More Great Dane puppy pictures

Not going to say much. It is obvious how adorable they are. They began to open their eyes at 10 days for Boba Fett and 11 for Han Solo. And last night at day 13 they walked for the first time. This typically involved walking about 4 step then plopping their rear down. Han Solo could walk a little further since he doesn’t have quite the girth to carry around. They still are making cute puppy grunting noises and doing a lot of sleeping and eating.

Now onto the pictures, sorry about the quality. On-board flash is not so awesome, and they wiggle around too much to not use a flash:

Boba N Han-1Boba N Han-1-2 Boba N Han-1-3 Boba N Han-1-4 Boba N Han-1-5 Boba N Han-1-6 Boba N Han-1-7

Puppies!!!

The morning of October 21st, Heidi was acting a little lethargic. We figured puppies must be coming early. They did not come that day. So I figured she is due Thursday, so I better get a webcam setup as I had a seminar I couldn’t miss. So I downloaded icam. It is an app for smartphones that allows you to check in on your webcam and lets you stream it or have it motion activated and allows up to four cameras to run at the same time. So we set up 1 camera looking over Heidi and I went to my seminar. Crushing Circuit Operation and Maintenance. Yeah, I know you are jealous…

Anyway, shortly after 8:00 on October 22nd, Heidi had already bailed out of her whelping box. Camera showed nothing. But no sound was being picked up so I figured she just wanted a more comfortable spot to rest for the day. When I made the whelping box, I assumed 24″ tall sides would be enough to discourage her from hopping over the sides while about ready to pop. I was incorrect. Well, about 10:45 I started hearing something on the camera. Still no sign of Heidi. I sent a text to Cara to let her know Hedi was AWOL and that I was hearing noises. So she left work and came home to find 2 little puppies being washed off by Heidi on the loveseat. Gross! Oh well, luckily they are fake leather and clean easily.

4 hours old.

4 hours old.

This is Han Solo. He is skinnier than the other puppy, and such a looker. He will definitely be a lady killer. That brindle doesn’t show up well in photos as it is sort of dark inside and they move too much for slow shutter speed so I had to play with flash compensation to even get it this good. But in person, the brindle is more grey than it looks in pictures. And seems to get more grey toward his rear.

Puppy #2 at 4 hours old

Puppy #2 at 4 hours old

And here is Boba Fett. He is more adventurous, always heading out on his own, but then he gets all whiney and starts crying for mommy. He’s already more of an eater than Han Solo. And his coloring is crazy cool. Big Grey patches. So cute.

So after the 4 hours was up, Cara called the vet to see what they thought/recommended. They said it is unheard of for a Great Dane to have just 2 puppies. But they were closing soon so they couldn’t look at her and gave us the number for the 24 hour vet. Well, Heidi was acting fine, other than not wanting to eat or drink, but she seemed happy to have babies to take care of and would get up and go outside fine, provided we stole her babies. So we figured we would wait until morning to see if anymore came out and decide what to do with her.

Sleeping on mommy's paw

Sleeping on mommy’s paw

In the morning, Heidi was acting even better, so we just setup the webcam so I could monitor her from afar. Silly girl was supposed to wait until this 3 day seminar was over. Well, everything on camera was fine all day. When Cara came home she took Heidi and the puppies to the vet to get checked on and dew claws removed. Everything checked out. No more puppies. So yes, we have a Great Dane that had just 2 puppies. We were totally expecting 6-8, but no. And yes, I know we could have had an x-ray, but the cost and risk didn’t seem worth it. She was going to have what she had and an x-ray wasn’t going to change that.

Only having 2 puppies definitely throws out the plan for new flooring for the house. And we will barely break-even. So don’t care. They are adorable and Heidi is an amazing mom. It’s crazy how much that mothering instinct is programmed into animals. As soon as they were born, she was cleaning them off, directing them toward food, keeping them warm, and protecting them from us. Such a good mommy.

Mommy and babies sleeping

Mommy and babies sleeping

In the pictures from today, the puppies have little blood spots where their dewclaws were. And here are some more gratuitous puppy shots. Because PUPPIES!!!!

Han Solo laying on top of Boba Fett

Han Solo laying on top of Boba Fett

Han and Boba cheek to cheek

Han and Boba cheek to cheek

Using mommy's paw for a pillow again. Such tiny puppies.

Using mommy’s paw for a pillow again. Such tiny puppies.

Mommy checking on her babies

Mommy checking on her babies

Boba Fett sleeping like his daddy

Boba Fett sleeping like his daddy

Trying to push mommy away. She's a bit bigger though.

Trying to push mommy away. She’s a bit bigger though.

Heidi and Bob Fett cheek to cheek

Heidi and Bob Fett cheek to cheek

And of course, it goes without saying, click pics for bigger versions. I can’t wait to get outside pics with them. This indoor lighting is just horrible.

Building a Whelping box for our Great Dane

As I mentioned before, our little Heidi is having babies soon. Right now we are about 8 days from her giving birth. So a whelping box was required to keep Heidi and her babies happy and safe. And keep Odie out as much as possible. I sat down and spent 20 minutes or so throwing ideas down on Solidworks. Once I had the winner, I created a quick weldment so I could have a cut-sheet. I could have made it an assembly and put the hinges on and screws in and that sort of thing. But after considering it for about half a second I decided that was overkill. So, if you like my idea, feel free to rip it off. The more the merrier.

Whelping box plans

Whelping box plans, click for full size.

Now this box is for a Great Dane. So it needed to be slightly larger than a usual whelping box. However, when checking out youtube and doing research, I decided all of them I found were either made too small out of convenience and made at 4′ x 4′, or they were way too big to keep that puppy den feeling for the pups. So I decided to make this one 4′ x 5′. And yes, I think that extra foot of length is both significant and necessary. Also, Most of the whelping boxes I found were screwed together permanently. Sure, you can unscrew them, but re-screwing wood screws into the same hole will become ineffective in short order. So I made this one come apart for storage and shipping if we have to move the puppies and mommy elsewhere. I think it turned out well. I used 3/8″ bolts which are way bigger than necessary, but make it so both metric and standard tools can be easily used. Another complaint I had of others I saw is that some weighed over 100 lbs. In fact one I saw installed a pulley system crane in their ceiling just to lift it up to clean it. No thanks…

We went down to Lowes and bought about $70 worth of wood and screws and hinges and such. I happened to already have some of the hinges and locks from a previous planned project I never made back in 2006. Luckily the girlfriend came across those in the garage just at the right time. Lowes will cut sheets 3 times for free. Which was perfect. I had them cut both sheets into (4) 2′ widths while we were there. Now my plans call for 1/2″ plywood sheet. Don’t do it. It’s a trick. I ended up doing 3/8″ because it was $15 a sheet rather than $50. And I needed 2 sheets. $50 a sheet would have destroyed my budget. Also, for 2×4′s I spent the extra $1 per length to get better quality ones. I highly suggest doing this. It doesn’t add much cost, but the boards are a lot more straight. As soon as I got home I started cutting the wood. Turns out I ended up buying an extra 2×4 I didn’t need. Oh well, I was in a hurry and not thinking math. Should have done my weldment a bit different and let Solidworks calculate that for me.

Pile of wood once cut

Pile of wood once cut

I let the wood sit overnight and acclimate. No, just kidding. I was tired of wood and wanted to wait. We will say it was acclimation though rather than laziness. By the way, I am terrible at woodworking. I can weld alright, machine steel or aluminum ok. But wood can suck it. It hates me ad I very much dislike it in return. So lengths were not super precise. And I ended up screwing a piece upside-down and another one backwards. But anyway, step one was to start screwing. I took what would be the back wall and used a c-clamp (get those quick clamp things, you will thank me) to hold the 2×4 onto the end of the sheet close to flush at the bottom. I screwed in some 2.5″ long screws, and did the same to the 2×4 on the opposite end of the sheet. At this point I put that assembly on the floor to add the pig rail. I was feeling rather proud of myself as the pig rail fit tight, but not too tight. Did I actually cut and screw more than one piece of wood properly??? I applied 2 screws to each end through the 2×4′s.

The back side

The back side

Well, that is the piece I screwed backwards. The ugly side of the sheet was to the outside. Oh well, still feeling it was a success. Flipped it over and put screws down the sheet to hold it to the pig rail. Next I took the other full length 2′ x 4′ sheet and drew the lines for the door on it. I drilled the bottom corners with a 3/8″ hole so I could have a start/stop point for the jigsaw. Then I proceeded to cut the least straight line you have ever seen a jigsaw make. Oh well, a little sanding will keep clearances large enough for door functionality…

Front side prior to cutting the door.

Front side prior to cutting the door.

Next step is for the 4 side pieces. They all ended up being a variant of this:

a couple variants make all 4

a couple variants make all 4

Once I made the first one I figured it was a good idea to number it and mark the drawing accordingly to keep track of which pieces I had made so I don’t end up having a pig rail across the top. BTW, I put the pig rail 5″ up from the bottom to the bottom of the pig rail. Smaller dogs will want this lower, bigger dogs (haha funny) may want it even higher.

I laid it out to make sure I had all sides correct and to make sure I thought the size was good.

Check construction

Check construction

I whipped out the c-clamp again, and the drill, and a couple hours after starting the project, I had this:

Bolted together for first time

Bolted together for first time

I then sanded it a bit and took it apart and stored it until tonight. After moving Heidi’s kennel into the garage we brought in her new whelping box for her to check out for the first time. The ramp door it turns out freaks her out a bit so she hops over it. But at least it’s easier than hopping over the 2′ sides :)

Heidi chilling in her new whelping box

Heidi chilling in her new whelping box

I think she likes it. And I think the size is just right.

I think she likes it. And I think the size is just right.

New shots of our expecting girl

Our sweet little Great Dane puppies will be here in two weeks and a day or so. And while Heidi’s milk bags are growing, as is her appetite, she is still looking great.

Still playful

Still playful

For some reason, this afternoon she was in a mood to roll around in the grass. She’s so sweet. Gave me a good shot of those crazy milk bags though :)

 

Rolling around in the grass

Rolling around in the grass

And here is just a shot of her smiling at me. She rarely shows off her tongue. I guess it is really a normal size. I always assumed it was tiny since she never uses it, unlike Odie.

Heidi smiling up at me

Heidi smiling up at me

 

 

WGU, and my experience so far.

I am on the last of 4 assignments that make up one of the business management classes at WGU. And rather than finishing that up, I decided to post to my blog about WGU and my experiences thus far. WGU stands for “Western Governors University” for those that don’t know. If I remember correctly, they are accredited by four different organizations, one of which is that same one that gives the University of Utah and BYU their accreditation.

In the Beginning:

You start of course by registering for school, like any other school. You pay (your old school board, not WGU) to have old school transcripts sent for verification of educational status. Someone at WGU assigns credits from your degree plan to those credits from your previous education. For reference, I had AP credit in physics from high school, and a few classes from the 3 terms I attended at the University of Utah. My reasons for not finishing the UofU are wide and varied and not worth going into, although I may touch on a couple throughout this post. The process of transferring credits took a bit longer than planned so I started at WGU a month later than I had hoped. Luckily, the way WGU is set up, they have new students start every month rather than needing to wait for a new term or semester to begin.  Once this is over, you take a few placement tests. I forget how long you have to take them but it is a ridiculous amount of time. I think I finished all tests in less time than they give your for just one. The result of these tests, along with your previous educational credits helps them determine which basics classes you need for things like math and English. Once credits are transferred and financial aid is acquired, you are assigned a mentor. This is like a guidance counselor. They recommend classes for you in a certain order and they are your cheerleader that routes for you to succeed during your attendance of the school. They set up a schedule to call you on a weekly or bi-weekly or whenever they feel like it schedule. Once they set you up in the system and assign your first semester’s classes, you must log on, and accept those classes. My test results and previous education gave me credit for 14 credit units (WGU calls them units, not hours) and got me out of 5 classes. This was 3 math classes, a science class, and an art class.

Once school starts:

The first few classes you have to take are simple classes that essentially get you used to online learning and how things are going to be for the next few years. They are very simple, and mainly require some reading and acceptance of your circumstance. It seems online education is difficult for many people as they are used to learning in groups. Personally, I always hated groups, not just because I am a bit of an introvert, but mainly due to the fact that I always felt like I did all the work and other people got to take some of the credit without actually learning anything. This actually hurt me a bit at the U, because as a general rule, I hate people. I don’t like to be around them, listen to them, smell them, or help them. Unless they first prove to me they deserve my attention. For classes, they have to assign you at least 12 credit units worth to maintain full-time student status.  You can ask for extra, or you can wait until you finish those 12 and they can stack more on if you have over a month left in your semester. There are two types of classes. The first type is called “performance assessment.” In these classes you have a list of tasks you must accomplish to pass. Essentially these are just big assignments. They are submitted, plagiarism checked, and graded by an outside website called taskstream. The other type of class is an “objective assessment” class. With these classes, you take a pre-test that is usually just over 50 questions long. And the results tell you what areas you suck the most at and you can choose to just read those sections or read everything then take the real test. The real test is proctored, so you must run a program that blocks other programs from running on your computer and you are constantly monitored over a webcam while taking the test. Or you can go to a testing center at a local school. I have only done the webcam proctored test. If you pass the test, you pass the class. You are given 2 or 3 chances to pass. I have no experience with that as I pass the first time, every time.

My current status:

Once I finish this last assignment for my current class I will have finished 92 credit units. This leaves me with 40 credit units to go. I am currently in semester 5, and I have 4 months left in this semester. So I will probably be able to add another 6 or so credit units (maybe more) over the 18 I already have.  I am most likely looking at 2 more semesters before graduating, but if I tried really hard I could probably do it in 1. But as I like to have a real life as well, I will probably take 2. Especially since my work helps pay for it. It looks like the majority of what I have left is accounting and statistics classes. I am so not looking forward to that. I like math. But I hate accountant math. And yes, there is a difference. They say you should be prepared to spend 2 hours a day doing school. I would say, you only need to plan on that if you are either try to complete school on an accelerated schedule or you are just plain dense. If I spend 2 hours a day on a class, I can usually have that class completed in anywhere from a week to 3 weeks. But that’s me. I work differently than most people. I’m not saying I am smarter, I just operate differently. But that’s another thing that makes this type of school work so well for me. To a certain extent, it is what I make it.

Who should go to WGU:

WGU seems to be great for parents that work as it is infinitely flexible when it comes to schedule. I can do class work at 1:00 a.m. on Christmas day, I can take a test at 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning, etc. I could see WGU being great for people with a lot of previous education that want to expand their degree portfolio as they will likely get a ton of credit for what they have already done. Basically WGU, and I assume every online school, is geared for people who just haven’t got the time to go to a physical school, but still want to learn. Many find it very difficult as there is little group mentality. But for me, everything being up to me is a benefit. It is my job to motivate me and my job to make sure I accomplish all tasks. Sure, I take a month off and waste that time here and there. But that just makes me push that much harder when it is crunch time. And with everything, except racing for some reason, I do better under extra pressure. So far, I have completed all classes I have signed up for. I have passed all tests the first time (not pre-tests, just the ones that count). I have learned something interesting in every class. Although, much of it is as aggravating as it is interesting.

Who should not go to WGU:

Anyone looking for a social life at school would be severely disappointed by life at an online university. Also, anyone looking for group support might be underwhelmed by life at WGU.

Things I wish I knew at the beginning:

  • Look at your pre-test results, and only study the sections you got under 60% on.
  • If you spend more than a month on a class, by the time test time comes around you will have forgotten a lot of it, so be quick.
  • Discuss your classes with friends or spouses. This will help you retain the information more than doing the exercises in the books.
  • For assignment based classes, read the assignment first then do the reading, that way you know what to look for. The course of study wants you to read everything then do the assignment. Reading everything is good, but knowing what to look for ahead of time makes it painless.
  • The assignments are almost always more simple than I make them out to be.
  • When an assignment says 3-7 pages, 2 pages can get the same grade as 7 or even 20. Do quality work, ignore the suggested length.
  • Use the suggested page formatting. It isn’t there to make your assignment longer and more impressive, it’s just there to make it easier to read for those doing the grading.

Things I like about going to WGU compared to UofU:

  • Prerequisites are based on knowledge rather than a desire to screw you out of more money unnecessarily so.
  • No need to help other people by contributing to a group, unless you choose to do so.
  • If I have a knowledge base, I take a test and get the credit rather than paying extra for those credit hours and even more for the test itself.
  • Your semester tuition has no upward limit on how many credit hours it covers. 12 cu or 30 cu, the price is the same.
  • No teacher’s aids. You have a question, you email or live chat with the course mentor. This can be 1 person or 3. But either way, it isn’t just some dweeb junior trying to get brownie points so the teacher can avoid showing up to class to write a book they will force future students to buy.
  • A small fee for the “library” gets me access to all books for the semester and costs about the same as 2 used books at the regular university.
  • Parking in my garage is much easier than paying $120 per year for a pass that allows me to park 3/4 mile from class.
  • My computer is open 24/7.
  • Many other time management related reasons not worth listing individually.