Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

1-31-09 Abby’s January Photo

Hey, check out Abby Sunshine’s January photo! It easy.

Go to the right side panel:

See her cute puppy photos at top right corner? Scroll down,

below that is the RSS Feed (where you sign up to receive new blogs sent right to you), scroll down,

below that is the Abby Sunshine newsletter (which is now “in the works”), scroll down,

below that is “ABBY Pages,” scroll down,

choose “Photo Gallery”

Wallah! You can see Abby each month of her life! 

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1-30-09 Abby Winter Sunshine

I wonder if winter should have been Abby’s middle name. What do you think? It’s a pretty name and you’ve gotta say she thrives in this season. What is the meaning in a name?

abbysunshine Another idea after looking at this photo is “Abby Wolf Sunshine.” Doesn’t she look sort of like a wolf here? Or maybe “Abby Red Fox Sunshine.” Now that’s catchy.

However, perhaps we must reflect back to Juliet in her words by Shakespeare for the answers to such questions:


What matters is what something is, not what it is called.


From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1594:

      ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
      Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
      What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
      Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
      Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
      What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet;

      So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
      Retain that dear perfection which he owes
      Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
      And for that name which is no part of thee
      Take all myself.


1-27-09 One, Big, Happy Family

We’ve had an on-going dialog about Abby and the felines becoming buddies, but really, how can we force a friendship? The cats barely like each other. Well, we shall never give up and never give in!

thorny-abby-hempy Here is an impromptu gathering in the hall. Before we knew it, all pets were nearby, so why not jump at the “teachable moment.” Keep in mind, this has been a two year acquaintance-building exercise. I think I can feel the winds of change. . . this may be the year for peace among animals.

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1-26-09 Ancient Civilizations and Abby

This morning I was inspired by another 9th grade Spanish class, this time the focus was cultural and the topic was Ancient Civilizations of Peru. As usual, my mind began to wander to Abby Sunshine. How would she survive in an early, bygone time? In class we learned about the long corridors and vast labyrinths made by people so long, long ago.

Sunken agricultural terraces of Moray, Sacred Valley. Photo: Mylene d’Auriol Cuzco Cusco tours

Agricultural terraces, Machu Picchu. Photo: Mylene d’Auriol Stoessel.

We don’t know the rituals or life patterns of the people from this time, so we can’t say with certainty how Abby would have fit into such a group. I can imagine her loving to run around these places, now ruins, but at that time, what level of freedom would a canine have had? Survival was likely to be at the top of the list, so a dog may not have been allowed those freedoms. On the other hand, maybe now we have more rules for dogs- all the places that proclaim “No Dogs!”

I think that if it were up to Abby Sunshine, she would have fit in just fine. I think she’s flexible about her surroundings so fitting in would have been natural to her. Whether it’s modern technology or hand-built irrigation systems, I think she would have been happy to simply drink some water, not concerning herself with the vast canal system.

Current Day Peru- Some people hold fast to a way of living that originates from long-ago Peru.

I can imagine Abby running with this current-day group by Lake Titicaca. In fact, she may be in her glory, near some water for handy-access to swimming, among a variety of animals for friendships, close to a person in charge, and lots of terrain to explore.

Shepardess, Capachica Peninsula, Lake Titicaca. Photo: Mylene d’Auriol Stoessel.



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1-25-09 Smooth Move, Abby Sunshine

We all know of Abby’s desperate measures to befriend her feline “siblings.” Well, sometimes she should pay attention to some social cues. Thorndyke runs away and makes faces at you, Abby, when you frighten her. If you run toward her, or if you move toward her quickly, she gets MAD at you. She may even hiss at you, and she’ll certainly leave you in the dust. Pay attention, Abby.

abby-with-thorndyke This is Thorndyke “scowling” with ears pinned back (pausing between hisses) while Abby continues to poke her nose where it’s not welcome.

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1-24-09 Abby Got A Haircut, Nanner, Nanner boo-boo

Even Abby Sunshine has to mind her personal care from time to time. Although a major haircut would not be healthy for Abby’s fur, trimming the hair between the footpads keeps it from matting and collecting debris outdoors. This prevents discomfort for the dog. Today we trimmed the fur sticking out from her pads. She took it like a good dog and offered her paws nicely. It appeared she would rather be doing something else, but allowed for the “beauty treatment!”  

abby-with-haircut As you can see by Abby’s “clean-cut” appearance, we also trimmed the fur on her ears. This fur can grow quite long, and although it looks stylish, it is fine and gets matted easily. Doesn’t she look grand? It was -2 (yes, two below zero) Fahrenheit when we took this photo, so the moisture froze quickly where there was dampness by Abby’s eyes and mouth.  

abby-with-haircut2 Another shot indoors- doesn’t her fur look silky, so silky?

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1-23-09 Giacomo Feeding a Dog

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta

Over the past few months, I have watched  children interacting with Abby Sunshine in such a warm and delightful manner. One day I sketched this youngster offering Abby a treat while a friend watches attentively. Doesn’t this image conjure up positive feelings? Wouldn’t you say that the dog is bringing some merriment into the lives of these two figures? What sounds would you hear if you were to enter the scene?

No, again this is my imagination gone wild. I did not create this pleasing picture. This is a chalk and charcoal piece of artwork, done by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, 1738-1739. He was an Italian artist, born in Venice, known for being a rococo painter, though he was also recognized for his charcoal renderings. This was way before my time!

I included it today because I spent the morning with a 9th grade Spanish class in Minnetonka. The students were studying pieces of fine art, and describing them in Spanish. The estudiantes were magnifico! It was an enjoyable experience to be in class with them.

So let’s describe this piece of artwork. What would you say? How does the dog remind you of Abby Sunshine? What makes you think this could be from a time long ago? How are the people feeling in this image?

Tell me more! I mean it! I want to know what you think!

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1-22-09 Ramsey IFAC

ramsey Ah, yes, Ramsey School. What a place! Abby and I were immediately greeted with friendly words as we entered this lovely building. I’ve always admired its look from outside and the architectural style. Inside it was warm and the art on the walls looked super! I taught here a while back and as luck would have it, today we read in two of the classrooms in which I was once the teacher!

abby-and-ms-erickson We first entered Room 132, with Ms. Erickson. The students noticed immediately that there was a canine visitor. They had a wonderful, calm presence around Abby. She seemed to feel comfortable in the room. You can see in the photo that she was feeling comfortable enough with Ms. Erickson that she is perhaps begging for a snack! We read A Day With Abby Sunshine and I was impressed with the excellent listening and good questions from the group. One question that came up is “does she bite?” This is so important to talk about. We are fortunate to have a dog with a calm disposition around people, but it is also important for people to know ways to behave around animals. We discussed giving Abby her space, talking at the appropriate volume, and to create a peaceful environment in general; after all, she is an animal. These are a lot of new people for Abby to meet, so the more serene the group can be, the better for everyone. Abby behaved really well!

Thank you Room 132. YOU ARE SENSATIONAL!


We moved along to Room 131, where I used to teach. It was great to see Ms. Lapp and the students in class were so curious and interested. It turned out that all of the students felt comfortable with dogs. This triggered the conversation about being open to new things in life. When I was the age of these kids, I really didn’t care for dogs, in fact, you could say I disliked them. Most of my life was “dogless.” When I grew up and married a dog lover, and then when my own daughter really wanted a dog, I had to re-think this attitude. The experience was so inspiring to me, that I wrote this story! We continued to talk about the inspiration for writing books (mine was this surprise of feeling such happiness with my dog) and then we talked about the steps I took while working on this book with Maren.

What a great discussion! 

abby-resting Abby felt relaxed with these awesome Ramsey 2nd graders. She  rested on the floor! Thank you Room 131. YOU ARE SPECTACULAR!

After lunch, Abby and I proceeded across the hall to Room 128 and Mrs. Schultz’s students. This is the other room where I once taught. It looked nice, wood floors!

abby-with-book Again we were warmly welcomed and by this time I think word had gotten out that we were here. Some of these students had already gotten a glimpse of us in our earlier classroom visits! We gathered on three colorful rugs in the front of the classroom. We read the story. During the story, Abby got distracted by something and began to whine a bit. We decided she must have smelled that they had eaten cupcakes earlier that day, and that perhaps she was interested in finding crumbs! We don’t know for sure, but that sounds good to me! We had a great discussion, and thankfully Mary was there, and willing to cut out the stickers for the students- Thanks, Mary! The students had fun ideas of what to teach Abby when they did a creative writing sheet.

abby-and-meghan Abby is standing nicely for Mrs. Schultz, wondering “can I be the classroom dog?”

Thank you, Room 128. YOU ARE MARVELOUS!

Next we dashed to Room 129 and Mrs. Reynolds. The children were already gathered nicely in a group area, ready for the story. Much to my chagrin, the large, foam pages of the book were out of order! During these intense discussions, we look at various pages and they easily get out of order. Luckily Mrs. Reynolds, Nancy and the students visited with me and asked questions while I was sorting pages! The students listened intently when I read the story. I appreciated this good listening. We talked about dogs and Abby’s breed. Abby wondered if this carpet, too, might have some delectible delights, so she sniffed it a bit.

abby-sniffing-floor The students got started on their creative writing sheet, but had to dash off to Spanish Fine Arts–places to go, people to see. These kids are busy, busy, busy. They were courteous as they departed and most gave Abby a special “good-bye” pet.


Thank you, Room 129. YOU ARE FABULOUS!


1-22-09 New Friends?

abby-and-no-hemple I was walking down the hall, wondering where Abby was, not hearing any noise of her collar jingling or other, so I began to feel suspicious. I discovered her in an unmade bed (I admit, our beds don’t always get made first thing in the morning- have you ever heard of such a thing?). I thought, isn’t she sweet, all curled up and looking cozy. I turned the corner to visit with Abby and planned to cordially invite her to leave the bedroom. Suddenly I heard a very harsh, HISSSSS! I looked beyond Abby and saw Hemple! Yes, Hemple our calico cat. Apparently Abby got he urge to cozy on the bed because she saw Hemple there. I’ve mentioned to you before that she really wants to be friends with her, even though Hemple treats her poorly.

abby-and-hemple1 Here is Abby maintaining a calm disposition; nearby is Hemple planning her escape route, but putting up with Abby in  the meanwhile.

Really now, who am I to judge? Maybe they have moved to the next level in their friendship? Overall, it appeared that this interaction was positive (aside from the HISSSS- I think Abby’s attitude is “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me, Hemple.”)

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1-20-09 Abby Sunshine Speaks Danish

We have been working on a 4th grade “Culture Box” project. Essentially, it is a report where the students choose a country, research it, interview someone from there, decorate a box to reflect the topic, place “artifacts” in the box and each student writes a personal story of their interview combined with what they’ve learned. It is considered a family project, so though Renae is the “project leader,” we are all participating.

Anyway, she chose to study Denmark. We are fortunate enough to live near a family originally from Denmark. New neighbors are always exciting, but when we met the “new” family and they had just come from Denmark, it was particularly interesting. They moved here for work (sadly only a couple of years). Renae has played with their children and they were clearly an inspiration to her choosing Denmark for the big task.

What do you know about Denmark?

What is the capitol of Denmark? Copenhagen, yes. Did you know Legos originated in Denmark? Brush up on your Shakespeare- where does Hamlet take place? A castle in Denmark- correct! Who is the current queen of Denmark? Margrethe II, correct.

And now some other little known facts that relate to the Abby Sunshine topic. . . .

Did you know that the people of Denmark have different words to describe animal sounds? (There are also 3 additional letters in the Danish alphabet, so not all of these words are spelled with accuracy- close, that’s all)

A pig says “of” not oink

A frog says “quak” not ribbit

A duck says “rap” not quack

A horse says “vrinsk” not nay, nay

A rooster says “kyeliky” not cock-a-doodle-doo

Those in common with us (cat says meow and cow says moo)

What does a dog say? abby-with-vov-3

Excellent Abby. Good dog.

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