Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Monday, September 12, 2011

Everything good happens on the floor

Alvin and I have started a ritual of hanging out on the floor together.  He seems more receptive to being touched if I am on the floor with him, preferably lying down.  Alvin is a mystery because normally any noise or movement by my mom or me causes him to excitedly charge towards us but then when he gets about three feet away he stops and won't come any closer.  What does that mean?  So, now I am on the floor trying to look casual and non threatening.  He has started to stand over me and if I hold my hand out to him he will take my fingers and place them in his mouth between his upper lip and his teeth and then quickly let go of them.  He is exceedingly gentle and it seems like a baby behavior.  I don't say puppy behavior because I don't know that puppies do such a thing but it seems so young and kind of primitive.  He also does his nose/upper lip pushing behavior all over me and will repeatedly push anything I hold up to him.  What has me most concerned is that it is so clear that Alvin is communicating and I just don't know what any of it means.  He is such an observer and everything about him screams out that he is trying to communicate but I am a bit lost.  I have decided that they only thing that I can do until I learn his language better is to provide an environment that is as stress-free and nurturing as possible.  The last few evenings I have been able to spend about an hour on the floor with him and he is increasingly receptive to being touched but there are clear rules and the biggest one is that reaching above him or trying to pet his head is out of the question.  He has to do a lot of approach and retreat but he seems to feel far safer if he can hover over me and yes, I look ridiculous through all of this.

Speaking of ridiculous, we have taken to only walking at night because we look so stupid walking down the street.  Alvin's looping goes into overdrive on walks and he insists on circling constantly around the rest of us.  When he really gets going he has a tendency to get my legs tied together within about 10 seconds and meanwhile I am trying to lead the blind Stevie and manage Timmie who becomes a cat chaser outside the house.  Not only do I look like an idiot but there has been falling and swearing involved.  So, we go out under the cover of darkness and I have learned that if I hold the handle of Alvin's leash above my head every time he circles then he can keep on looping and I don't get my ankles knotted together.  I want to get Alvin a miniature saddle and a little cowboy hat because when he is looping on the leash he looks just like the little ponies at children's birthday parties.  I am thinking about feeding him more than the other two dogs because with all his looping he is bound to burn off a lot of calories.

Speaking of food, Alvin continues to be nearly frantic in the presence of food.  He eats his meals at such speed that it is difficult to imagine how such a little mouth gets the job done so quickly.  When there is any food any where near him he goes into a frantic, darting, freak out mode that screams, I have food issues.  He is learning how to get treats but I only give them out of the palm of my hand because he nearly takes my finger off otherwise.  He has learned how to negotiate more foods with his mouth but things like a piece of hot dog if it is too big throws him for a loop (pardon the pun) and he can't seem to physically eat it.  He repeatedly places it in his mouth and then has to spit it back out because he doesn't seem to understand to bite down on it.  I am mystified because before I caught on he always managed to bite down on my finger really well when trying to give him treats and so I don't know what the difference is with things he is actually allowed to bite down on.  So much left to learn.

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