Sunday, July 31, 2011

On A Tear

I've been on a grooming tear for the last three weeks.  It was prompted by Georgia starting to blow coat with a big cluster of shows coming up.  So, for the last 3 Sundays she's been brushed, blown out, bathed and then blown out again.  Oh, and had her nails done too.  And, as long as I had the grooming table out, everyone else got some attention as well.  Today, Sam & Ginny got baths too.

Even though I end up inhaling and ingesting a lot of dog hair when everyone gets groomed like this, I actually enjoy grooming the dogs.  It can be incredibly relaxing to have a dog up on the table.  I get very focused and quiet and, fortunately, most of the dogs can relax on the table too.  The only one I worry about is Sam because, as he's gotten older, he's not always sure where his rear end is.  He has a tendency to let that back end drop off the table so I have to keep an eye on him and adjust his positioning a lot.  I'm thinking about buying a table that has a larger top and is slightly lower to make grooming him a little easier.  Of course, that will have to wait until I'm working again but, window-shopping for dog gear is always fun :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Oh the Agony...

Job hunting is brutal - I probably don't need to tell most of you that.  It's almost a flashback to those painful days in elementary school PE when the games required picking teams.  You wait anxiously to see if you will be 'picked.'

In today's job market it's especially painful because virtually everything is done electronically so you really have no idea if the "application" you filled out is actually being viewed by a human or merely checked by some computer program for the appropriate key words.  One of the job sites even has this wonderful/horrible tool that allows you to see how many candidates have applied for that job through their site and gives you some pretty amazing demographics regarding education, years of experience, required salary, etc.  It's positively frightening.

Last week I ended up having 3 phone interviews for 2 possible jobs.  One of them we are in the midst of trying to schedule a 4th phone interview.  The other I got a very polite email today indicating they are looking at other candidates but, thanks for my interest and oh, here's a special discount code to use the next time you shop our website.

The on line applications can be brutal too.  Most companies give you the option of down loading your resume but then they also ask you to fill out a work history section.  Ugh!  I hate repetitive work.  One of the jobs I am in the running for does a couple of different on line tests.  One is the Predictive Index test.  This is where you are given a list of 75 words and then asked to identify those that you think others would use to describe you.  Then you are give a second list of the same 75 words and asked to indicate the ones you believe best describe you!  The second test was 125 mixed questions encompassing reading comprehension, math, and logic/ethics.  Each question is timed but there is no time limit.  What does that mean?  Do they look at how long it took me to complete the number sequence questions vs. the word definitions and decide if I can do math or not?  The logic/ethics questions were all doubled up too; first, what is the "best" answer, second, what is the "worst" answer.

If you manage to snare an interview, be prepared for lots of different interview styles.  Myself, I tend to be a conversational interviewer.  I have a good idea of what I want to know about you and I try to have a conversation that gives me that information.  In my opinion, those are the most natural and comfortable interviews for everyone involved but they do require some skill.  Then there are the predictive interviewers; "Give me an example of a time when....."  Please, I BEG of the human resources professionals out there, DO NOT let your hiring managers use this style.  Phone interviews are hard enough as it is but an hour of "Give me an example of a time when" questions will put even the most patient and desperate job seeker over the edge.

When it seems like you might be close to the coveted 'face to face' interview, you start sweating the wardrobe question.  The vast majority of companies today have embraced a business casual wardrobe.  My last 3 employers followed that rule and, consequently, I have very few dressy business clothes.  So now you find yourself spending money to buy clothes for an interview.  Clothes that are dressy enough for an interview but not so dressy you 1) look totally out of place when you arrive at the office and 2) might have a chance of wearing again.  Oh, and what if you are flying in for the interview and someone wants to take you to dinner the night before or breakfast the morning after?  Then you need 2 outfits to wear.  The old saw about dressing for the position above the one you are interviewing for apparently still holds true too.  I am now the proud owner of a black suit (skirt & jacket), a blouse to go underneath the suit, a pair of tan trousers and a multi-colored more casual style jacket.  Fortunately, all of them can easily be worn someplace other than a job interview.  I think I would have had a coronary if that weren't the case.

As much as I am enjoying my 'summer vacation' this year, I am also looking forward to going back to work.  I'm not sure how much longer I can stand the stress of job hunting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Awards, Interviews and An Observation

First, a big thanks to my friend Karen of many blogs including Shaggy Dog StoriesDog Show Newbie and Blog Dog to name a few.  She nominated my little ol' blog for a Versatile Blogger Award.  I would happily put the award/badge in this post but I am a total blogging idiot and can't seem to figure out how to make that happen :(  So I'll leave it at a flattered, thanks!  You and the Beardies are some of my favorite folks.  I know there are some rules associated with receiving the award but I pride myself on being a rule-breaker so I'm going to ignore those :)

Good news on the the job-hunting front.  I have two phone interviews this week.  One is this afternoon w/the hiring manager for the position I applied for.  If I do well, it might result in an invitation to visit the company offices.  The second is a screening/first interview with an HR person to see if I can put together an intelligent sentence or if someone else wrote my resume :)  The two positions are similar -  planning managers - but the two companies are very different.  One is primarily brick & mortar and the other is exclusively web. One is in the midwest and the other is in the mountain west.  Right now I'm feeling like one is a better fit for my skill set but the other might be a better fit for my personality.  We'll just have to see.

And now for the observation.  In dogs we talk a lot about operant conditioning - where a dog offers a behavior and it is reinforced with a reward.  There is also classical conditioning - where something occurs and that causes the dog to react in a particular way.  The most famous example of classical conditioning is Pavlov's dogs - I really hope I don't need to explain what that is.  Anyway, we've had some classical conditioning going on here that I hadn't noticed until yesterday and it's pretty damned funny.

I've mentioned before that Sam now wears a wacker packer, weenie wrap, belly band - whatever you want to call it - most of the time.  He's not having problems with incontinence, he just seems to have forgotten that marking in the house is NOT allowed and with new carpet in the living room, I'm not taking any chances.  Sam's man-thong is secured with Velcro, which makes a distinctive ripping noise when it is pulled apart.  Again, I really hope I don't need to explain this....

Yesterday, UHM was getting ready to go outside to do some yard work.  She was putting on her work gloves, which have Velcro fasteners at the wrists.  As she opened the fasteners, Moira went crazy.  She ran to the back door, barked and carried on like her world was ending.  Moira going crazy and barking is nothing new but I was puzzled why she acted like that when no one had made a move toward the back door.  And then the light bulb came on over my head.... The sound of Velcro.  Since Sam doesn't wear his weenie wrap outside, the sound of Velcro being ripped apart precedes every trip the dogs make outside.  When UHM put on her gloves, Moira assumed everyone was going out.

That story is really only sorta funny but it does serve to illustrate that we train our dogs every day in lots of little unintended ways.  Think about that the next time you can't figure out why your dog is doing something......

Monday, July 18, 2011

Official Birthday Portrait

British Royalty get official birthday portraits so why shouldn't the Queen of The Horde has an official portrait as well?  Today is Ginny's (Cardiridge Red Ginger 'Spice') 12th birthday.  To celebrate, UHM and I took her up to the community pond in our subdivision to take some pictures.  Then we brought her home to have soft serve ice cream with the rest of the family.  Gin is aging really well.  She's just starting to show signs of stiffness in her joints and it seems she's probably lost some hearing but, like many red heads, she's aging well.  Hard to believe this girl didn't finish her championship but she made it clear fairly early on that she didn't really want to be a show dog.

Pretty darn good stack for a girl who never got a single point!

My Mary Poppins dog - Practically Perfect in Every Way

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Great Green Bean Bandit

This is the first year UHM and I have had a vegetable garden and we've been thrilled with it so far.  We've harvested beets, lettuce and green beans - lots and lots of green beans.  We almost can't keep up with the green beans.

The other day I got a phone call from a friend whose husband is an avid gardener - 'Come up and pick some beans!'  Well, I didn't want to be rude so yesterday afternoon we headed out to their place.  They live in the Blue Ridge foothills on land that has been in the family for probably a hundred years and have a HUGE garden.  I'll give you a sense of the scale - 100 tomato plants.  It's all grown strictly for pleasure.  They eat what they want from it, can a good deal of it and give the rest away.  We came home with at least 50 lbs of assorted vegetables - including 4 plastic shopping bags of green beans.  Guess how we spent today?

You may remember the green bean extravaganza from last year.  We had another cooler full of beans again this time and my Green Bean Bandit made another appearance.
So far this evening we have canned 7 pints of Dilly Beans (pickled green beans) and another 7 pints of plain green beans.  When I finish this post, I'll be going back to the kitchen to work on blanching and freezing the rest.
Tomorrow I'll start on the 20+ lbs of tomatoes - both red and green - that need processing (while UHM picks more green beans from our garden).  I might be done with everything by Sunday......UHM doesn't think so.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shaving the Cat

One word - Don't.

I should probably add some detail here, huh?  Grace, my cat, is a 14 yr old DLH (Domestic Long Hair).  I've always been lucky that she hasn't had issues with matting but lately, my luck has run out.  I know it's getting harder for her to keep herself clean and the upshot is she is getting a lot of mats.  She doesn't like to be combed or brushed out so the only option is to cut the mats out.  That's not a big deal if it's a mat here or there but in the last couple weeks it's become more of an issue than that.

I already spoke w/Dr. Hillary about sedating Grace and shaving her but, hey, it was a long holiday weekend and I am a DIY kinda gal.  I have an electric clipper so why shouldn't I attempt this on my own?  Number one reason?  The electric clipper I have is designed to shave out paw pads on dogs, not shave down an entire cat.

Grace now has a big bald spot on one side.  This morning I went after some more mats with my thinning shears.  So, basically, Grace looks like a drunken groomer got a hold of only one side of  her.  Thank goodness it's the side she usually sleeps on!

When Dr. Hillary gets the clinic open, I'll stuff Grace into a carrier and run her down there to have everything evened up.  In the meantime, someone should probably take my scissors away.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Old Man Dreams

It's no secret or surprise that Sam is aging.  As part of that process he's sleeping more and deeper than he ever has and sometimes he chooses to sleep in out of the way places.  Sometimes we even lose track of where he is because he sleeps so soundly he doesn't move when we move dogs around.

That happened on Saturday evening when UHM forgot Sam was sleeping in the hallway and let the Baby Dogs (Bogey & Georgia) in the house.  Sam and Bogey don't get along and aren't allowed to interact.  Up until recently, Sam hasn't been overly fond of Georgia either.  He's not a big fan of the kissy, kissy, licky, licky thing puppies do with older dogs.  He has some very strong ideas on personal space.  That seems to be changing though as Georgia matures and becomes a GIRL and not a puppy.  So when the Baby Dogs came in the other night and Georgia got to Sam before I could  I found Sam flirting with her but with a rather perplexed look on his face.  I can only assume she woke him out of a sound sleep and Sam was too befuddled to realize what was going on.  I'd like to think he saw her something like this.....

Right Click to Cue Music in a New Tab

BTW, UHM was able to grab Bogey's collar before he ran up on Sam and the dream turned into something else.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Of Awesome Vets

I just have to brag on our vet a bit.  Her name is Dr. Hillary Cook and, in our opinion, she is the best vet ever.

I started taking the dogs to see Dr. Hillary when I lived in Orange.  Initially, she just saw Sam for acupuncture treatments but it wasn't long before she started seeing all the dogs, and Grace, for general care.  When Bogey joined the family, he started going to Dr. Hillary too.  Last fall Dr. Hillary left the clinic in Orange to strike out on her own and open an integrative clinic in Crozet.  It's been a long haul getting the clinic open but, she's finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

In the meantime, she's been making house calls.  Do you know how cool that is?  With the exception of Sam's surgery this spring, she's come to the house for nearly a year now to take care of the dogs.  She was here yesterday, along with her new vet tech, Tara, for some annual check ups.  Four of the five dogs needed testing for heart worm and the girls all needed vaccinations; rabies only for Ginny & Ra, but the works for Georgia since she's show dog and exposed to lots of nasties.  We also sedated Ra so we could get her toenails clipped and Dremeled.  I know that seems extreme but, it's the only way to do her nails that doesn't cause undue stress and injury for everyone involved.

Dr. Hillary's new clinic, Crozet Animal Wellness Center, should be opening by the end of July.  If you are in Central Virginia and looking for a wonderful, progressive and integrative vet give Dr. H a call.

Dr. H with Bogey during his first vet visit.