Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dogs: Neurotic, Houdini, & Hallucination

Pete has been a Fischer for almost a month but we're seeing all sorts of interesting behavior come outta this little guy. He seems a bit neurotic where he'll act up but it's not regular. After a few weeks of trying to fix his behavior, I called up a friend who has a LOT of experience with dogs. It appears that Pete wants to be #1 in the pack, we're enforcing that Max is #1, and Max is not enforcing that. No wonder why Pete is so confused! Pete is trying to work out pack order and we're interfering which is making it much more difficult. So we're going to let the dogs work it out and just make sure no one damages anyone else. Hopefully since Max has no wish to be #1 and Pete does, they'll work it out relatively quickly.

We moved Elmo to a different foster home today. He had adopters come see him last sunday and they absolutely loved him. Actually they originally met Elmo at a different foster home during Christmas and knew he was the one so they applied to LRR with the sole purpose of adopting Elmo. LRR made them see other dogs to make sure Elmo was the one. I think they'll make a fine home for Elmo and will help him through his puppyhood. While he was here, he got a LOT better about night outings. After a few more days of 5-6am wakings, he moved to 7am so we were MUCH happier. He does have a rather unique trick though. He's the only foster dog we've ever had that can open the crate door. Elmo hates crates and can't be left alone in a crate for more than a few hours or else he turns pretty destructive which is why he was sent to us. Well, earlier this week I went out for a few chores and put him in the crate. Imagine my surprise when I came home and three dogs met me at the door! I think he banged the door enough times to loosen both latches to get out. He's escaped twice while I've been out, thank god he didn't cause any damage to the house at all.

Lastly, on tuesday night I had the best dream. I dreamt I was walking our street with Sheba by my side. The dream was incredibly clear and the day was beautiful outside. In my dream, I knew Sheba was gone and she was simply a hallucination that only I could see, but I could also bend down, hug her, and pet her. She was happily trotting next to me with a grin on her face. I'm amazed at how real that dream felt. When I woke up, it didn't feel like a dream, it felt like a memory. It put me in such a good mood through the day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Now for the waiting (& studying)

Finally mailed off my audit package to PMI so I can take the PMP exam. Since the global center is located in PA, they should receive my package in the next couple of days. It takes them up to a week to process all the information and if I pass the audit, I'll get an email with a confirmation to take the test. If all goes well, I should be able to take the test by the end of next week, early the week after.

The audit package wasn't too hard to put together. Mostly just need all my old managers to verify and sign my work history records. One of my bosses retired and lives in Ohio..thank GOD for facebook! He was more than happy to get the paperwork, fill it out, and send it back to me. I met my other two managers for lunch (at different times) where we chatted about old times and I got their paperwork finished. I have to thank PMI and the audit since both my lunches were quite enjoyable.

I have to also provide proof that I've attended the PM-related classes in the past that I put on my application so I had to track down my certificates from those classes, copy them and add to the packet.

Lastly, I had to prove that I did have a bachelor's degree, again adding a copy in the audit package. That provided me a chance to relive a comic memory of Sheba. For those of you who graduated from College Park knows that during graduation you don't get your degree. It gets mailed to you in a brown tube several weeks later so there isn't a chance of any mixup. I got my degree in the mail and just tossed the tube in my room as I left for work. When I got home, I realized I made a small boo-boo; Sheba thought the brown tube was a toy and chewed a large section apart....OOPS. So I finished my illustrious educational career by having my dog eat my degree!! I thought it was fantastic so I never replaced the degree and just stored it away in the (mostly) intact brown tube. I found the tube a couple of days ago and copied the degree to add to the packet. Picture of degree below, pardon the coasters but it won't lay flat after 12 years in a tube. Plus I thought the themed coasters were rather appropriate to use.

So really, although the audit was a bit of a pain since I have to keep studying so all the information doesn't dribble outta my ears, it allowed me to meet up with my old managers and relive a great Sheba story. All in all, that's not a bad outcome at all.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh boy, he's one of those...

After getting Pete, we were going to wait a month before fostering again so Pete could acclimate; however we realized that Pete needed someone to play with and Max wasn't up to the job. So we've now got a new foster in the house that may be too much even for Petey. Yet another chocolate foster named Elmo. He's a year old, and definitely still a puppy. We seem to have hit the jackpot on chocolate fosters in the last 6 mos. He and Pete are extraordinarily similar in appearance. They both came out of Caroline County shelter, so they may be at least half-brothers.

While I've mentioned the term puppy in the past, I usually mean mentally since most labs don't settle down until 3-4 yrs of age. In this case, Elmo is both physically and mentally a puppy. He still needs to fill out a bit, he's got the attention span of a gnat, he definitely has energy to burn, and he's still got puppy-bladder. That means for the past few nights, he tells me about 4-5 hrs after bed that he needs to go outside pretty bad. Thank god he's housebroken and he knows to at least notify me but it's tough getting up in the middle of the night. As a puppy, he still has a hard time settling down at night so he spends a lot of time moving back and forth from the dog bed to the couch. Unfortunately as a light sleeper, I get to hear his entire walkabout.

Doesn't help that the night before Elmo came, we woke up to a small Petey crisis. Pete had ripped open a stuffed toy and eaten some of the fluff inside (first dog I've ever seen that actually ate the stuffing). That night his body decided that it was not digestible. Mike and I woke up to Petey jumping off the bed and making retching noises. Quinn had trained us very well. Mike grabbed Pete and moved him into the bathroom. I up-ended the nearest trash can and guided Pete's face toward it so the mess would be contained. What a team!

At this point, my brain is rather fuzzy from lack of sleep and I don't see any end in sight. I have a feeling I'll be up every night to let Elmo out sometime between 2-5am. At least Mike will take care of Elmo on the weekend evenings so I can drug myself into unconsciousness and hope to catch up on sleep then.

PS. Elmo is really rather sweet and well-behaved for a he just needs a bigger bladder!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Various bits of life

We got a nice beautiful snowfall yesterday which is already starting to slowly melt away this morning. It was even more enjoyable since we were at home in the warmth, watching the snowfall outside. We had to take Max to the vet that afternoon so I called them to verify they were still open. They wanted to close early so we took Max a little earlier than the original appt. This was the best and fastest vet visit EVER! Since lots of other people had cancelled, and the vet office had rescheduled other appts, we were the only ones there. When we arrived, most of the staff was just up front dawdling, including the vet. We got there and immediately got taken into the office where Max's vitals were taken. Our vet came right after that and we were out of there in 30 minutes flat with no waiting. It was wonderful, I wish we could have snowstorms everytime we needed to take our dogs to the vet. (Max is fine, just a little conjunctivitis. He got some antibiotic eye drops)

With Mike back at work, I decided I better start looking for a job too. I put my resume out there back in late November and December and only got one nibble but it didn't work out. I've noticed that PMP (project mgmt certification) seems to be the new "in" thing for PM positions now, so I figured I might as well work towards mine. I took a PMP bootcamp (one LONG week of class) and put my application (which took FIVE hours to complete!) in for the exam. I got a response back yesterday of approval so I submitted my payment for testing. Unfortunately I was one of the 10% that is randomly audited. That means I have to track down my previous managers, have them review and verify my application for accuracy and sign the verification record. So now I'm in the midst of finding my various managers so I can do this. Unfortunately that means I can't take the test when I was hoping, originally the end of January. I have to wait for all the paperwork to be signed, send it back to PMI, wait for their review and approval, then I can sign up for the test. I've been spending this week studying like mad to cram all the bootcamp info in, but I've lost some steam knowing that I have to wait now. Hopefully I'll be better motivated next week to restart the studying cause this is a tough exam and I really don't want to have to retake it. I think the entire PMP cert process is very much modeled after the CISSP cert process. I can't wait until the whole thing is finished. I better find a job after all this work!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Late Xmas stuff

I meant to post this stuff much earlier but silly me forgot to take pictures before I gifted the presents. This year my sister, Jen, asked for some knit socks. I had made my first pair around Thanksgiving and she liked them so much I gave them to her. So I ordered 4 different colors with the plan to knit up 4 pairs of socks for Christmas for her. *snort*...this is where you knitters and needlecrafters will start laughing hysterically. I admit being a bit overly ambitious but I was still at least able to finish 2 pairs by Christmas. I used the same pattern for the previous socks just using different colors. I still have two more pairs to do, which I promise to complete before next christmas *big grin*. I plan to use different patterns this time to give them a little more depth, plus it gives me a bit of challenge too.

Coincidentally one of Jen's gifts to me was late too so I can post it in this blog. I had to share even though she and I are probably the only ones that "get it". When we were growing up we weren't really exposed to a lot of popular culture. We'd listen to the radio but really we didn't listen to anything specific except for one record that we LOVED! Keep in mind we were still in elementary/middle school so we hadn't formed opinions on music yet. Anyways, our parents had a 45 (remember records?) of the Bay City Rollers single "Saturday Night". We would play that over and over and sing with it. It still brings back fond memories. So Jen found an actual record album from the Bay City Rollers, framed it and gave it to me for Christmas! It's definitely one of those cool memorable gifts you never forget about. I can't wait to find a place to put it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It's 2008 already?!?

I can't believe it's already 2008! It feels like just a couple of years ago that we were oncall for the famous Y2K bug in 1999, waiting with bated breath for all the ATMs to fail, the traffic lights to lose their minds, and the world to come crashing to a halt. Was that really almost 10 years ago? Time definitely seems to move faster each year and I have to get used to dating everything '08.

2007 was overall a very mixed year for us. Mike was stuck in chemo for the first few months of the year but he had a successful surgery to remove his stricture and for the first time in years he seemed to be in remission from his Crohn's disease. All of Mike's various health issues made us realize there was more to life then just working. We made the decision to leave work and spend 9-12 months traveling, spending time together, visiting friends, and visiting family. The second half of the year was great with our long-awaited 17-day Mediterranean cruise, visiting family and friends in NY, working on the house, spending time together and just enjoying the time off. I lost Sheba to cancer in October which was a major blow for both of us. There are still times when it literally hurts to think about her but other times when I can reminisce at all her silly antics.

This was also the year that my parents did some major cross-country driving sometimes causing Jen and I to worry. They spent three months traveling in their minivan all over the US. Most of the time it was great, but there were definitely some moments when we wouldn't hear from them that Jen and I would think all sorts of terrible things were happening. I think we learned that our parents can actually take care of themselves and not to worry so much, which was good because they also spent a few weeks traveling to Canada and a couple of weeks traveling south to FL later in the year.

I'll be interested to see what 2008 brings us. We've already added an addition to our family. Mike's got a new job with Comcast. I plan to get my PMP certification with the intention of finding a "real" PM position in N.Va. Hopefully we'll also do a really fun vacation this year too.

It's a boy!

Today Mike and I signed the adoption contract for Pete, he is now a Fischer. We're quite thrilled to have another dog in the house. Pete has such a cute face, I'll have to be very aware of Pete's good looks so that he doesn't "cute" me into giving him things (ie food). Sue put a Pooh "It's a boy" blue balloon on our mailbox for us to see when we came home this afternoon. She's so silly, and we loved it.

I've had mixed feelings about adopting Pete for the last couple of weeks. I wasn't sure I was ready to adopt so soon after Sheba's passing but I also knew I really liked this dog and felt like this was the perfect home for him. The longer he stayed with us, the more I bonded and a few days ago I was ready to admit that I didn't want him to leave. Pete's been returned twice to the rescue for his incessant barking and apparent separation anxiety but at our house he's completely comfortable, he doesn't bark, and he couldn't care less if we leave the house (other than to make sure he gets his treat). It's also great to have a dog that plays with the foster dogs and keeps them occupied. So hopefully the third time really is the charm.

Since Pete still has some puppy tendencies and he can be a bit of a bully (more on that later), I've been working with him daily on obedience training. I'm happy to say that Pete is a smart cookie. He's quickly learning the basic commands and variations on those commands. Next set of sessions will be done outside where there is more stimulus to keep him challenged. He's definitely enjoying the sessions and I keep them only 10 minutes long to prevent boredom.

So we've learned that Pete is not a submissive dog, unlike the past three dogs we've had. Strangely though, Pete is also not a dominant dog based on his behavior with strange dogs outside and at the dog park. Pete is just a plain bully! He'll boss dogs around at home that he knows will give in. Petey doesn't bully Max (unsure why), but he's bullied Austin and Simba. He doesn't do it often, just once in a while to show he's the boss of them. At first I thought it was a pack thing, but when my sister-in-law's dog was here, Pete did not bully her at all. Faith is a dominant dog and I think Pete knew that so he didn't give her any trouble. I don't really think it's an issue as long as Pete knows we're the boss of him. That means I can't spoil him as much as I spoiled Max, Quinn, and Sheba but I think (hope) I can manage to keep some limits and boundaries with Pete.

We're currently taking a month break from fostering so we can continue to work with Pete and get him acclimated to his house without constant changes of new dogs. I'm very interested to see if he's going to be better or worse with the foster dogs once he knows this is his permanent home.