Alfie 2.0 Update

We got Alfie, a three year old rescue, in November of 2014.  He has settled in with his “forever family”.  He is Alfie 2.0 because he looks exactly like our previous black standard poodle name Alfie.

Although it surely is just “poodle” traits, he really does seem to be a combination of our to previouse standard poodles, Fletchie and Alfa Centauri.

Aside from the usual commands he has learned “cuddles” a call to our bed for a nap. (He is not allowed on our bed otherwise.)  When he hears me get the microwave popcorn out he gets super excited and runs to tell my wife and back to me again and again until the corn is popped.

He is becoming more interested in other animal like squirrels, ducks, birds and cats.  Actually, one cat, an old wite tom that Alfie loved to make loose its cool.  Alfie Centauri did not play by the extablished dog/cat rules of engagement.  He didn’t chase cats so that they could run away and up a tree where they could laugh at him with seperiority.  No, Alfie initiated a new tupe of warfare.  He would sneak up on the cat, and before the cat could run, he pounced and attacked from the air.  It seems like this interspecies war shall continue.  Don’t know if Alfie 2.0 will adopt the pounce attack strategy.

This is now his house, yard. street and neighborhood.  If you don’t belong here he lets you know with a very deep and loud bark.  So far, no one has come close enough to see if he would growl.

He has another bark too.  He uses this particularly with the grandkids.  He uses this to get them to play.  Favorite game is hide and seek chase, catch me if you can.

He is currently is working on his AKA Rally designations.  Here are some of the Rally things he has learned.

I Didn’t Have The Heart

to take it away from him.

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Alflie was an old dog when he finally caught one of the squirrels that had tormented him his whole life.  They would come up to our screemed in porch and chatter until he chased them and then up the tree out of his reach they would go.  Well, whoever said that every dog has his day, can chalk this up as an example.

Alfie, I am so glad that you finally caught your tormentor before you left.

 

So Alfie is

in the height of his glory as he is surrounded by four female golden retrievers.  Suddenly out of the corner of his eye he spots a male goldie barking fiercly and headed his way.  This goldie is huge!  He must go about eighty pounds, coming like a runaway freight train, dragging his handler, who is leaned back on the leash, both feet splayed, smoke coming off dug in heels straight for Alf.

At first, Alf barks ferocioiusly; but as Willie, the dogs name is Willie, looms ever closer and larger, Alfie stops barking.  The two males sniff and circle like a couple of heavy weight fighters.  Owners feverishly try to keep leads untangled.  The two dogs stop dead, heads down and stare.  I’m not a dog, and I could read the message in Willie’s eyes.  “These are my females!”  Alflie takes a step back, cocks his head and gives the Willie a look.  The goldie’s handler takes him for a practice run on the rally course.  Alfie returns to the females.  Willie comes back, lowers his head and gives Alfie the look once again.  Alfie takes two steps back and all is well.  More sniffing each other but this time with tails wagging.

Now that is nonverbal communication.

ALFIE WEEKS FOUR AND FIVE

 

Another grooming, this time without tranquilizers for anyone. Again no dogs or humans were hurt during the process, but one of the two finished off a bottle of wine later. Here are the results and one cross dog:

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Alfie now goes outside by himself. He has begun to check out his environment. He has noticed squirrels, birds, cats and lizards; but doesn’t react to them. He is getting his “dog” on and now sniffs everything on his walk. His favorite day is trash pick up day with all the interesting garbage cans along his walk. Here he enjoys his after grooming reward, a large marrow bone:

He has learned sit, come, stay and down. He now sits before he bolts out the door. Hey, progress is progress. He no longer responds to blondes and white vans.

Unfortunately, he still obsesses over my wife if she leaves the house. Any ideas? He can go anywhere with us as long as my wife is in sight. We are using a trainer who has reinforced that it takes a rescue dog a long time to accept that we are his forever family, and this is his forever home.

ALFIE’S WEEK TWO AND THREE

Week two brought a second grooming. Ears still filled with wax and dirt build up. As this loosens up it must feel strange to him as he frequently shakes his head and wants his ears rubbed and scratched. We opted for tranquilizers (one for Alfie and one for me) for this grooming since it involved a cut down. Everyone survived, and no dogs or humans were injured during this grooming.

He still will not go outside on his own, but thoroughly enjoys it when we go out with him. We tried to teach him to come. Sharon and I both had pockets full of treats. The idea was that when he was by me she would call him and reward him with a treat when he came. When he was with her, I would call him and when he came reward him with treats. Sounds logical, right? Wrong. Twice he came to her when she called, and twice he came to me when I called. We were so proud, but then he started running from one to the other of us without being called to collect his treats. He figured that game out pretty quickly.
Week three we have been working on “sit”. Alfie does not like to sit. Tried standard approach of bringing treat in front of nose and up while giving command and lightly pressing down on rump. No way! Anytime we touched his rump he bolted. My conclusion is that someone must have held him and hit him on the rump. The new plan was to up the ante with a piece of turkey and offer the reward without reaching for his rump. That worked. Well, almost. He would sit only in the spots we trained with him i.e the back of the SUV and on his bed. Ok, those sound like pretty strange places to try to train a dog, but those were the only two places we could actually catch him sitting. You gotta do, what you gotta do, where you can do it.

 

Alfie seems to understand stay, but can only stay for a short amount of time. Someone has tried to work with him, but it appears the commands were inconsistent. The stay command elicits a wide variety of behavior which so far makes no sense to me. He may come to my side, he may circle to the other side, he may stay momentarily. If I am confused; I am sure he must be too.

 

 

Alfie sleeps in our bedroom on his own bed or on the floor. He alternates between the two places based upon how hot or cold it is. He is just now venturing out of the bedroom and leaving us on his own usually to get a drink of water. The other night though he did hear someone outside, sounded the alarm and ran back into the bedroom. My wife and I are retired. Guess who is not retired and likes to get up at 6:45 in the morning.
We have had three poodles. All three wake us up with this routine. First comes a head shake which makes the ears slap loudly. Then comes the prancing from one side of the bed to the other. Next, comes the whine or poof six inches from the face. Finally, if you open your eye even slightly; you will see a poodle face framed in its big ears staring at you. At which point you have been busted. As far as the poodle is concerned your eye twitched so you must be awake and its time to get up and party with the poodle.

 

The obsession with human females, blondes and white cars seems to be lessening. However, he is still obsessed with and demonstrates separation anxiety whenever my wife is out of sight. The change here has been minimal. But, any change brings hope.

Alfie contnued

 

Alfie is the first “rescue” dog that we have had. However, to be truthful, as a child, all my dogs were strays and always had “problems”.
On the day that the owner brought Alfie to our house, her choice; not ours, she shared with us that she worked twelve hour days and had four more standard poodles and three toy poodles beside our Alf. When she went to work she locked the dogs in a spare bedroom. She also mentioned that he had been placed with a man and his wife, and for some reason Alf had ended up crated and living in the garage. The man returned Alfie to her.
It was no surprise then that Alfie was very clingy to his old mistress and whined and barked when she left. (For later reference the owner was blond and drove a white car.) When he accepted she was no longer with us, he turned his attention to my wife and has clung to her since then. However, he has been a little more adventurous with each passing day.

FIRST WEEK

We decided that because of his previous experience with the crate and garage we would let him stay with us in our bedroom. That night there was a lot of crying, barking and whining along with urinating in the house which was to be expected. The next day there was some of the whining and none of the urinating

Since my wife had promised to walk a neighbors dog while the neighbor recovered from knee surgery, I was tasked with walking Alfie. It was obvious that several people had tried to work with Alfie, but in his training his was not consistent. Although he wanted to pull, it wasn’t with force; and it wasn’t the charge to the end of the lead that our previous poodles had used before their training.
When corrected for pulling with a pop on his lead, Alfie would turn come back to my left side and wait. As soon as I started again, he went to the end of the lead. Sometimes he would stop at the end of the lead; sometimes he would circle around to my right side. He responded to stay, but momentarily. It was apparent that this was going to be tricky, and I would need to let Alfie teach me what he knew first.

The third day we had to both leave because of a tax appointment with our accountant. We figured that he would be ok for a couple of hours. Boy, were we wrong. We returned to find my wife’s clothes from the hall closet along with his harness and leash strewn around the living room and dining room. He had dragged down a bag of treats and destroyed them. He had managed to get our bedroom door open and my wife’s closet door open. He had dragged her clothes and shoes from the closet and strewn them around the bedroom. He left us a definite message because he had urinated in several spots around the house. All this in less than two hours. OK, message received. The separation anxiety and the focus on my wife were going to be our biggest rehabilitation issues and would need to be addressed before serious training began.

We decided that we would take turns leaving and returning to the house in our natural routine except that someone would always be there. The person staying would ignore his crying and barking. It soon became clear that I could come and go with no problem, but that it was my wife that threw him into a panic attack. He was anxious when both of us were not with him and would search for the missing person.

Alfie and my walks were going well. He was friendly and eager to meet most people but would then bark and back away if it was a man. I soon noticed that a sight of a white car would excite him. He also became excited when he saw a woman, particularly a blond. When he met other dogs on our walks he was eager to greet them. They did their doggie thing, and we went on our way.
I walked him in the morning and my wife walked him while I tagged along in the evening. We notice that he was much more relaxed on the evening walk, and by the third night his tail was up and wagging on his walk.

The rest of the week was spent establishing a routine working on lessening his fixation on my wife. By the end of the week, he was still following her wherever she went but not in a panicked state.

What Would You Call It?

We had two standard poodles, Fletchie and Alfie. Fletchie, our white poodle, we lost a year ago. Alfie, our black poodle, we lost this past July. The loss of Alfie was particularly difficult as all our affection was directed towards him after Fletchie’s death. Also, Alfie was very social and could and did go everywhere with us. He went to, the grocery store, Walmart, the gas station, StarBucks, and Home Depot. (He even had his own orange Home Depot apron.)  This is partially why I haven’t been blogging recently. My wife took his loss even harder.

So, about a month ago, someone posted on our community bulletin board they had three standard poodles they had to get rid of or send to poodle rescue.

They were three years old. We debated and debated and finally decided we would go see these three year old dogs. The owner brought out the three poodles, two males and one female. Immediately the black poodle ran over and started kissing on my wife. He wouldn’t let either of the other dogs near her. Obviously my wife liked the black poodle. It was decided; the black poodle was going home with us. So, I asked the owner what the black dog’s name was. “He’s Alfie.” she said. I think our hearts skipped a beat. The owner could see our response and asked what was the matter. We told her our last black standard poodle’s name was Alfie.

We’ve had Alfie for almost two weeks now, and he already is part of the family. I will relate his continuing story later. Here is his picture.

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