Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

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?

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