June 26, 2005

Congratulations Reboot, an AKC Certified Good Citizen!
Posted by Jess in Announcements

On Friday, Reboot passed her exam with flying colors and became an AKC Certified Canine Good Citizen.

"I passed! I passed! Bring on the treats!"

The test consists of 10 steps (pass/fail) that proves that a dog has great manners overall. An owner must also prove their committment to the dog (dog license, rabies vaccinations, etc.).

(Something else you can do is microchip your dog. When Reboot was a baby, had her microchipped. Just about every vet, shelter, and even animal testing lab has a wand. Every incoming dog, lost collar or not, gets a wave of the wand. The chip is the size of a grain of rice, and is inserted in the same spot in every dog. The result is a number, which is cross-referenced in a giant doggie database. Should we change our contact information, the microchip is still valid, we just change her database information.

It's a very inexpensive operation, and now I never have to worry that she'll lose her collar and be lost to us. Contact your vet if this is something you are interested in!)

Why would anyone want to get this certification? Well, CGC is currently the only AKC certification available to mixed breed dogs, but it's so worthwhile. First of all, the classes are fun (for the dogs AND the owners), and secondly, it's pretty cool to have a dog that behaves well enough in public that we can take her pretty much anywhere.

Thirdly, many home insurance companies are getting wind of this certification, and the results are great! Currently, thanks to some pretty irresponsible owners, many dogs are on a "list" of breeds that will void your insurance policy completely should you own one. These dogs include Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, to name a few.

Nationwide Insurance, for example, will now insure dogs that are on this list if they are a CGC. More information can be found here.

Now, onto the test itself! The test consists of 10 items that Reboot must pass.
1. Accepting a friendly stranger. The evaluator approaches us, and Reboot must sit politely. That means NO jumping.

2. Sitting politely for petting. The evaluator pets Reboot, and she must not be agressive or shy.

3. Appearance and grooming. The evaluator checks Reboot's ears, paws, and brushes her gently. She must be well groomed, and allow the evaluator to do all this.

4. Out for a walk. We must take Reboot on the leash in 'heel' position and turn right, left, about turn, and stop.

5. Walking through a crowd. Still 'heeling', we must walk through lots of people. Reboot is allowed to notice these people, but again, NO jumping.

6. Sit/Down/Stay on command. Reboot must 'sit', then 'down', and finally 'stay' while we leave 20ft. away, and then return.

7.Coming when called. Again, 20 ft. away, Reboot is called and must come directly to us.

8. Reaction to another dog. Another handler and dog walks up to us and Reboot. The two dogs must sit politely while the owners chat.

9. Reaction to distractions. In the midst of distractions (such as people on walkers and crutches, bright red umbrellas opening and closing in front of her), Reboot must not panic or show agression.

10. Supervised separation. Reboot, on her leash, is handed over to someone else for three minutes.

Hopefully, animal-assisted therapy is in our future, even though we just heard that the Therapy Dog test is pretty darn strict.

Good dog Reboot, good dog. We love you. And we promise not to tell anyone that you accidentally punched out the screen window the other day. Whoops! Did I just use my outside voice?


June 20, 2005

Canine Good Citizens and Funny Signs about Seatbelts
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

Everybody wish Reboot good luck on Friday... she is taking her AKC Canine Good Citizen test. I'll post more about it after Friday (whether she passes or not), but for now, it's the first step in her becoming a therapy dog. We'd ultimately like to be able to bring her into nursing home and children's wards in Hospitals, so here's hoping.

I'll tell you on the next post in detail about what the actual test entails (entails, I crack me up), and Reboot's got everything nailed! Down, stay, heel, leave it, other dog distractions, having her paws, ears and teeth touched, etc.

It was funny in class to see 20 dogs all lined up against the wall in a "down stay", while 20 dog owners stand opposite them 50 feet away. If I am ever in a drop-in class again, I'll take a picture. It's a good one for a caption contest. :-)

The only cause for concern is the separation test. Reboot must be separated from us for three minutes while she stays with someone else on a leash. She does get agitated and whiny, however we've been practicing. Ironically the other German Shepherd in our class has the same problem. The instructors shook their heads and said, "always the female shepherds...", so it must be a protective issue, I'd imagine.

Wish her luck, our Reboot's worked SO hard the past two years. Pass or not, we love her anyway.

That said, after Reboot and us had a well-earned game of Frisbee after work last Friday, we headed to Tom and Melanie's house for some pizza and movie watching. Actually, we all love The Fifth Element, so it really turned into movie quoting rather than watching, but anyway... after pulling out of Tom and Mel's apartment complex, we passed this sign on the way out. After a quick glance, yes, we had to back up to make sure we read it right.

Thanks Tom, for sending us the pic!


June 16, 2005

Back to Basics - Internet training. The RIGHT way.
Posted by Jess in

End users pay a lot of money to have someone fix their computer of spyware and trojan viruses. Corporations spend millions on both internal and external IT support for the same reasons.

If users and companies spent the same money on *prevention* rather than damage control, it's a far better value, as well as helping restore the Internet to the original purpose it was intended for. I hate cliches with a passion, but give a man a fish... this is no different.

There's no doubt that this is a hot topic for ANY user, and the facts prove it. There were many courses offered in computers (intro to PCs, Surfing the Internet, Excel 101, etc.) for the spring semester in my town's Adult Community Education and Enrichment program.

Due to the spring, attendance was down, and most classes have been cancelled in all topics. In the computer classes alone, one remained with 8 people signed up... Combating Viruses, SPAM, Spyware and learning Internet Privacy. This was the class that I taught. These four ideas are all closely related.

The class was a great success, and all the users were shocked at the amount of information they revealed about themselves and others on a daily basis. Is your username "Jess0476"? I can guess you were born on April 1976. I now know your age. I also asked how many users had ever forwarded a message out to many people. A funny joke perhaps? Then I asked who had ever checked the very bottom of the email for a signature file of the original sender to delete first.

I have my curriculum all set up, I'd love to get into touring companies and sharing what I know. The class is 4 hours, but can be paced for longer. This was a two parter, each week for two hours. Even then, it seemed to me a lot of information for them all to take in.

I'm researching the technicalities of doing such a thing, and I've already done it for some of the smaller companies in Rhode Island. What would really be worthwhile is to know the facts cost-wise. Did the companies end up saving money on the number of infected and spyware-ridden PCs being reduced?

It's also easy to see how prevention topics like SPAM, viruses and spyware/adware must be brought to the workplace. Based on my experience, a single computer infected with a simple trojan and spyware (CoolWebSearch anyone?) can take up to an hour and a half alone to completely eliminate all problems. Wouldn't it be worth the money to educate the user so it doesn't happen at all? Teaching users red flags and warning signs is a great tool for them. A timely example: The recent Michael Jackson 'suicide' email virus came to user's inbox disuised as a news story. If a user takes a few conscious moments to think about it, isn't it a little strange that they are getting a random news story via email? Who sent it? And why would they all of a start sending me news? Could be sketchy! Critical evaluations are a must.

It may be a little more of a challege to train corporate users. Residential users vs. corporate users is like home-renters vs. home owners, there is no incentive to take care of it if you are a renter. It doesn't cost them to get their work computer fixed, and they don't have to do it themselves. In fact, they get a break from work when their computer is down!

From a marketing perspective, if any company is considering this training, I'd make a point of noting to them that the information is transferrable to their home computers. Interest will pique. :-)

June 10, 2005

A helpful bank teller...
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

I always make my deposits to the same ATM every week. Me being the math whiz that I am, I usually end up adding up all the checks on the back of the deposit envelope before I seal it (I never remember to bring paper OR a calculator).

I got a letter a few days ago about a discrepency in my deposit amount, seems I *said* I deposited $18 more dollars than I really did.

Turns out I had, as I sometimes do, transposed "79" and "97". The teller included photocopies of all the checks to prove the total.

Just to be even more helpful in helping me realize how I could have made a mistake, she also photocopied the BACK of the deposit envelope , where I had my chicken-scratched math that came out to the right number. :-)

June 08, 2005

Rain dancing...
Posted by Jess in

Let's place bets what will get tapped first unless it rains (5 days and counting without a drop of rain, cloud in the sky, or temperatures under 90 degrees):

1. Our energy.
2. Our well.
3. Our day jobs, currently taken up by tapping our energy AND our well spending all day watering.

June 05, 2005

A new lawn is born...
Posted by Jess in Day to Day

We are now the proud parents of a brand new raised, loamed, and hydroseeded front lawn. Date of birth? 6/2/05, 7k sq. ft, 4 inches. Name? Lawny Kitaen.

No, we don't have any children. But in suburbia, is a new lawn really that different? Bleary eyed, we emerge from our house to turn the hose on for morning feedings. We get a small break after that, then we're back for the afternoon watering. This is not after we've loaded up on necessary supplies from Lawns R' Us. After all, we've never had a lawn before. I almost considered throwing myself a shower to get all the supplies we didn't have. Fertilizer, mower, extended hose, faucet with timer, spray bottle, crib, diapers, and a 'binky' for when it gets lonely when we are out of town.

Out of town? Who am I kidding? The first night we had the lawn, we had to go three hours away to a wedding. I almost didn't want to leave, but Matt assured me it would be okay on it's own for a night. I worried the whole time.

We've been the slackers with a terrible lawn up until now. Each neighbor up until this point has had their toddlers, and then moved on to their second child, the lawn. We chose to get the inside done like we wanted first. We painted. Then we hardwooded the entire house. Then we decorated. Our front lawn? It sank. Yes, sank. Literally. Four or five inches, not counting the sinkholes. You see, our house was the house the street contractors used to dump all the "empties" from the other houses during building. There is a board sticking out in the backyard. I don't want to know.

We did need to figure out if we were ready for a lawn first. Once we make the investment, there's no going back. Kids go back to school in the fall, Lawny needs fertilizing. Kids get crooked teeth and require braces from a specialist. Lawny has grubs and will require chemical treatment from a specialist. WE'LL be requiring chemical treatment when we are done with this lawn.

Is it ready for college yet?

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