Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Around the World in 10 days

Follow the red lines - starting at the bottom of the "v" in North America and following the line east to track my journey over the next 10 days.  

Yes, I leave tomorrow for another business trip to Asia.  Meetings in India and Singapore.  5.5 days of work; 4.5 days of travel.  Or is it the other way around?  I can't keep track anymore.  Even the travel agent remarked at the large number of connections (8) and airlines (5).

What is likely to happen at home when I'm away:
  • Rip will start to go feral due to lack of training and tear up some of my things
  • Ziggy will drag The Husband around the yard and bark unnecessarily in the house
  • Maggie will be her sweet self and sleep a lot

At any rate, I won't be posting dog stuff for more than a week, but I'll try to post some fun from the road.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Water Work at Wagmore

I mentioned in an earlier post that there is lots of work to be done at Wagmore, our property in Washington State.  The Husband and I have been prioritizing and planning.  The thing we decided to tackle first?  The water filtration system.

In order to get all the permits on the house, we had to have the well water tested.  Everything checked out relative to the "this-water-won't-kill-you" standards set forth by the county.  "Great!" we thought.  One less thing to worry about.

Then, in August we stayed in the house for nearly a week.  The water tasted ok.  Nobody got sick.  Then, one night, we decided to give The Child a bath (we find bathing The Child to be part of good parenting).  As the bath started to fill, we noticed the water looked a little yellow.  "Maybe the water will clear out as more runs through the pipes?"

Nope.  When The Child saw the bath he exclaimed, "I get to bathe in pee water!"  Yes, the water at Wagmore looked like pee.  A gentle yellow.  Special.  The Child seemed to think this was pretty funny, but The Husband and I were not so amused so we began to try and figure out what was happening.

We contacted a couple of water filtration companies and they both came back with the same answer.  Our water was safe to drink, but it has lots of iron in it.

Since we have new appliances, new pipes, and new sinks, bathtubs, etc. in the house, we knew this was something we needed to deal with sooner rather than later.

So, when The Husband was back at Wagmore last month, he had a purification system installed.  The system lives in our ugly, needs-a-little-TLC pump house.  We also had a reverse osmosis drinking water system put in the kitchen, because, well, we were in "clean the water" mode.

Here it is- installed and ready to go!

Priority project #1 down, and many more to go.  We'll be back at Wagmore in November, and we'll see what we can check off the list.

Oh, and since water filtration is a little boring, here are some pics The Husband grabbed while he was there...

Denzil patrolling the driveway.

A view of the house from across the street.
So much pasture that needs to be grazed!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rip goes away

The Husband and I have decided that it's best for everyone if Rip goes away for a while.


Is it because that nearly every day he steals my makeup brushes from the cupboard and tries to consume them?  

Why are they sending me away?  
I'm such a well-behaved dog!

Is it because no pair of socks in the house is safe from being stolen and carried around?

But mom, you keep working on my dumbbell hold.
I'm just practicing on socks!

Or perhaps one of the other naughty things I've documented on this blog?
or  Many.  Other.  Things.

Nope.  It's because Rip gets to go do this again:

Rip is going away to be a show dog

I have finally recognized that, with my work travel schedule and family commitments, me taking Rip to dog shows just isn't going to happen any time soon.

So I found a handler who lives nearby and will take Rip with her on the weekends she shows.  This allows Rip to live at home with us the vast majority of the time so I can keep going with his performance training, but still get going in the conformation ring.

This weekend is going to be his first weekend out.

Even though I'm on a work trip, I miss him already.  Who will snuggle with me on the sofa at night?  Who will pester me to play whenever I try to sit down during the day?

The Husband is not-so-secretly looking forward to a (MUCH) calmer house with only 2 dogs - one geriatric, and one a lazy rehab patient.

Hopefully Rip will have fun on his new adventure!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD month 10

I can't believe it has been over 10 months since Ziggy had surgery for his IVDD.  And I don't mean that in a "time flies when you're having fun" sort of way.  Just the opposite really, but here we are.

The progress:

  • Ziggy is now trying to stand on his own more and more.  Sometimes he's even able to walk for a step before falling over.
  • Right leg continues to be doing much better than the left.  Rehab vet thinks it may be partly due to muscle tightness on his left inner thigh, and did some stretching last week that seemed to help.
  • Rehab vet also commented at what a lazy dog Ziggy is.  He's also quite stubborn.  Not the best combo for a quick rehab!

The work:
  • Visiting rehab vet for electric stimulation acupuncture, gentle chiro, and PT each week.
  • "Formal" PT at home is still few and far between.  At about 8 months I think The Husband and I  both just got worn out.  Bad humans.
  • "Informal" PT continues.  
    • I've started grabbing Ziggy's britches (fur on his hindquarters) and having him walk without the sling.  In the sling Ziggy basically just hangs out (see previous comment about laziness), but with "britches walking" he has to support most of his own weight, and he really moves his hind legs.  
    • Ziggy is also asked to stand on his own (we offer slack in the sling handles) when he's out in the yard.  I do not need to hold you up when you're standing, lazy dog.
    • We're putting Z in his cart in the yard more often during those times we can at least keep an eye on him from the house.  Most often he'll just stand there (laziness), but if a squirrel shows up, or dogs walk by, he'll actually move around.  I'm trying to figure out a way to load the trees with robotic, remote-control squirrels so Z will exercise more outside.  I'll let you know how that goes.

On a fun note, the boys still enjoy frapping.  Here's a video I took a couple of weeks ago (you may want to turn down the sound to avoid the background noise of me steaming milk for my Saturday latte).  A couple of times you can see Z push himself up a bit on his left hind.  Go, Z, Go!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Farm logo!

As I mentioned in a previous post, The Husband and I decided to name our property in Washington State.  We chose the name Wagmore Farm, as it conveys doggy-ness and happiness without taking itself too seriously.  It fits with all things we want the property to be:  (dog) friendly, relaxed & happy.

We still really like the name, and decided to take the next logical step (well, logical if you're a marketing/brand person).  We decided we needed a logo for the Farm.

One day I was yammering away about the property name to a friend at work, and mentioned that now I felt compelled to have a farm logo.  This friend happens to be a very talented designer (graphic design is what he does for a living).  He also likes to do some design that is different from his normal day to day work.  My dog-based farm logo request piqued his interest, so he asked me to pull together some info for him.

Since I tend towards thorough-ness, I prepared a creative brief for him which included samples of other farm logos I liked, where we'll use the logo, color inspiration, etc.  I provided this info to him and during his vacation he whipped up nearly 20 options for me.  I kid you not.  He sent me 2 pdf pages of farm logo options.  I was enamored.  I was overwhelmed.  I was giddy!  Unfortunately all of this choice made it very hard to decide which one was the right one.

We polled friends and family, which got us down to three choices.  I then designed a short discrete choice exercise and roped some friends into completing it when they visited our home.  Then we ignored all of that and chose the one that made us smile the most.

And here it is (well, here's a picture of it on my desktop):

We're both so happy with the logo, and I'm so fortunate to have a friend willing to indulge my quirkiness!  Now we're working on a compatible font choice, blog header, etc.  Hopefully some changes will be coming in the next couple of months!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Obedience "must-train" -- The Practical SIT

A strange thing happened to me last week.  Two different people in two different "venues" commented on what a well-behaved dog I have.  This would not be unusual if I were out with Maggie, but it is VERY unusual as the dog I had with me both times was Rip.  Yes, Rip!

Perhaps he's just growing up?  Is he a changed dog?  I wouldn't go that far.

Well, Rip does look calm in this picture.
Until you notice the "I-might-cause-trouble" glint in his eye.

The thing that has changed Rip's behavior in public is one simple command:  SIT

This may sound a little crazy, as sit is pretty much the first thing taught in obedience class, and Rip has been training since he joined our pack.  But I'm talking about a more practical version of sit.

I had an "ah-ha" moment during my first lesson with Bridget.  Between exercises, or when Bridget was giving me feedback, Rip was sniffing, looking around, and wandering to the end of the leash.  Then I had to correct him for sniffing, wandering, etc.

Finally Bridget asked me if my dog knew how to sit.  Of course he does - didn't she see those nice, quick, straight sits while he was heeling?

Oh, not that kind of sit.  

She was referring to the kind of sit that means I tell my dog sit, then I can pay attention to something else because I know that my dog will be sitting in that same place and not sniffing.  The criteria for this sit aren't the same as they are for a "sit stay."  Rip can look around, he can even shift a paw if he wants - he just needs to stay sitting in that same place and keep to himself.

It's weird that this was such an epiphany for me.  It seems so obvious, but the world of "sit" was opened up for me again.  Sit means sit and keep sitting.  I may shift my attention off of you, my dear dog, but you need to keep sitting.  You may want to jump up and lick that small child, but you just keep sitting.  A dog is walking by who you just KNOW wants to be your friend, but you keep sitting.

Since that time I have heavily reinforced the "practical" version of sitting.  Here are some examples:
  • When we're out on a walk and we see another dog, I tell Rip to sit next to me.  When he's sitting, a regular stream of treats is deposited in his mouth.  
    • At first I needed to hold onto his collar to reinforce the sit, and stand between Rip and the other dog, but we've moved on to just sit + treats.
  • If someone wants to pet Rip, he is told to sit.  I then kneel down next to him and feed him treats when his front feet stay on the ground, and his rear end stays in a sit.  
    • This one is really hard for Rip, as he thinks everyone must be licked, so most of the time I'm not yet able to stand up when he's being petted - but we're getting there!
  • When I'm training and setting up for a new exercise, Rip gets to sit.  He gets the occasional treat for maintaining the sit.
This version of sit has allowed me to reinforce the good and quit nagging Rip so much.  After all, it's hard to get into too much trouble if you're sitting in one place.  I can reward the sit and not nag about sniffing, etc.

As a bonus, all of this reinforcement of sit has made my life so much more pleasant.  At last week's soccer game, Rip was a jewel.  He sat as kids petted and hugged him.  He sat as dogs other dogs went by.  (I didn't even have to hold his collar!)  It made taking him to the game such a pleasure.  And, yes, he got lots of treats for all of this good behavior.

I highly recommend training a "practical" version of sit.
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