Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

How’s my Ethics teaching going?

Saturday, 4 August, 2018

I’ve been teaching Primary Ethics for 5 school terms now (a term is a quarter year) since I began in April last year. In 2017 I taught the Year 4 class. I’d hoped to move to Year 5 in 2018 so that I could have many of the same children, but due to a wave of teacher retirements I was assigned Year 6 at the beginning of this year.

Year 6 is the oldest kids at the primary school, so the most mature, around 11 years old. As one would expect, they generally have better concentration skills and are more interested in discussing the sorts of topics that we teach in the classes. So it’s been pretty good for the past two terms.

Topics we’ve discussed so far this year are:

  • What makes a fair society? What makes an unfair society?
  • What are human rights? Where do they come from? Should animals have rights too?
  • Fatalism: Is the future predestined, no matter what we choose to do?
  • Does it matter what other people believe? Should we respect other people’s beliefs, even if we don’t agree with them, or if they are harmful?
  • Determinism: Do we have free will, or are our choices determined by our circumstances? And if our choices are determined, are we responsible for our actions?

Some of it is pretty heavy stuff for kids this age, but the curriculum is designed to introduce the topics in ways they can understand, and they’ve been enjoying it.

Then yesterday I got an email from one of the other Ethics teachers (the Year 2 teacher), who has a son in Year 4, and who took my class for me a few weeks ago when I was holidaying in Tanzania:

David I keep meaning to tell you that my son (Year 4) when I told him I was taking your Year 6 class said “Mr Morgan’s class? Everyone wants him he’s the best Ethics teacher”.

Needless to say: wow, cool! Clearly the Year 6 kids have been telling everyone how much they enjoy their classes with me. So I’m pretty chuffed!

First day in the park

Friday, 3 August, 2018

Today is a big day for Scully! She had her last puppy vaccination last week, and today is the official first day that she is safely allowed to go anywhere, including places where other dogs go.

So to celebrate I walked her down to Berry Island, which has a grassy park by the harbour where dogs are allowed off-leash. Here she is, playing on the grass for the first time!

Scully's first day in the park

Toilet training has been progressing pretty well recently. We had six days in a row with no toilet accidents in the house, and we were going for seven days in a row, but unfortunately she had one little peeing accident on the carpet yesterday, so we’ve had to reset the counter. We’ve obtained a dog bell which hangs near the front door, and we’ve been training her to ring it if she needs to go outside for toileting. Two days ago she rang it of her own accord for the first time, and yesterday she did it twice – each time we followed up by taking her straight outside and she peed on the grass each time. So that seems to be going pretty well (apart from yesterday’s accident).

She’s sleeping well through the night now. We put her in her crate in the bedroom with us when we go to sleep, and she settles in pretty quickly and sleeps soundly. I’m getting up around 03:30 each morning to take her down for a toilet, as she’s not old enough to be able to hold it in all night yet, but we’re slowly extending the time. She’s very sleep and groggy at 03:30, but she goes on the grass once outside, and then I pop her back in the crate to continue sleeping until we get up in the morning.

The main issue we have left to deal with is that she hates being left alone. We’ve been leaving her in the house for an hour or two while we overlap our work schedules, but a video we took during this time shows that she’s basically crying and howling the whole time until she exhausts herself more than an hour later. Our dog trainer came over on Wednesday to help us out, and she advised that we need to stop leaving her on her own, until we can train her to cope with it without getting upset. Doing this means getting her used to being left alone for very brief periods, just a few seconds, and then very slowly increasing it. This training could take weeks or months, but we have to do it. So we’re exploring possibilities of adjusting working hours and recruiting friends, relatives, neighbours to sit her if necessary when we absolutely have to go out without her.

The puppy + kitten experiment is over

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

Here’s a photo of our kitten Mulder and puppy Scully.

Mulder and Scully

Unfortunately, looks are deceiving. We thought they were getting along, just with the amusing foible of constantly trying to eat each others’ food. But Mulder seemed to constantly be having trouble with her digestive system, fighting diarrhoea all the time, and also occasionally urinating outside her litter boxes. We thought she was fussy about dirty kitty litter, so cleaned it out multiple times a day. She ate a lot, but seemed rather skinny.

Then my wife and I went on our vacation to Tanzania for two weeks. This trip had been booked ages ago, well before we even considered getting a kitten and a puppy. So we had to find temporary homes for them while we were away. One friend of ours also had a puppy and was willing to take Scully, but not Mulder. So I found another friend who was happy to look after a kitten, and we let Mulder stay with his family. I warned him that Mulder was having trouble with diarrhoea and going outside her litter box.

When we got back from our two week vacation, we picked up Scully and Mulder. As soon as I saw Mulder I noticed she’d put on weight. She was no longer skinny. I asked if she’d had any toilet troubles. My friend said she had a bit of diarrhoea in the first day or two, but it cleared up quickly. And she had no problems urinating outside her box.

We thought Mulder and Scully would be happy to see each other again. But they started fighting. Not play wrestling, but full on claws and hissing. When Mulder was sitting or resting, Scully would chase her. When Scully was resting, Mulder would leap and attack. We were forever separating them, or trying to keep them apart. This was causing us a lot of stress.

Mulder’s diarrhoea returned, and wouldn’t go away. She started urinating around the house again. She lost weight and started to appear skinny again.

A few days ago we made the hard decision that for the sake of her health, Mulder had to find a new home. I would have been happier if Scully had been the one to find a new home, but for my wife keeping Scully was absolutely non-negotiable. So poor Mulder had to go.

We offered her to my friend who’d looked after her while we were on vacation. I hoped he would say yes, so that we’d know the new owner and could visit Mulder sometimes. But although he liked her, he couldn’t take her permanently. I tried several other friends, but none could accept her.

Today I returned Mulder to the Pet Rescue worker who we originally got her from, three months ago. She gave me a whole pack of tissues, I was crying so hard in this virtual stranger’s house.

Mulder: I’m sorry we couldn’t give you the comfortable home you deserve. I hope you find one and live a long and happy life.

Mulder

Scully’s pedigree

Saturday, 16 June, 2018

The breeder we got our puppy Scully from has sent us her pedigree papers. We get to see details of her ancestors for three full generations. Turns out our little puppy has Scandinavian ancestry!

Her father’s registered name is Haggai Nordic King, who lives in Queensland, Australia. His father is Erik the Viking at Haggai, from Norway, and Erik’s parents are Super Sonik’s Cool Attitude from Sweden and Chocolate Dreams from Norway.

Nordic King’s mother is Betty Noire, and her parents are Franelle Black Magic and Skylark. All from Australia.

Scully’s mother is Madeleine Lemaire. Her father is Bob Marley, and his parents are Shibo Shiraz and Billie Holiday. Madeleine’s mother is Cheyenne Autumn, and her parents are Oscar Brun and Miss Juniper, again all from Australia.

These are all the registered pedigree names, excluding the breeder names, which are often prepended. Our Scully’s registered name is actually Sweetooth Scully, as the breeder name is Sweetooth.

In other news, Scully is making progress on all of overcoming her separation anxiety at night time, toilet training, and general obedience training, though we still have a way to go with all of them. We haven’t yet had a day without a toilet accident in the house, but we’ve managed several with just one accident, which is fairly pleasing. She’s pretty good at sitting on command, except when she’s distracted by other interesting things to do. She’s definitely learning better behaviour. All in all, decent progress for just on two weeks of ownership.

Oh, and she had a vet appointment last night, together with out kitten Mulder, just for general check up and worming and flea treatment. It was great sitting in the waiting room with a bunch of other people, and the vet came out and called, “Mulder and Scully!” Several people giggled.

First major puppy milestone

Monday, 11 June, 2018

A major first last night. We went through the entire night without Scully peeing in her pen.

It did involve me getting out of bed four times to take her out into the winter rain to go on the wet grass, but she slowly seems to be getting the point of the activity.

Unfortunately this was followed by an accident in the house after wake-up time, so we’re still working on our first 24 hour period without toilet accidents.

Puppy log: Sunday 10 June 2018

Monday, 11 June, 2018

Well this is annoying. Lots of people in our apartment complex know we’ve recently got a new puppy.

Today there was an unsigned passive-aggressive note stuck in all the lifts and near the garbage room, complaining about people leaving dog droppings around.

My first reaction was: “Wait. Did we fail to clean up after one of the times when little Scully missed the puppy pad we put down??” Then I thought “No, we definitely cleaned up every time. Even at 3am last night when I went down with her and we stood in the cold rain for five minutes, and she went, and I suddenly realised the dog dropping bag dispenser on the leash was empty – I picked up the droppings in my bare hand and took them inside to dispose of.”

Then I saw near the garbage room in the garage was a pile of droppings. BIG droppings, from a much larger dog. Okay, definitely not a slip of the mind with our puppy.

Then I got angry, because everyone knows we just got a new dog, and many people have seen us doing toilet training in the garage area. And now this gutless passive-aggressive note writer has left notes everywhere saying someone’s leaving droppings lying around.

Well. I did two things.

1. Cleaned up the mess. I used the dog enzyme remover we’ve been using to make sure the floor was really clean.
2. Emailed the Owners Corporation secretary to tell him that (a) it definitely wasn’t us, (b) I cleaned up the mess anyway, and (c) I was upset that someone left an unsigned note rather than do the right thing and clean up the mess and then report it to the Owners Corporation.

I was strongly tempted to do:
3. Leave a reply note saying essentially 1 and 2 above. Signed with my name and apartment number. And that leaving unsigned notes rather than cleaning up messes and reporting them through proper channels was un-neighbourly.

In the end I restrained myself and didn’t do 3. But now no doubt there are a bunch of our neighbours thinking “They got a puppy just the other day”, “Now someone’s leaving droppings around”, and joining the dots.

Sigh.

Puppy log: Friday 9 June 2018

Monday, 11 June, 2018

I just started OneNote pages to record information about our new pets, Mulder the kitten and Scully the puppy. Birth dates, adoption dates, contact details for where we got them from, microchip numbers, dates of vaccinations, worming, vet visits, etc.

I was going to name the section they are filed under simply “Pets”. But my wife had a much better idea.

So now I have a OneNote section labelled “X-Files”.

Puppy log: Monday 4 June 2018

Monday, 11 June, 2018

So… if you have a new puppy, how do you do anything?

Do I just have to take the next 6 weeks off work and say “screw it” to all my deadlines? By which I mean not just my paid job, but also putting all my webcomics on hiatus, because I ain’t getting any work done on them, even having had the last 3 weekdays off and being at home full time.

Heck, I’m barely managing to eat, drink, and shower.

Puppy log: Sunday 3 June 2018

Monday, 11 June, 2018

The morning after night 2 with new puppy Scully.

First of all: I’ve never raised a puppy before. I had no idea they howl all night until they get used to not being with their mother. I’ve learnt the hard way. Literally all night. 7+ hours non-stop until we finally called a stop to it by emerging from the bedroom.

Secondly: I’ve absolutely smashed my all-time record for no sleep. I haven’t had any sleep at all for two full nights. So 49, going on 50 hours now.

But let me reassure you, there is no way on Earth I am going to get behind a steering wheel until I manage to get some sleep.

Puppy log

Monday, 11 June, 2018

I’ve recently acquired a toy poodle puppy, who we’ve called Scully, to accompany the kitten Mulder who we adopted from PetRescue about a month ago. I’m the cat person in the house, and my wife is the dog person, so we decided one of each would be sensible.

However, neither of us had experience raising a puppy, and we had no idea how much work, how much constant supervision, and how exhausting it would be to get her through the first few weeks of house training and feeling confident and safe without her mother. We’re just over a week into this process and definite progress has been made, but there’s still a big way to go yet.

The result of this need for uninterrupted vigilance is that my wife and I are both taking a lot of time off work, and while we’re at home we have no time to do much else other than monitor Scully, unless we’re both home and one is looking after her. The secondary result is no new Game of Thrones episodes until things settle down to let us squeeze in an hour of TV watching again.

In the meantime, I thought I’d start blogging our experiences raising Scully. I’ve posted a few short notes to my Google+ and Facebook accounts, but realised it might be better to put them here for posterity more under my own control, and link across. To start with I’ll copy some of those posts here… (see next few posts)