Alvin sticks out his tongue when he is nervous

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Potty Party!

Okay, it's a fact - Alvin not only reads but clearly is reading this particular blog because once again, after venting about Alvin going to the bathroom in the house, he has consistently gone back outside to go potty again.  I think that I just need to keep writing when he engages in unbecoming behavior and then wait for him to read about it and correct it.  Hours after writing about him going potty side, he started to do his potty prance and I opened the door, repeatedly pointed while telling him to go outside and then I took up my station on the couch and watched him like a hawk.  Sure enough, after a few more prances he went outside.  We ended up then having a potty party, which consisted of me praising him profusely and everyone got a few treats.  Maddie and Stevie also got treats and I am trying to instill animal positive peer pressure.

Speaking of peer pressure, I watched an impressive display of intelligence and perseverance and it all took place in my own living room.  This had to be noted because there aren't many displays of intelligence in my house, including, well, particularly including me.  Stevie is my, until recently blind and still deaf dog.  After cataract surgery, she has some vision but it's still limited.  When Stevie was completely blind, she managed to go out into my garden and would eat every one of my ripe strawberries.  I couldn't figure out why I never had any ripe strawberries and blamed it on the birds and rodents until one early morning when I caught Stevie going from each strawberry plant, sniffing each berry and evidently through smell could figure out which ones were ripe.  She would not take one that wasn't completely ripe but once she found a good one, she would gingerly pluck it off and eat it.  It was really a marvel to see but then I was bitter because I had spent so many hours not only planting the strawberry plants but also fertilizing them very often for maximum berry production.  There had been a lot of work, even involving me going out with a flashlight to pluck off the offending, strawberry wrecking insects that came out at night and I would hand pluck each insect off.  After all that work, Stevie was robbing me blind (pun intended) and because she would sneak out there at the crack of dawn, she always beat me to them and at the end of the summer I had only managed to get one, yes,I wrote ONE strawberry for myself.  It turned out to be no coincidence that after strawberry season was over that she began to sleep in until often noon.  Today I looked at the clock at 11:00 AM and she had finally managed to get up and I took note of the time because it was kind of an early morning for her.  But watch in a few months for Stevie to be back up at the crack of dawn because that seems to be the best strawberry picking (or stealing as we refer to it here) time.

So clearly she's always been a crafty little thing but tonight I finally discovered the mystery of another eating behavior she has. I store their dry dog food in plastic containers that have a latch on them.  I have been forced to put the containers up on my counters or on the kitchen table because I woke up far too many times to find the entire container knocked over, the lid unlatched, and all dogs (and sometimes even the cat) having the feasts of all feasts.  Until tonight I thought that Stevie managed to knock the whole thing over and that on impact it somehow managed to pop the lid open but tonight I discovered that it is far more sophisticated and borders on brilliant.  I couldn't even get upset with her because any dog that is that smart deserves extra kibble.  What she does is to go around the container and sniff and feel until she locates where the latch is.  She then is able to take her teeth and pull down and then out to release the latch.  The latch is not at all easy to get off and requires two separate, quick motions.  She has already managed to figure out that if she steps on the pedestal of the bathroom trash can, while then putting her head under the lid when it pops up that she can get into the trash but this latest discovery takes the cake.  The food bins are on wheels and I have caught her on her hind legs pushing the container and I realized tonight that after she's smart enough to pop the latch that she then likes to knock over the container because it's far more convenient to eat if her food is strewn all over the floor.  Historically, this has made her extremely popular with the other dogs in the house and I have caught them lined up just waiting for her to complete the task.  Tonight when I saw her unlatch the lid, I went over and latched it again.  This threw her off and she started searching for the latch, thinking it must be somewhere else.  She carefully sniffed and mouthed the lid, inch by inch.  Alvin was carefully watching her and about the cutest thing I have ever seen was when Stevie gave up and Alvin imitated what he had seen and sniffed nearly the entire lid also.  He then gave up but I think he is under the impression that sniffing the lid makes it pop off.  Alvin has a vested interest in keeping Stevie around because I think he is under the impression that Stevie has an extra powerful sniffer that can even pop latches open.  I think Stevie is a god right now in Alvin's eyes.

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