Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

3-31-09 The Rainy Day


What do you suppose Abby Sunshine is doing outside today? It is wet, wet, wet. 

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

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3-30-09 Spring is here, right?

Look at Abby Sunshine. She is hunkered down, in the corner on a windy, 41 degree Spring day.

abby1 When you think of the season of Spring, is this the image that jumps into mind? Leaves, dirt, wind blowing through little Abby’s fur? No, I think this looks like a fall day. This does not show the green tips of daffodils readying themselves for growth. I do not see any crocus sprouts emerging. In fact, where is the sunshine? If I were to illustrate an image of Spring, I’d use vibrant markers and surely include a nice, bright yellow to show the sun as the earth is coming back to life.

abby2 Here Abby looks off into the distance. What does she see? An active robin, finding a worm? A lively squirrel, running about? No, I daresay not. She is looking to a back yard with leaves and debris blowing by, the sky a tone of gray, and the tennis balls, not flying.

F.Y.I. Moments after these photos were taken, Abby took advantage of my being there and quickly brought me the necessary toys for an energetic game a fetch. I think she is fine about the “fall-like” day today. She posed well for these images–must have sensed I was looking to capture a somber mood! It makes me think that sometimes it is a matter of choosing our mood. Abby brought some sunshine to me on this gloomy day!

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3-28-09 Queen Luna

Luna Larkspur was the subject of a very intersting project. The artists were asked to paint their pet wearing clothes!

queen-luna As you can see, Valerie has decided to paint Luna wearing royal garb and sitting in a very stately posture. I think this says a lot about Luna. What comes to mind when you look at this painting?

queen-luna-3 The project all started with a photograph. Notice Luna’s photo pinned up on top? The painting starts by creating your animal in a certain pose- What do you envision the animal wearing? You can see Valerie’s magestic Luna to the left. She saw Luna sitting in such form that to her the crown, thrown and aristocratic attire made sense. Her daughter, however, saw Luna in a different light. Notice her fun hat, shirt and scarf–with decorative tail embelishments? She saw Luna as very happy outside on a sunny day!

How would you paint your pet? What would it be wearing?


3-27-09 Sisters

Here are Abby and Luna. They pose for one shot before going off to rest.


It’s been a big day at the birthday party. These two have expended quite a bit of energy. The excitement of being in a new place, being around a “sister” that you don’t see every day, and getting a few extra dog treats all create an overwhelming appearance of exhaustion.

I like this picture. It looks like the dogs were planning a symmetrical pose. Luna has a bit of assistance staying still. She has some puppy energy that can make modeling a challenge! 

How do you feel at the end of a party? If you are guest? If it is your own party?

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3-26-09 Do Kids Like Dog Birthday Cakes?

Kids are often up for a piece of cake, right? They are pretty flexible about it. I’ve noticed at birthday parties that even if the children don’t finish their piece of cake, they are very optimistic about it- and often want a piece, the bigger, the better, the more frosting, the better. This may not be the case with dog birthday cakes.

Judge for yourself.

party-9 not so sure, is she smiling or wincing?. . .notice Abby wants a bite . . .

 party-10 doesn’t look positive. . .

 party-11 I don’t think so . . . .

Kids do not like dog birthday cakes. That is my conclusion.

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3-25-09 Eating the Birthday Cake


The dogs enjoyed their cake. You can see them making sure to get each and every crumb. Here is the recipe:

Dog Birthday Cake

1 C.  Whole Wheat Flour

1 t.  Baking Soda

¼ C.  Peanut Butter

¼ C.  Cooking Oil

1 C.  Shredded Carrots

1 t.  Vanilla

1     Egg 

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Place in greased baking pan. A ring mold makes an interesting a decorative shape for the cake. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. You may frost the cake with cottage cheese, melted cheese or peanut butter,depending on what you think your dog would like. Decorate with some carrot pieces or hot dog bites. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!


Looking carefully for more cake. . .


Now they are off and ready to play some more!

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3-24-09 Luna Turned One

Abby attended a birthday party. She was actually an invited guest. This is a first. The party was for Luna, and I guess it was really we humans that coordinated the whole thing. Dogs just don’t do stuff like that. 

ready-for-the-party Look at Luna in her finery. She wore a lovely blue bow. This didn’t stay on for very long! The special dog-friendly birthday cake is being transported to Valerie. Luna and Abby know that something good is about to come their way.


Yikes! Those dogs are quick! The hand-off is a bit shakey. The dogs are still interested, very interested indeed.


Luna gets her first piece. Abby waits patiently. Does she know that the birthday girl gets served first? I think not. She is just waiting patiently. Stay tuned for more birthday. . . .

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3-23-09 Introducing Luna Larkspur

I’d like to take this moment to introduce you to Abby’s little sister, Luna Larkspur. What’s really cool about Luna’s family, is that they were inspired by Abby! They chose to embrace Luna as their pet from some marvelous times they had with Abby. That is a compliment! Good dog, Abby Sunshine. They’ve really enjoyed Luna, and all of the exuberance of a puppy, during their first year with her.

luna This photo was taken last summer when Luna was visiting Abby Sunshine. She was not a litter mate of Abby, but she and Abby have the same mother, Kat. Abby and Luna look similar, both are Duck Tollers, but Luna has a dark nose and dark eyes. Abby’s eyes were blue when she was a little tyke and eventually turned to a color that matches her fur.

Luna and Abby have a lot of adventures. The relationship between these two Tollers has many parallels to human big and little sisters- or so it seems to us. Look at how sweet little Luna looks in this photo! You wouldn’t think she could bug anyone. Well, she does bug Abby Sunshine from time to time. Luna takes the role of being an energetic, fun-loving, but annoying little sister. Abby’s role is that of the elder, in-charge, grumpy older sister. When they get past this, they get along just fine.

Have you ever done anything that bugged your sister or brother?

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3-21-09 Spring has Sprung!

puppy with songbird on head

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3-20-09 Visitation

Yesterday I read A Day With Abby Sunshine to a group of 4th graders at Visitation School. Little did I know that I would run into someone I knew in that class! A student that had been in a violin class with Renae was in the group. What a small world. It was fun to see her. I hope she tells her mom about my visit, though I forgot to tell her to send greetings to her mom. 

Have you ever been in a situation like that? You see someone you know, but it is out of context and you have to figure out who they are for a second? It feels kind of strange, and then quickly becomes cool! What was your situation like that? Where were you?

Anyway, the kids were great as I read the story. I especially enjoyed when they laughed out loud about Abby liking sticks! There is something funny about that, so I appreciate when a good audience sees the humor. They listened well and had great questions and comments afterward. The focus was writing and the writing process. One student noticed that I had chosen some interesting words. We discussed that in writing, it is a good idea to use descriptive words. Another noticed the illustration combined with photography. Really, we talked about so much.

I brought along a sheet that the students could use to generate their own story- a beginning to a story idea. 

writer-1 The center circle was where they sketched a picture of an animal they would like as the main character of their story.

writer-2 In the smaller circles going around the center, they would sketch images of what their animal might do in a day- using A Day With Abby Sunshine as a guide.

writer-3 On the lines, they jotted notes about these activities, or details important to the animal’s day. We discussed “fiction” and “non-fiction” ideas. They could choose either.

writer-4 This student chose to place her Abby Sunshine sticker on the top front of her desk. I like how this photo turned out. . .I think it captures that she is thinking about what to write, it shows her desk, paper, and an eraser handy for good writing!

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