Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Here's hoping for a warm winter

I don't have a doggy door and while Alvin is learning how to let me know he has to go potty and/or learning the concept of holding it, I have been leaving my back sliding glass door open 24 hours a day.  Now that I have written this on the internet, let me provide my address and directions to where the valuables are.  Don't be alarmed because two factors prevent me from being burgled.  First, I don't own any valuables.  Second, I have realized Alvin's hidden talent as an exceptional guard dog.  Alvin gets a little mixed up when it comes to his fear response.  Instead of running away when afraid, he runs towards whatever is scaring him, stops about three feet from whatever it is, and then when he isn't scared anymore, he runs away.  You can't win them all but I figure that we will use this oddity to our advantage and if I can just teach him to bark or even to do that loud trucker burp on command, he could run towards the intruder and be one intimidating burping/barking force with all of his 18 pound badness.  Well, I don't really know how much he weighs because I would have to hold him while I stand on the scale and with Alvin's fear of being held I can only imagine how well that would go.  Right now he only needs surgery on his back legs but I fear that if I tried to hold him for any period of time that he would jump down and need a full body cast.  So, back to our issue at hand.  The sliding glass door situation has worked until now because with winter here I am beginning to freeze my butt off.  I broke down and closed the door a few times, which initially sent Alvin into a whirling dervish of circling frenzy because it was a change and made him nervous.  I have noticed that whenever the door is shut that I am a hyper-vigilant mess watching him to make sure he doesn't go potty in the house.  It is particularly important that he not go potty in the house because I have learned that if he does it once, it throws him off and we spend a couple of days having to re-learn where to go potty.  Alvin's anxiety is usually a hindrance for both of us but for the last couple days I have found that there is one situation where it has been very helpful.  When the door is shut and Alvin has to go potty, his little eyes get really buggy and he starts running back and forth between the living room and the door.  Although that probably sounds like a clear cut cue, it is easy to be mixed up with a myriad of other reasons Alvin runs around but in this case, if one watches very carefully there an additional frantic quality that indicates it's a potty call.  The problem is that once I realize what's up, coupled with his buggy eyed frantic look, I tend to involuntarily leap up and run to the door, which of course scares him and he starts circling and won't go outside because he thinks a crazy person is holding the door for him and so I have to go in the other room so he feels safe enough to go outside.  It's a mess but it's better than having a mess in the house.  I know he wouldn't make it the whole night and so the door stays open during the night and I am learning the true meaning of the saying, three dog night.  It could be one long, cold winter and so I selfishly hope for a short, unseasonably warm winter OR that Alvin finds a way to wake me up in the night to go out.  You can definitely place your bets on a short, warm winter because it's far more likely to occur.  In the meantime, I am definitely counting our blessings and it does not escape my notice that learned very quickly where to go potty and that he is learning to communicate his needs.  In the beginning of this blog I wrote a lot about knowing that Alvin was trying to communicate and my frustration at having no idea what he was trying to tell me but in a relatively short amount of time Alvin has increasingly communicated what he wants and I am starting to learning his circling, whirling language.  As I write this, Alvin is sitting about five feet away from me and is staring intently at me and this is an example of a time when I know exactly what he is trying to tell me and it goes like this, "get off that butt you been sitting on for an embarrassingly long amount of time, waddle yourself into the kitchen, pick up the bag of treats on the counter and hand it to me.  No, not one treat, hand me the bag."  And this is one of many times I will pretend not to understand him.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alvin wants his own computer

Since Alvin doesn't like to be on the couch or the bed, he is never on my level when I am on the computer, until recently when he had the impromptu jump up.  I was watching the Camp Cocker video of the dogs, Brandy and Carmel and Alvin took one look at the screen and stopped in his tracks.  His eyes followed the dogs wherever the went and he kept going to the back of the screen to see if he could find the dogs there.  When the dogs in the shelter began to bark, Alvin went into over drive, searching for those doggies.  He absolutely loves dog videos.  I tried other videos but Alvin prefers the dog ones.  I told him we could share my computer but I wasn't always going to watch dog videos and I haven't seen him on my bed since.  He may end up being the first dog with his own computer......kidding.

I have noticed that Alvin also loves the mirror in my house.  He is so smart in that when he gets in his bed at night he positions himself in such a way that he is facing the mirror and then will watch me through the reflection of the mirror.  This allows him to keep an eye on the bedroom door and keep an eye on me at the same time.  He doesn't acknowledge the TV at all, although I am realizing that I have never turned on Animal Planet for him and so I will get back to everyone on that one, but he is one of the few dogs I have met that is very aware of mirrors and computer screens. 

He has been back to circling a fair amount today.  I am not sure what is up but I think that he might be bored.  We were unable to go to the dog park today because it's closed on Wednesday's.  We do have a date with another dog to go walking on trails tomorrow.  That could end up being quite a scene because I am also taking Timmie and we need a wide circumference because of Alvin's looping and so I don't know how that is going to turn out while walking with another person and a dog and trying to actually have a conversation with my friend.  I suspect this may be a one-time invitation deal and we will be back to circle walking by ourselves again.  Stay tuned......

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jealousy has never looked cuter

Alvin, Timmie and I all went to the dog park again today.  Every time I visit the dog park I am more convinced that it is not dogs who need training and we need to stop calling it dog obedience or dog training, but rather refer to it as basic human competence class.  It's difficult for me to watch people rattling off the same command over and over again while watching the dog clearly having no idea what the human wants.  The most comical one is to watch people using the leave it command when clearly they never taught the dog what leave it means.  Sometimes it's comical and sometimes it is depressing but whatever the case, it is clear that it is always the human being that needs the training on how to communicate with the dog. 

Alvin did well today and we met a lady who has a dog named Benji who had similar fears and appears to have probably had more deprivation than abuse in his life, which I suspect was Alvin's case also.  Benji had to have surgery to remove fleas that had burrowed under his skin.  Four years later he is a beautiful Tibetan terrier with a coat of hair that would be impressive in a show ring. 

There were no bigger dogs and so Alvin showed very little interest in the dogs and then I was relieved to see the big, overweight beagle show back up but apparently after Alvin gives a dog the sniff over, the relationship is done because he had no interest.  He did get a bit terrorized by a little chihuahua that wanted to hump him.  I have not seen Alvin show any sign that he knows how to play with other dogs.  I feel a bit like an over-protective parent because I so want him to learn how to play and have fun.  I want so many things for him.

We had another success tonight.  Alvin again chose to go to sleep in the living room but this time he chose a spot on the floor near my mom.  He was a bit hyper-vigilant as it is new for him to be vulnerable like that but between his repeated pop ups and make sure everything was okay, he was able to get a little sleep.

I originally agreed to take Alvin because I knew he was fearful of being touched and that he would be a good combination with my dog who is very jealous of me giving attention to other animals.  I know I am not imaging Alvin's progress because of Timmie's increasing jealously.  He often comes over and physically sits, lays, or stands between Alvin and me.  He also pulled out one of his old tricks of throwing a hip into Alvin's chest, which looks like nothing but is very effective in getting Alvin to have to move further from me.  For the most part Alvin and Timmie get along well and Timmie is good for Alvin's confidence but Timmie is the one being who is not appreciating Alvin's progress.  He goes so far as to whimper and put his paw on my chest.  What has been interesting to me is that Alvin has developed his own sense of jealousy and he is more apt to come and solicit affection when I am petting one of the other animals.  Although I may be on the right track of having two males vying for my attention, I think it's supposed to be human males.  I always come up just a little short.

Monday, October 24, 2011

If only Alvin could be a cat

The first news of the day is that Alvin officially has two followers, Theresa and Kerri.  Once Kerri joined as our second follower it potentially allows us to have a raffle and we may be raffling off the possibility of being Alvin's adoptive parent.  Seriously, I am grateful to Kerri and Theresa for officially joining us.

Timmie, Alvin, Stevie and I all went to the dog park today.  I realized that if I was going to walk blind Stevie, barky Timmie, and looping Alvin that Alvin was going to have to de-loop himself for this trip.  I shortened his leash so that he couldn't circle around us and all seemed to be going fine until I felt a tug on the line as though I had just caught a fish.  It was no fish, it was a chipmunk, Alvin who in response to not being able to loop, put on the brakes, sat his bottom down and refused to go.  I had to reassure him and then I let him do a big loop to get the bottled up loop out of his system and then he agreed to go again.  The best news is that Alvin actually acknowledged me this time.  I realized that when I call him and he doesn't come it's because he genuinely doesn't hear me.  I think he hones in on things and doesn't hear or see anything else, which would be an important thing for a potential adopter to know because this little guy isn't a candidate for off leash walks.  We had a few great moments when he was able to focus on me and I was able to bend down and pet and scratch him all over his body and he was so affectionate and sweet.  He had to be on the small dog side again and he didn't have any interest in the other dogs and went to each person and visited again.  Every time we go he picks a person to fixate on and this time it was a family with a father and two daughters.  What was interesting to see is that another family came and there was a girl who appeared to be about five-years-old and Alvin began to stare at her and slowly started to approach her.  I could see that he really liked her but for the little girl, she was seeing a dog staring at her and what probably looked like a dog stalking her and she got scared and hid behind her dad.  I wanted to approach her and see if I could talk her into interacting with Alvin because he had a whole different look about him when near her and I so wanted to know if he has particular affection for kids or maybe feels more comfortable with them.  I did not approach her because she seemed afraid of him and if you didn't know Alvin, it would look a little creepy. I wonder if his reaction was because he hasn't seen too many kids and was fascinated or if he just really likes kids but whatever it was it was definitely a positive reaction.  I thought the dog park was a bust for Alvin as far as dogs went until I had already put a leash on Timmie and Stevie and was about to leash up Alvin when the gate opened and in came an extra tall, very overweight beagle.  Alvin was fascinated.  I stepped back and watched as Alvin sniffed the beagle to the point that I was afraid his nose would implode.  I finally tore him away but I am hoping that we can find another bigger dog the next time we go.

For the first few weeks that Alvin was here he didn't groom himself but in the last two weeks he has started to groom himself on a regular basis.  He also regularly gets in his dog bed right next to my bed and sleeps through the night.  For the first few weeks he would fight sleep and would try his hardest to keep his eyes open and would jump up at any sound.  He still comes to full alert on a regular basis but he seems a bit more relaxed.  What has interests me the most is that when Alvin hears or sees something that is scary to him he will run towards the object, stop about three feet away, and once he determines it's okay, he then runs away.  His response is the exact opposite of any dog I have ever known.  This reaction makes Alvin a very photogenic dog because he is curious about anything new and since he runs toward the object and stares, he has so many great pictures because it's easy to catch him in those moments before the fear is gone and he has to run away. 

As I write this, for the first time Alvin has laid down in the innermost part of the living room and has gone to sleep.  He has always slept outside of the living room where there is an escape route and so seeing him sleep so far into the living room is surely progress.  Usually this time of night Alvin goes into the bedroom and put himself to bed.  He likes to go to bed early but then he wakes up early in the morning and sits and stares at me.  Every time I move he runs towards me with happy anticipation that I am going to get up and feed him.  I start to feel like the mother who is passed out on the couch and doesn't feed her kids because he looks so disappointed each time I don't get up.  He finally gives up and goes outside to lay in the sun outside my window where he can STILL hear me when I roll over and comes roaring back in to guilt me into getting up.  Alvin wants to come back as a cat in his next life so that he can have food out all the time.

Alvin's movin' up

I mentioned in my last post that I thought that much of Alvin's issues could be due to being left outside with little human interaction.  I based this on the fact that he is far more relaxed when outdoors.  I then began to wonder if his circling behavior could be attributed to being in a small space much of the time.  The circling reminds me of some horses that don't do well living in a stall and start displaying odd behaviors to combat the boredom.  I don't know, but it is clear that Alvin did not have a foundation of regular human interaction.  I also think that Alvin may be a nervous dog by nature and that some of his issues are developmental ones, such as his trouble with licking.  Alvin would have trouble licking the side of barn.  He just can't figure it out and it's hit or miss.  Last night he licked my finger and ended up doing it with the bottom side of his tongue.  He is getting better at taking treats but there are many times when he just can't figure it out.  He hasn't been taking off my fingers lately, which is much appreciated but it still is problematic for him.  As mentioned before, Alvin loves to touch things with his nose which has led to his most adorable habit thus far of giving what looks like kisses.  I often make a smooching noise and Alvin puts his little nose on my lips, which seems to make my day every time.  I am finding that Alvin is an affectionate dog by nature but his fear gets the better of him.......until today!  I bribed him to walk up the stairs and onto my bed with treats and he stayed for a few minutes and then got back down.  It has become clear that Alvin wants to be up on the bed with the rest of us but things are just a bit too scary for him.  My mom took my dog to her house, which allowed me to have more one-on-one interaction with Alvin and as I was sitting on my bed writing e-mails, I saw Alvin start to climb the stairs.  This is nothing new because he will start up the stairs probably 25 times a day and then goes back down as though he is practicing for the big event.  This time, I saw something different in his stature and demeanor and I started to tell him that he could do it.  And bingo he was up on the bed.  This is the very first time he come up, not because of treats but because he wanted to be included.  Ahhh!  This has been my favorite Alvin day.  He stayed for a while, got a feel for everything, surveyed the situation and then calmly got back down, but  not before I was able to scratch under his chin and tell him what a very big boy he was.  It is an odd feeling to be proud of a dog as though he is your own child but today I was so proud of him.  I don't take for granted how scared he is and how brave he is and I think we could all learn a lesson from Alvin.

Foster mom who?

Alvin has had another visit to the dog park but we stayed on the little dog side because I was afraid Timmie would get himself in trouble again with his humping problem.  Poor Alvin, he remembered the joys of the big dog side and apparently the little dog side pales in comparison.  What was of interest is that again Alvin went up to every person and allowed one woman to pet him all over, including his back.  He did some ducking and jumping when people tried to pet the top of his head but he was very taken with people and kept going back to them.  I found myself a bit tense and incredulous when people didn't pay attention to him because I knew how much it took for him to approach people and I was irritated when he was ignored.  I also found that Alvin could care less about me when we are at the dog park.  Apparently he goes completely deaf because he does not respond at all when I call his name.  Alvin is usually very responsive to his name being called but at the dog park, no comphrendo.  It's so pitiful that when he looks my way, I often wave really big and yell, over here Alvin and the problem is that Alvin wears an Adopt Me bandanna so it's clear that I am his foster mom and he won't even acknowledge my existence.  If I had wanted that type of treatment I would fostered a teenager.  I think I am going to get a reputation as being an undesirable foster mom at the dog park.  Whatever the case, he is sure making his case for finding an adoptive home and he may get one simply because someone feels sorry for him and wants to get him away from that mean foster lady.

What I have found very interesting is that Alvin is far more comfortable being touched and approached when he is outside.  He also allows strangers to pet him more than people he knows.  Alvin is terribly curious about everything and I think his curiosity of new people seems to override his fear of being touched.  The more I watch Alvin outside the more I suspect that he was kept outside most of his life.  It seems as though any type of containment causes him anxiety.  I am also starting to suspect that many of Alvin's issues come from deprivation more so than abuse.  As I have written here, I often watched him and was at a complete loss as to what his background was but the more I get to know him, I suspect that he was kept in a back yard with very little human contact.  I suspect he was with another dog(s) because although he has no idea how to play or interact, he isn't fearful of dogs.  Alvin has a large scar across his side and so he was clearly injured in some way and he is very fearful of heights or being picked up and so something awful may have happened to him but there seems to be more deprivation than abuse.  Speaking of being fearful of being held, I have had to pick him up a couple times to put him in the car and he did better with it.  He also did much better this time riding in the car.  He was clearly very scared but he didn't appear as though he was having a seizure this time.  We are going to take a lot of short car rides and go through a drive-thru so that he associates car rides with good things.  My only concern is that Alvin is such a maniac for food that I worry that I may create a dog that while passing each fast food establishment will jumping at the window while salivating profusely. 

Speaking of Alvin's food issues, hope springs eternal for him and every time I get up he starts his food circling, (his circling constantly around my legs) in anticipation that I am going to feed him.  I have had to nearly eliminate treats because he got himself so worked up that it truly became a hazard to walk in my own house.  With that said, Alvin can look downright pitiful in his never-ending campaign for food and often goes and sits beside the food container while staring at me.  I can take it but it just rips my mom apart and so tonight she told me that I needed to be giving him a bedtime snack because waiting 12 hours for food again was too much for him. I explained to her that a lot of people only feed their dogs once a day and we both remarked that that type of system would cause Alvin to get sores on his butt from all the hours he would be sitting by the food container waiting.  But just when Alvin loses hope, his foster sister, Stevie tries to come to the rescue.  I was in the kitchen and left the lazy susan open and luckily I heard rustling just as blind Stevie was lifting the entire box of dog treats out with her teeth.  I rarely use the lazy susan and didn't even know there were treats in there but little blind Stevie smelled blood in the water and was lightning quick.  Too bad for both of them that the kitchen was officially closed for the night.  Plus, in my bid to get Alvin to like being on the bed, all treats are fed there.  Again, another reason men are flocking to my door to date me! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Alvin's running with the big dogs

Oh boy oh boy!  Did we have an experience.  Alvin hit the dog park today and he may never be the same.  Timmie, Alvin, and I had a covert mission to sneak out of our own house because I just couldn't take the two of them and my blind foster dog, Stevie too and I knew if we played our cards right we could use the fact that Stevie prefers to get up some time after the crack of noon and I decided we would leave early when she would probably still be in her morning coma.  I did feel downright ridiculous turning to the dogs, putting my finger over my lips, repeatedly saying, shhhh but once Timmie realized what was up he and Alvin leaped around like two goons and made a great deal of noise.  Luckily Stevie doesn't hear well.  The only problem came when I realized that I had left my keys on the bed - the bed Stevie was in.  After tiptoeing in and safely getting out we were on our way.  Alvin doesn't like the car and I always feel just horrible seeing him afraid but he seemed to actually handle the ride well and I want him to start associating good things with car rides so they are not so traumatic for him.  We got to the dog park and a whole new world opened before Alvin's eyes.  There were probably about 20 dogs and for the first couple minutes Alvin played it cool and laid low. He is the most curious dog I have ever met and he just has to go see everything for himself.  I think that has been mistaken at times for Alvin being friendly or becoming bolder but in reality I am finding that come hell or high water, he simply must investigate.  So, he began walking up to people with his Adopt Me bandanna on and you can imagine the scene he caused.  He really honed in on one man and had a difficult time tearing himself a way from him, which was interesting to observe.  Then Alvin realized those furry little creatures were dogs and he lit up!  Alvin LOVES big dogs!  He LOVES them and wouldn't leave them alone.  It seemed to have a lot to do with the rather unfortunate reality that Alvin can walk underneath them and sniff their weenies.  Alvin's love for big dogs was so extensive that he was purposefully very naughty with me for the first time.  My dog Timmie made the unfortunate mistake of trying to hump a female yellow lab who ended up rolling him and Timmie was very shaken up.  I decide that he needed to go to the little dog area even though it's usually no fun over there.  I walked the three feet to put him in and turned around expecting to have Alvin next to me like he had been five seconds before and I see him trotting away.  I begin to call Alvin and he keeps trotting away faster and the louder I call the faster he trots away.  There was no cause for concern because the dog park is not only fenced but the entrances and exits are double fenced and he certainly wasn't headed towards an exit.  The problem was that I looked like an idiot and Alvin didn't care.  He then started his circle thing, which made it worse because the only time a human being can look dumber chasing their dog is when the dog literally has them going in circles.  What really got me is that he kept looking back and then speeding up when I got close and I was starting to get dizzy.  I don't know how I caught him but I did and I had no choice but to carry him because he had circled us out to the middle of the dog park and the leash was on the fence.  Normally Alvin is afraid to be picked up but all be darned if he didn't sit up just big as Pete.  I took him to the small dog side where there was only one other dog with Timmie and you would have thought that I shot him.  He was genuinely upset and went from trotting and playing to sitting by the gate staring at the other side and every time a dog would enter or exit that side he would stand up wagging his little tail like no tomorrow.  What made me feel very bad for him was that for whatever reason he saw a St. Bernard come in and he was fixated.  He ran along the fence line and got the St. Bernard's attention and they greeted, pressed against each other with the fence separating them, and generally mooned over each other.  Unfortunately for Alvin, the St. Bernard had a lot of play partners to choose from on his side and left Alvin to stare longingly through the fence.  I felt bad but I couldn't have the two dogs on separate sides and I couldn't trust Alvin to ever come back to me if I sprung him out of the little dog side.  We waited a long time for other little dogs to come but no one ever came and we headed home.  I was feeling really good because both dogs had ran, skipped, trotted and played and I glanced back at Alvin in the backseat to see what I was sure would be a look of gratitude on his face.  Instead I see Alvin looking as though he was having a seizure.  There were big spots of saliva on the sheet he was sitting on, his eyes were buggy, he was panting, and he was shaking from head to toe.  When he is very scared his face actually quivers and he was a trembling mess.  I pulled over but then what?  This isn't a dog that can be physically comforted and so I went for my only option and started trying to find remnants of left over snacks.  Sure enough, I found something but even food couldn't stop his shaking.  I raced him home wondering what to do, how much this had damaged him and wondering whether he had had some sort of a stress induced seizure. I opened the car door, he jumped out, I led to in the house, and the trembling stopped, his eyes de-bugged and he looked at me like, sucker!  It is only now as I type this that I realize that faking a seizure is such a good way to get out of being grounded for making your foster mom look like the dog park jackass, circling around like a lunatic.  Well played, Alvin!

By the way, we arrived home an hour later to find Stevie still fast asleep on the bed.  It is now 1:30 in the afternoon and she still hasn't gotten up.  I guess when I give her breakfast in bed it leaves no motivation to get up but I'm going to get tough and only give her until 2:00 and if she is still sleeping I am going to really consider making her get up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Those who can do and those who can't teach

I used to teach a  16 hour class on behaviors and interventions for abused and neglected children and I emphasized the importance of not assigning a time limit to a child's healing process.  As human beings we tend to inadvertently have time expectations on when other human beings should be through with the majority of their grief or trauma.  When someone losses a loved one they have full license to break down at inopportune times, be profoundly depressed, or need comforting for the first year of the loss.  If during year two this is still going on everyone tends to get a little uncomfortable and by year three most are downright put off and statements are made about the individual not dealing well with whatever has grieved or traumatized them.  It is the same for children who exhibit behaviors due to trauma or neglect but unfortunately as adults we tend to put a much shorter time frame for healing on them. I thought of all of this when getting Alvin because he is so cute and so vulnerable and I knew it would be tempting to want to try to speed up his process and I kept reminding myself that only Alvin knew how much he could handle and that when it was too much he would retreat and that I needed to allow him that sense of safety.  And then I turned around and did exactly the opposite. 

I was so encouraged by Alvin jumping on the bed to get my burrito  and subsequently sleeping on the bed that I wanted to recreate the experience because it made ME happy. Ugh!  So, I put a top sheet over the bed and then sprinkled kibble on the sheet to entice Alvin back up the stairs and unto the bed.  Well, apparently kibble isn't as tempting as a burrito and although he came close to getting on the bed he kept retreating.  I knew that he would have a great time having a kibble treasure hunt and so I finally picked him up and put him on the bed.  He was nervous but Alvin forgets everything when he sees food and so he gobbled up the food, spent another 10 minutes making sure there was none that he missed and then finally settled down to sleep.  I felt victorious and so I did it again the next night but something changed and Alvin was more nervous.  He did manage to lay next to me but then I watched as all of his mouth behaviors started again.  They had all disappeared for over two weeks but came roaring back.  I first noticed that his mouth looked different and that he seemed to be clinching his jaw but his tongue kept peaking out.  He then began to do the pressing of his nose thing all over me and then he got that mischievous look on his face.  He began to "teeth" my hands and my face like he had done before.  I realized that his mouth behaviors, with the exception of him being unable to take treats, are directly due to anxiety or stress.  I wasn't sure if some of them were a neurological or developmental issue but when I saw them all back together it was clear that it is how he physically copes with anxiety.  Alvin got himself off the bed and I saw that our dynamic had changed.  He was cautious again and wouldn't get too close to me.  I was angry at myself for several reasons but one of the primary ones is that I was afraid I had just undone quite a bit of the progress we had made in my quest to push his progress.  It was all a good reminder of the fact that whether it's adults, kids, or dogs, they usually give us all the information we need as to how to truly help but it's up to us whether we stop to really hear what is being communicated.  It is then up to us to decide if we want to truly help or if we just want do something what makes us feel good under the guise of "helping".  I knew from the start that Alvin would often be my teacher and what I am so grateful for is how little he holds my blunders against me because within 24 hours we were right back on track, or in this case we were back on the floor.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If you want a male to stay in your bed, feed him!

So, I got little portable stairs in hopes that I could convince Alvin that it was an exceptionally brilliant idea to get on the couch and the bed.  I wonder if I am the only human being trying to train a dog to get ON the furniture?  I don't mind if he doesn't want to be on the couch or the bed but I don't want him to stay on the floor out of fear.  I have also started to notice that when everyone else is on the bed (I wonder why I'm single?) that he seems to want to be included.  I knew that the power of my love, coaxing, or determination would not be enough to convince Alvin to go up stairs and so I pulled out the sure fire plan and got out some of his dog food.  I sat on the couch with the stairs propped against it and slowly enticed him up the stairs and onto the couch.  I do hate to exploit his eating disorder but I have no other weapons in the arsenal.  I took the stairs into my bedroom but quickly discovered that they were probably far too short for the bed.  I ended up accidentally leaving them propped against the bed and then started to read.  My mom came over a while later with food for me and without thinking, I began to eat while still sitting on my bed and quick as a flash came the mighty Alvin.  He came so fast that I think we ended up frightening each other because all of a sudden we were eyeball to eyeball.  Before he could realize that he had experienced a moment of food-induced psychosis and was now standing on the bed I began dishing out my lunch to him.  I'm realizing that Alvin is running quite a racket over here.  Then the moment of truth, the food was gone and now what?  Well, sweet, brave Alvin took it like a champ and after sniffing the entire bed for any dropped food and then sniffing me for dropped food (and there was some), he laid down and took a nap.  Once again, I questioned if there had been a small miracle that had just taken place.  The problem was that when Alvin is in a new situation he tends to jump up and bolt if anything around him moves or changes and I didn't want to see him circle himself off the bed and get hurt and so I sat in the same position for I don't know how long and questioned whether I was even remotely normal at this point.  I know Alvin isn't normal and I think I have committed to abnormalcy right along with him.  I kept looking at him and I felt so proud of him!  I don't have children and I wonder if this is how a parent feels when their child graduates out of special ed and gets mainstreamed?  I just kept looking at this little guy who couldn't figure out how to even lick correctly and could circle himself into a wall when scared and he looked so well adjusted sleeping on the bed.  I was savoring the moment when my mom knocked on the door, Alvin jumped up burped like a grown man, jumped off the bed and circled himself all the way to the front door.  It's progress, not perfection.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Alvin's joining the rodeo

It has just dawned on me that many of Alvin's behaviors have decreased.  I have not seen Alvin's tongue peaking out of his mouth for days now, and gone are the behaviors of pushing on me repeatedly with his upper lip and nose.  Much to my mother's annoyance he does continue to repeatedly sniff all over her legs and push on her with his mouth but my guess is that is because she brings in new smells.  Apparently there are some people in this world who don't enjoy the feeling of a dog's cold, wet nose planted against their shins 20-30 times in a row.  Huh! Go figure! 

While writing this blog, I am also unravelling the mystery as to why I am single because the predominant themes consist of dogs in my bed and my mom at my house.  I can't figure out why men aren't lining up, while screaming, pick me, pick me.  I think I should put a link to this blog on and see how many fantastic offers I have for dates because undoubtedly I would solicit a certain part of the population and that would be men over 40 still living in their mother's basement, while working at the local video store, and only eating food that is white.  It isn't a sure thing that ALL those men have a dead body buried in the backyard, well, their mom's backyard technically. 

So, back to one of the charming males in my life, Alvin.  I have also noticed that the circling has gone way down.  Don't get me wrong, the boy can still put on a great circle dance but now his circles are much more often his happy circles.  As we have established, Alvin has a special love for food and whenever there is even a remote possibility that there might be an opportunity for food, meaning that I am walking anywhere near the kitchen, Alvin begins circling like a horse in a rodeo.  Have you ever seen reining events where a horse will come to a skidding stop and then distributes much of its weight on its back legs and does those really fast, spinning circles?  Well, rodeo Alvin could be their mascot because when he is excited he spins like a whirling dervish and no, he doesn't seem to mind when he whirls over my feet, through my feet, or even under my feet.  I have developed a dance of my own and that consists of hopping, jumping, and standing on one foot while I try to just get to the kitchen without one of us breaking bones.  The only difference is that his spinning dance does not include swearing, whereas my often does.