Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

12-31-08 Less One Ball & a Frisbee

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. Well, not really, but it has been quite a blizzard. I think it’s very pretty. Abby still plays in the back yard, wondering at my hesitation. It’s one of those snowy, windy days, temperature 15 degrees. If not dressed well, it can bring on a chill.

I decided to attempt a game of “fetch.” With the wind, I felt that some of the snow had blown away, so it wasn’t terribly deep. Perfect, Abby could still enjoy one of her favorites games. I tossed the ball, strong and far; ploomph-right into some deep snow and Abby couldn’t even find it. I attempted to assist, but it was gone. She was doing her pouncing routine, but the ball never showed its face. I guess it will be there in the spring when the snow melts.


Of course, Abby was still full of vim and vigor, so I thought what shall I do. ? . ? . a ball is obviously not doing the trick. I pulled out a frisbee. There are two dangers of a frisbee. One, if dogs get too enthusiastic about trying to catch it, they can twist and hurt themselves. Two, I am horrible at throwing frisbees. First attempt, I sailed the frisbee, nice and low. It traveled a lovely distance and was an ideal option for the snow conditions. Abby ran, made no crazy attempts to catch it, and it didn’t sink into the snow. Rather, it laid nicely on top. An excellent retrieve to an excellent throw. Second throw- it took a hard right, over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. My problem in throwing is that I don’t have control over which direction it will go. Poor little Abby. She was not about to give up on it. She saw the brush in which it landed and remained by the fence barking at it, hoping to retrieve it. In the spirit of exercise (and realizing that rescuing the frisbee would take some time) I got another frisbee.


We continued this game for some time. Whenever Abby was near the “lost items,” it appeared that she had not forgotten about them. She would look around for them before returning! 


I thought Abby was having fun, but in looking at this photo I’m not so sure!

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12-29-08 Photo Contest!

Hey everyone!

Abby has been entered in a photo contest and we need your help. The Star Tribune Newspaper has a “cutest canine” photo contest! The first place winner receives $1000!! If Abby wins the contest, all proceeds will go to help in publishing the book,  A Day With Abby Sunshine. 

1. Go to this Star Tribune web page.

You will see a photo of Abby at a school wearing her scarf!

2. Above the photo is a registration tab. Select it.

This will just register you as a voter in this Star Tribune Contest. They need your email address and you may choose a password. It is very minimal information and easy to register.

3. After you’ve registered, check your email, they will have sent you a note to confirm that you are using a valid email. Confirm it with them by hitting “reply.”

Doing this gets you registered.

4. Return to the page with Abby’s picture and choose Vote now!

5. Abby’s photos are on pages 2 and 3. You may vote for all three of them. Please do!!


6. Thank you.

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12-29-08 A Dog’s Eye View

Usually when Abby and I go for a walk, I plan the walk to be a route that will be a pleasing experience; one that perhaps loops through some trees and a path, or that uses streets with very little traffic. On this particular walk, I decided to incorporate my needs for the day with a walk, to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. I wanted to mail some letters and a mailbox is about a mile away from home. It traverses on some busy roads and under an interstate highway. Prior to this walk, these facts didn’t even cross my mind.

abby-under-bridge Here Abby and I are approaching the underpass. Though there isn’t tremendous traffic at the moment. It is very loud.

abby-at-traffic-light I think this photo captures Abby’s opinion of the walk, thus far. At least it captures my thoughts. So far the walk was loud, slow moving, and restricted. Of course, I’m not sure what she’s thinking.

abby-at-the-mailbox We made it. Now Abby looks at more sights and sounds. She is not relaxed and is very distracted.

abby-with-sign I was noticing some distress with Abby, so I got down on her eye level. What does the city look like to Abby Sunshine? She sees signs right at her eye level. She sees litter and smells lots of smells.

aby-with-sign2 What is going on here? Where are the parks? What is up with this walk? Where are the trails? Where are the birds? Where are the squirrels? What are these signs all about????

abby-with-tear I feel like all of her photos today have a sadness to them. Even here, the way the moisture landed under her eye, it looks like a tear. Her ears are still not perky as they are when she is playing.

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12-28-08 Abby Sunshine and her Tongue

What is up with a dog’s tongue? Did you hear the one about the dog with a long tongue on his first day of obedience school? He said “I’ve got this licked.” Does that sound like the beginning of a standup comedy routine? Perhaps a funny one, maybe not.



But let’s get real here. What is the deal with a dog’s long tongue? In comedy productions about a dog, jokes and general discussion, the dog’s tongue regularly gets mentioned. It is responded to with an “ewww” or “sick” as people get sort of grossed out with the whole doggy spit thing. 

Have you ever been licked by a dog? Abby loves to lick a nice sweaty leg- preferably after a long run or bike ride. EWWWW!!

Obviously, dogs don’t feel this way. For one thing their tongue is an integral part of their internal temperature gauge. When they pant, we all see their tongue hanging out. It is cooling off, which in turn cools them off. Very important.

We’ve heard about a healthy dog having a damp nose. Well, how do you suppose their nose remains wet? They lick it! That’s what they do. Your dog ought to have a wet nose, and if it isn’t, they might be under the weather.

As with us, a dog’s tongue is also crucial for their nourishment; eating. This moist organ assists dogs with their food intake, chewing and swallowing. It is also critical for hydration. Their tongue is used to lap water. This is something we can watch and listen to in amazement! Water getting slopped up into their mouths. To us, we may find it disgusting, to the dogs, it’s necessity. 

And finally, this long tongue creates a closer connection between dogs and Gene Simmons. What could be more cool than that?

Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer from KISS (FYI, Gene Simmons is a famous rock ‘n roll musician from the group KISS. The photo to the left shows the group, wearing their face paint. Another little claim to fame for him is that he has a very long tongue- he often poses for photos sticking his tongue out!)

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12-27-08 A Day without Abby is like a Day without Sunshine

I didn’t realize how much Abby affects our daily routine until I’ve spent these last two days without her. I am visiting my sister and family out of town. Where is the little buddy that greets me everytime I enter a room? Where is that fluffy tail that brushes against my leg as she walks by? No one else seems to jump at the chance to go for a walk! Where is my little buddy?? Then to put the “icer on the topper,” I went to Marley and Me in the theater. All I wanted to do after that flick was to hang out with Abby Sunshine, but she was not around. The movie depicted life with a dog pretty well. They showed Marley involved in all events of their life. There would be a scene, and of course, Marley was in it.

For example, let’s look at these photos. Which is more complete?

dsc06663 A or B abby-on-the-ice-rink2

dsc06679 A or B dsc06681

The scenes really change when a lively being becomes part of them. In fact, in advertising, the scenes that show a stark product with only the technical aspects tend not to sell as much because they don’t appeal to our emotions. Show a bike by itself, it looks kind of cool, but does not conjure up emotion. Now show that same bike with people riding on a country road, smiling and flexing some calf muscles to keep the pedals going–that’s appealing. We become a part of the scene. I think the same is true with these two pictures. Abby makes them closer to home and we can connect with the situation. I would go so far as to say she brings “sunshine” into the picture.

I called Todd, who is home with Abby. He mentioned that Abby ate the cat food. That little stinker. Apparently she was able to sneak past Todd, move secretly down the stairs and nab their food. I hope he could notice some “sunshine” in that scene.

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12-25-08 Book Recommendation

A Christmas Carol (Candlewick Edition)

by Charles Dickens, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

Though there are many versions of this tale, I recently purchased this one, a lovely hardcover with good illustrations.

I’m recommending this book strictly due to season and holiday. I don’t know of any dogs in it! If there is a dog in the story, it’s a very minimal role. When you think of England in this time of yesteryear, there must have been some mongrels roaming the streets.

A Christmas Carol (Candlewick Edition) by Charles Dickens: Book Cover



The celebrated P.J. Lynch captures the spirit of Dickens’s beloved tale in a richly illustrated unabridged edition.

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge opens on a Christmas Eve as cold as Scrooge’s own heart. That night, he receives three ghostly visitors: the terrifying spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Each takes him on a heart-stopping journey, yielding glimpses of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit, the horrifying spectres of Want and Ignorance, even Scrooge’s painfully hopeful younger self. Will Scrooge’s heart be opened? Can he reverse the miserable future he is forced to see? Now in an unabridged edition gloriously illustrated by the award-winning P.J. Lynch, this story’s message of love and goodwill, mercy and self-redemption resonates as keenly as ever.


A miser learns the true meaning of Christmas when three ghostly visitors review his past and foretell his future.

Children’s Literature

Here the Christmas story that we all love is presented in its original language with artwork that captures the period and its ghostly theme. The beautiful language is once again a joy to read. Marley’s Ghost warns: “Oh! . . . Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness.” Unusual words of the period such as, negusCold Boiled, or bedight, may be looked up or understood in the context. The watercolor and gauche illustrations with smoky spirits and pages tinted with wash draw us into the surreal spirit world. The snowy village with hovering ghosts on the book jacket and the greenish moire book cover with the door knocker of Marley’s head, immediately set the tone. This is a jewel of a book for Christmas giving and family enjoyment.


Charles Dickens is probably the greatest novelist England ever produced. His innate comic genius and shrewd depictions of Victorian life — along with his memorable characters — have made him beloved by readers the world over. In Dickens’ books live some of the most repugnant villains in literature, as well as some of the most likeable (and unlikely) heroes.

I recommend the Clive Donner (with George C. Scott as Scrooge) as my favorite movie version of this classic. I think they brought out the story almost exactly how I had envisioned it! Great acting, impressive settings and splendid music. . . .

A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott: DVD Cover


12-24-08 Book Recommendation

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

by Dr. Seuss

Cover Image

This book is one of my favorite seasonal delights. Dr. Seuss has such a way with words, cleverly rhyming his way to fun and excitement. His stories, including this one, usually end with a big thought, or a moral to the story. I chose to recommend this book today, based on his character, Max, the dog. This character, however, really comes to life in the animated version (1966) of the story, not the book. Although this is a book recommendation, in the case of this story, I think it’s cool how a wonderful tale went from a popular book to a super-popular animated videoI think it brought out even more of the story in this case! I think Abby Sunshine would be just as helpful as Max is to the Grinch. In fact, if you relate to little Max and his warm, loving disposition, you get a feel for what Abby is like. I can only hope we are not like the Grinch in Abby’s eyes! I have included a small clip of the animated version, showing little Max assisting his evil master to sew an imposter Santa suit.

Click on the Grinch below to watch the clip:

Channel Icon


The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville’s holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday.

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12-23-08 Abby, Nuts about Shoveling

I was able to catch a few action shots of Abby “helping” us clear the driveway of some newly fallen snow. As you look at the pictures, try to hear the sound of a dog barking. This is a part of the routine. It starts to sound like music after a while. It begins with first sight of the shovel, and ends when the shovel is put away.

abby-shovel Abby looks at the shovel, watches its every move and plans her attack of the snow fluff. At this point, you can see snow on her fur. This routine has already been occurring for some time.

abby-in-shovel-fluff Yes, Abby is in the middle of the flying snow. I think this is her dream and what she would consider complete success. She was able to master a full blast of snow. Bull’s eye!

abby-and-renae Abby keeps a clear eye on the shovel while Renae toys with her to see if she is paying attention. She makes small movements to lead the shovel, or guess its plan. She’s like a soccer goalie who is trying to “read” the opposition and figure out how they will attempt to score.

abby-and-renae-2 Ah, yes, the snow did fly and Abby was ready for it. She makes the most of any flying snow, whether large blasts or a smaller fluff.

abby-in-snow And this cycle could be repeated, and repeated, and repeated . . . . . . . . . .enthusiasm is maintained the whole time! That’s what’s great about dogs. They enjoy the simple pleasures, or they make simple pleasures from what some might consider monotony. They are able to bring playfulness into situations that not all humans would consider fun! This good attitude is catchy.

We can all learn a life lesson here; live joyfully in the moment.

What have you learned from your dog? I’d love to hear about it!

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12-22-08 Abby Sunshine Enjoys R & R

It’s probably a dead giveaway as to where we live, since I talk about the weather constantly. What am I supposed to talk about? It was -15 degrees this morning!! That air has a “bite” to it. 

abby-and-boots Here is what Abby is doing today. She has snuggled among our boots at the doorway. It is winter vacation, so I guess she’s planning on a day of rest and relaxation!

On these cold days, I notice that Abby really laps up her water with gusto! I think the air is very dry and her “dog instinct” is reminding her to hydrate herself. I set up our humidifier, too, so that should help all of us. I was just reading about dogs eating snow and that it is NOT a good way to keep hydrated. It requires additional energy. It’s very important to keep a full water dish available to your dog.

I notice that heated water dishes are available. They seem like a nice idea and I’ve heard people rave about them, but I’ve also read that for birds, heated bird baths are dangerous. In heated bird baths, supposedly the birds bask in the delight of unfrozen water- to then fly away and have water freeze in their wings and cause grave danger- and death. I don’t remember where I first read that, but now I haven’t found any articles to corroborate if this danger is real. In fact, I could only find articles to the contrary. Could it be an urban legend? (like the one about being able to see the Great Wall of China from outer space-I heard that one isn’t true!) While researching this, I’ve only discovered writings that mention the benefits of birds getting hydrated and preening their feathers successfully with this available open water.

Periodically refilling Abby’s outdoor water dish works well for me. In temperatures as low as today, it freezes quickly, but most days it doesn’t require that much extra attention. I’m not sure how often birds seek out water in dog dishes anyway!

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12-21-08 Abby Sunshine at Minus 12

Even though I admire Abby Sunshine being such a cold weather dog, I notice that she quickens the pace to do her duty on a -12 degree Fahrenheit morning.

abby-12 Here she is today, ready to get back into the house almost immediately after her potty break.

I noticed this first last night, on the darkest night of the year. Todd was out shoveling (a mere -6). Abby enthusiastically joined him, and as is her custom, she barked rambunctiously at the shovel and dove into the snow being thrown to the side. It would appear that she loves this. I sometimes don’t want her company while shoveling because I think I’m going to accidentally bonk her on the head, but so far, she’s always been quick enough. 

Well, last night, I stepped out to greet Todd and Abby in their shoveling splendor; it had been a blizzardy, windy day. Abby quickly ran to greet me and proceeded into the house. I didn’t stay on the step long, unless you’re dressed for it- it ain’t so grand being out in the cold. When I returned indoors, I assumed Abby would want to go back outside for winter fun. You know what happens when we assume things. . .  She saw me calling her, and that I was inviting her back outside to play. She stopped short and just looked at me. What she would normally do is dash to the door and seem pleased to go outside. This time, she expressed through her body language that she had put in sufficient time out there and had no plans of returning. I didn’t push it- I wanted to close the door and quit letting in the cold air! She curled up in a little ball and took a nap.

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