The Ne'er-Ending Tale of a Carpet Alligator
Alex earned himself the nickname "Carpet Alligator" at about ten weeks. I would be sitting, typing nicely on my NaNo story, and suddenly, the Jaws theme would start to play. And from the depths of the pile of our carpet would rise a carpet alligator and *gnash!* There goes my foot.
Alex blends nicely with the carpet. And when he was still little, he seemed very good at worming his way around to sink his little puppy teeth into the hapless foot of anyone daring enough to forgo the pretzel style of sitting for a more languid position.
However, Alex has made excellent progress with the whole foot-biting thing in the past few weeks. When "No!" didn't work, nor did the Softie School of Positive Reinforcement "Get your toy!" and my screeching and crying like a wounded puppy failed to have any effect (nor did dancing around like I was on a DDR machine), then I was forced to get out the big gun: the squirt bottle. A couple of sharp squirts to the top of his head paired with "No!" and he learned the meaning of the word...and to leave my feet alone.
The cool thing about Alex now is that he's learning so much, so fast. He climbs the steps on his own now. He knows "No," "Leave it," and "Drop." Sometimes, he'll even "Sit" or "Off." He leaves our feet alone (for the most part) and my clothes. He still carries things into his lair, but he knows to drop them when commanded. He's discovered the curtains and the wooden base of the papasan chair, so those are projects for the weeks to come. He can jump onto the futon on his own now, so the couch will soon follow.
Every day, it seems, he grows a little more and learns something new. He's also sleeping on his own now, in his crate, without the delicate bedtime game of gradually moving the puppy closer and closer to the crate and then attempting to stand without making a single sound--tough to do on a floor that creaks more than a Polish granny's bones on a rainy day--while closing the door and getting into bed...only to have him wake an hour later crying. Housebreaking is also going very well. He goes to the door now when he has to go potty. Sometimes, he goes to the door only two seconds before he has to go potty and so ends up squatting in the vestibule, but at least it's tile and not carpet and so is easier to clean. We've learned that he doesn't like the rain. On the night that Sharon and Kirsty arrived, it was pouring rain, and he piddled five times on the carpet. We figure that he knew that if he told us that he had to potty, then we'd take him down again into the nasty, cold rain. Operant conditioning is every trainer's friend, but there are times when it can really be a bitch.
Here is Alex at eleven weeks, chewing on his tiny rawhide bone. This was one of the few toys that we could get him to play with by himself when he was a baby. He's since become better at occupying himself.
This one of Alex is just too cute. It's the one that--when we're showing our pile of Alex photos--generally makes people go, "Awwwww!"
Alex had a fascination with our Jack Little pumpkin on the one end table. He would get it from the couch and pick it up by the stem in his little teeth. He apparently shares our love for Halloween! I set up this picture of him and the pumpkin before it got retired to the table on the balcony to make way for the Christmas stuff.
This was still when his legs were short and stumpy. They've since grown quite long and his paws are huge!
The hairy legs in this picture are not mine, for the record.
Alex is pretending not to be thinking how yummy Mommy's Feanorian red Ikea blanket looks....
Alex does have an enemy in the apartment: the door stopper. He loves to attack the door stopper, twanging it with his paws and barking and growling at it. It's quite funny to watch a ten-pound puppy try to look intimidating!
I think the door stop won this one....
Alex can now climb the baby gate. Luckily, my father-in-law rigged up a set-up with the tray tables, some rope, and the gate until our clear plastic "non-climbable" gate comes in. When Alex is put into any sort of confinement, one can almost hear him thinking, "There's got to be a solution!" And usually he finds one.
Step One: "I can get my paws over the top now! This will be easy!"
"Hmmm...wonder if I can get up there? Maybe there's food up there? Something with gravy??"
(And, yes, he would often climb onto the tray tables and "surf" on them while Bobby or I was working in the kitchen.)
He does occasionally behave....
As university-educated and professionally employed parents, we insist that our puppy be a well-read dog. Here he is, off to his geography lessons, taking my world atlas. Too bad it's twenty years old and still has a chapter on the USSR....
In this one, he might be running from a demonic-looking Daddy in the background!
Of course, it ends up in the lair.
Alex insists that there is nothing wrong with metrosexual puppies, even though he is disappointed in Mommy because zebra-print is so 2004!
"Daddy's fingers taste good..."
"...and his hat...
...actually, I'm just ticked because I'm named after Alex Ovechkin and Daddy is wearing a Flames hat..."
"...now I'll consent to pose and look cute. Maybe I'll get a treat?"