potties anyway.  For whatever reason, Alvin has never been willing to step on the lawn or on the dirt and so he insists on walking, resting, and going potty on the concrete.  Apparently a dry, covered area just doesn't cut it when there is rain, the threat of rain, or rain in the past 48 hours.  I am waking up in the morning to at least three large puddles of urine and poop spread throughout the living room/dining room because Alvin has to go in small amounts and then walk and do more.  The worst part about it is that there has been several times when I have stepped in it with bare feet in the middle of the night.  It is just gross and for the first time ever, I have looked at Alvin and don't find him cute right now.  The crazy part is that we nearly freeze to death because Alvin is unable to signal when he needs to go out and so I leave the sliding glass door open 24 hours a day.  I should just shut it when it's raining and admit defeat but I hold out hope while hunkered down underneath two down comforters.

Before the rain even got here I ended up busting Alvin big time!  I often wake up to some poop in the living room and I have assumed it was Gracie because I have had a very difficult time potty training her.  It is because she always walks in a crouched position and so it is nearly impossible to catch her going and take her outside.  Gracie left for 36 hours for her surgery and I'll be darned if "Gracie" was able to keep pooping in absentia.......that was what the look on Alvin's face was trying to tell me.  It turns out that Alvin has been joining in on Gracie's poop party. 

I forgot to mention in the previous post that Alvin has learned how to take treats out of my hand.  You may remember that in the past, Alvin would nearly take off my fingers trying to get the treat.  We were able to get beyond that with all my fingers attached, but because of Alvin's neurological issues he couldn't figure out how to get his mouth open the right way to get the treat in his mouth.  I don't know what changed but all of a sudden he was able to take the treats just like a real dog.  Too bad it came right in the middle of his diet and although he is more than willing to keep practicing, I have to put the breaks on treat time.  It's always something for poor Alvin!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Alvin's Large and In Charge!

Time sure flies and I can't believe it's been a month since I last updated.  Alvin is doing so well!  About three weeks ago it was like the affection switch was turned on and his ability to receive affection skyrocketed.  I can easily pet him all over his body and it no longer has to be in a certain room, or me sitting down, or only when I use my right hand, or all the other constrictions that we were previously under.  He can still get a bit skittish at times but for the most part, he not only willingly receives affection but regularly comes to me and solicits it.  At bedtime he is an affection monster and one would never know that touching had been an issue for him. 

He has been cracking me up lately.  I often bring my laptop to bed with me and it is usually between Alvin and me.  Alvin gets very curious as to what I am doing and so his head is usually right above my computer screen while he stares at me.  Because the screen covers the rest of his body he looks like a floating head and every time I look up I can't help but start laughing, which makes him cock his head back and forth, which only makes me laugh harder.

His looping had nearly gone by the wayside until my mom was gone for a few days and Alvin reacted by continually looping around the chair she sits in.  One night he did it for three hours straight and although I tried to redirect him, I eventually gave up and decided that at least he was burning off calories, which is helpful because he's still big as a house.

I recently took him to the vet because he had been on a diet for over a month and hadn't lost a pound.  I began to comfort myself with the idea that it was his thyroid.  It wouldn't be good if he had an under active thyroid but selfishly I found the idea very comforting because it is embarrassing to have a fat dog.  There is no way to blame anyone but the owner for a fat dog because it's not like the dog goes into the kitchen and cooks himself up a meal.  I know some people find fat dogs to be cute but I am one that finds it upsetting because of the health issues and the fact that the human is the one putting the food in front of the poor thing.  Well, my bubble was burst when the vet was so sure it wasn't his thyroid that he didn't even want me to waste the money to test for it.  He was convinced that the problem is ME!  Alvin got fat in the first place because he so stealthily was able to swoop in and get the food that Stevie left behind.  Stevie used to eat all of her food and it took me far longer than any normally observant person to realize that she was bailing on her food and Alvin served as the canine garbage disposal.  I now try to be very vigilant about this but at times that little devil has managed to fake me out and I end up running across the room while yelling, STOP ALVIN, while trying to get to the bowl as he is equally as intent in gulping it down.  That is better than the alternative, which is that when he is the first to finish his food he walks around muttering while the other two dogs are eating. It is so pitiful and always makes me feel so bad because he is just heartbroken that the other dogs are still eating.  I have never met a dog so food obsessed before.  Literally every single time I get up he is licking his lips and tripping over my feet hoping for food.  I made the mistake of getting sucked into his campaign for cookies and have obviously provided far more snacks than he should have had.  His treats consist of his own dog food so who would have guessed that between stealing Stevie's food and the treats that he would gain so much weight?  The one thing we have not cut out is his bedtime snack.  I started it when I was trying to get him used to being picked up and placed on a bed.  Well, that has turned into mandatory treat time and I am sure there would be a special place in doggy hell if I were to ever take that away from him.  The problem is that every time I get out of bed, I come back into the room with Alvin at the edge of his bed while frantically licking his lips.  He is so hard to say no to!  A unexpected and overlooked factor in Alvin's weight gain has been his significant decrease in activity.  As you all recall, for months he was constantly on the move due to his anxiety and now that he is relaxed, the boy can snooze with the best of them.  It never dawned on me to cut back his food as he cut back his looping.  It's difficult for me to remember that he is between 6-8 years old because he looks like a puppy.  He is now middle aged and he spends a lot of time lounging around like he is Paris Hilton.  He has been on his newest, new diet for about two weeks and it seems as though he has lost about a pound.  It's slow going but hopefully it is working.

The best news is that Alvin's friendship with my newest foster dog, Gracie has continued to flourish.  Gracie is very patient with Alvin and at times I have found them huddled up together at night on the bed, which is always initiated by Gracie.  Gracie recently had knee surgery and was gone for one night and Alvin looped for hours and was clearly looking for her. 

Speaking of Gracie, oh my!  Gracie came to me shortly after double knee surgery so that she could get the much-needed physical therapy.  For six weeks we were driving 20 miles each way, through the lovely California bay area traffic to go to physical therapy three times a week.  Camp Cocker was graciously paying $225.00 a week for her therapy because without it she would end up with painful arthritis later in life.  That all sounded great until recently when we took her for a recheck with a local orthopedic surgeon only to find out that the original surgery was done incorrectly and she needed the surgery redone.  To add to the bad news, we found out that the quad muscles in both of her legs had come disconnected from the bone and all that physical therapy was for nothing!  I have felt so bad for Camp Cocker Rescue! 

She had surgery on her first knee last Tuesday.  It was such a complicated surgery that it took two orthopedic surgeons to do it and the recovery is so delicate that they don't want her to walk but a couple of steps at a time and to be carried in and out to go potty for the next.......wait for it.......FOUR WEEKS!  After four weeks then she can start walking outside on her own to go potty but no more than that for another FOUR WEEKS!  They sent her home with sedatives to be used if she starts to get agitated and wants to actually walk.  The two orthopedic surgeons had never seen anything like her condition and none of the vets or physical therapists at the therapy center have seen anything like her condition.  At about 12 weeks we will then go through the same thing with her second knee.  She will start physical therapy on her first knee in about four weeks and then will have prolonged physical therapy after her second knee surgery.  The icing on the cake is that Gracie has separation anxiety and she can't get herself worked up and undo the surgery when I am gone.  Before this surgery she managed to get a big contusion on her inner back thigh when I was gone by apparently putting her entire back leg through the wires of the crate.  Luckily, I have a job where I am home a lot and I have cleared my schedule to be home nearly all the time.  I am only leaving the house to go teach classes two night a week and other than that I am home. 

We were able to leave the house in the middle of the night last night when Gracie spiked a fever of 104.4 and hadn't urinated or defecated for 24 hours.  We ended up back at the hospital where they hydrated her and gave her much stronger pain meds.  They think her fever was a result of being in severe pain and also due to the inflammation that was caused by the scar tissue of the first surgery, combined with the new trauma to the tissue due to having to be cut into a second time.  Yesterday she seemed to be in a lot of pain and was shivering and we spent the entire day and until 9:00 PM last night with her wrapped in my down comforter curled up against me.  This has been very concerning to Alvin but the one most concerned has been Maddie, the cat.  Maddie thinks she finally owns a dog and I haven't had the heart to tell her that Gracie is her temporary dog.  She finally found a dog that will allow her to groom it and every single night I find Gracie and Maddie curled up, fast asleep all night on my bed.  I think Gracie could take or leave Maddie but Maddie won't allow it and is nearly always found curled up with Gracie.  In the evenings they even share the same couch cushion.  Maddie became very concerned about Gracie yesterday and absolutely insisted on laying between Gracie and me.  I knew Gracie didn't feel good when Maddie was busy grooming her and Gracie gave no protest. 

Gracie is costing an arm and a leg, pun intended but she's the kind of dog that you are compelled to give every chance available.  I was talking to a friend about all the costs and future costs to help Gracie be whole and she asked if euthanasia would be a better idea.  I told her I would go get Gracie and after meeting her if she still thought euthanasia was a good idea then we would discuss it.  Within 30 seconds of meeting Gracie she said, never mind.  Everywhere we go people talk about her "spirit".  I have never heard so many people refer to a dog's spirit and everyone talks about her having such a good, kind, loving spirit.  She was the very obvious favorite at the physical therapy place and the employees that weren't working with her that day would often come and sit down and visit with her during her sessions.  She lets people hold her like a baby for as long as they want.  I had several employees approach me during the two times we were at the vet hospital to tell me how special they think she is.  She reminds me a great deal of my beloved, Timmie so much so that my mom calls her Timita.  She is joyful, kind, loving, and a often very funny.

With all that said, I AM NOT KEEPING HER!  Are you reading this Maddie?  We are NOT keeping her!  Well, we are going to be keeping her for the next six months while she goes through the surgeries and rehab but then she's out of here........please don't tell me this is the path towards being the proud owner of three dogs, one that is sight impaired and deaf, one that is autistic, and one that walks like she is about to go potty.  I wonder if I will ever own a "normal" dog again?