Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

1-31-11 More Skijor

Well, are Renae and Gus ready to work together?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor3 - January 2011

I should say so! Off they go. . .

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor4 - January 2011

Heads turn as this dynamic duo charges down the ski path.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor5 - January 2011

After rounding a hill, they appear on top, running furiously.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor6 - January 2011

They glide down a hill with rocket speed.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor7 - January 2011

It looks like they are slowing down a bit. Hmmm. . . why would they do that?

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1-30-11 John Beargrease Sled Dog Race

Today is the start of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota . Check out this short video!

Beargrease TV Ad

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1-30-11 The Season of Skijor

Winter is here! What does that mean? Skijor is here! What’s the problem with that? Well, for Abby, it means she gets to stand aside and let Cousin Gus have all of the fun.

Skijoring is a sport where one or more dogs and a cross-country skier work together. The skier provides power with skis and poles, and the dog adds energy by running and pulling. There is special equipment necessary for this sport. Aside from skis and poles, the skier wears a skijoring harness. The dog wears a sled dog harness, and the two are connected by a length of rope.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Gus and Abby - January 2011

Let’s get ready so Renae and Gus can hit the trail. We need to make sure Gus is wearing his harness properly.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor25 - January 2011

Renae has adjusted the belt to fit around her waste. The skijoring belt has a wide waistband which is clipped around her waist and also clipped to the line. Special quick-release latches are often used so that the skijorer may unhook the dog’s lead rapidly. Renae has practiced using the quick-release. It’s not quite as easy as the name suggests. That is why it is very important to be a confident skier, to have a good dog, and that the skier and dog have a positive relationship.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor - January 2011

Renae is all set. Gus is champing at the bit. This requires teamwork. Are they ready to work together?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Skijor2 - January 2011

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1-17-11 A Loyal Dog, A Devastating Flood

After Brazil flooding, loyalty to the dead

dog by grave

As the death toll from devastating flooding in Brazil continues to rise, a single picture drives home the sense of loss.

Leao, a medium-sized brown mutt,  lies next to the grave of her owner, Cristina Maria Cesario Santana, who died in the catastrophic landslides caused by heavy rain.  This AFP/Getty picture was taken on Saturday, the second consecutive day that the dog refused to leave the woman’s grave at the cemetery in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janiero.

Brazilians are bracing for more rain, fearing more landslides after waves of muddy water swallowed towns in the country’s worst flood disaster on record.

At least 655 deaths were reported in a mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state, northeast of the city of Rio.

CNN report 1-17-11

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1-10-11 Hempy in the Pre-Abby Years

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I think it’s only appropriate to share times when Hemple was “king of the hill.” No dog in the house!!

Renae and Hemple1 Renae and “kidn.” Hemple was very new here, probably around 8 weeks old. Renae would drag a string, or something, and Kitty would chase it.

Renae and Hemple2 Hemple was never too far from Renae. I think she knew that Renae was a bundle of energy, so wherever she was, kitty would be in on the fun.

Renae and Hemple3

She was also very cozy.

Renae and Hemple4

Didn’t I already mention that Hemple was never too far away?

Renae and Hemple5 “Sisters” of a difference species

Renae and Hemple Renae and Hemple were photographed by Auntie Anita. The photo was done in black and white and then hand-tinted. It is a beautiful piece. The photo for this blog was taken through glass.

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1-9-11 Abby and Hemple, Through the Years

Hemple, Abby’s feline “sister-friend” passed away recently. Though I wouldn’t say that she and Abby were close, I would say that they peacefully co-existed, learning from one another. Hemple was “top dog” (in a home without dogs) for seven years before Abby Sunshine joined the family.

Hemple joined our family through a special event at the Humane Society. It was Pajama Day! The promotion stated to show up wearing your pjs and there was some special deal on pet adoptions. I can’t remember what the bargain was, but I vividly remember Renae and I dressed in pajamas, petting kitties! We met some adorable 7-week kittens, two of which were calico. Renae was one year at the time and called them “kidns.” She loved them.

The rest is history.

Here is an early meeting between Hemple and Abby. In this photo, Hemple may be more distracted by being outside (she was an indoor cat) than the fact that a new little puppy is looking at her.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - With Hemple - September 20062006

Here is the family, pets and all. Lisa is holding Thorndyke, Todd has Hemple, and of course, Renae is with Abby Sunshine, the “baby” of the family.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Family - September 20062006

Hemple also inspired artwork. This piece was done in marker by Renae.

Calico Cat - Hemple - October 20062006

Hemple often enjoyed rest and relaxation.

Calico Cat - Hemple - April 20072007

As Grandma Dori noticed, Hemple wasn’t shy to stare at you.

Calico Cat - Hempy - August 20082008

She kept herself well groomed. Her fur always looked great.

Calico Cat - Hemple - November 20082008

She was a curious cat.

Calico Cat - Hemple2 - November 20082008

Renae enjoyed many special times with the kitty “sisters.”

Calico Cat - Hempy with Thorny and Renae - August 20082008

Renae made a castle for her Denmark project, and Hemple decided it was a safe haven – you can see her on the other side of  the drawbridge.

Calico Cat - Hemple in Castle - February 20092009

Hemple and Thorndyke could be seen hanging out together.

Calico Cat - Hempy with Thorny - March 20092009

Abby could be found trying to get close to Hemple, being as gentle as possible.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - With Hemple - January 20092009

We often worked with all pets to bring them close together. This was not Hemple’s favorite activity.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - With Hemple and Thorndyke - January 20092009

Thorny and Hempy would sit by our artwork of two cats that look much like them! The original 1894 piece is a Gigclee print by Theophile Alexandre Steinlen.

Calico Cat - Hempy with Thorny - January 20102010

Hemple would sometimes curl up into a ball.

Calico Cat - Hemple - October 20102010

Other special memories of Hemple- she would come to a whistle, pretty remarkable for a cat! She also had the nickname “pencil toes.” When she would walk on your back while you were lying in bed, her legs felt like pencils. If they weren’t digging uncomfortably into you, sometimes this experience could translate into a nice back massage. She would usually be purring all the while.

Calico Cat - Hemple2 - October 20102010

Thanks for the good times, Hemple.

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1-8-11 What now?

For goodness sake, what now?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - What now - January 2011

Sometimes it seems like Abby wonders why I am taking her picture, again.

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1-5-11 Long Winter’s Nap

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby in Bed - January 2011

Sure, Abby looks innocent in this photo- crawling into Renae’s bed after she’s gotten up for the day. (actually, how innocent is that?)

I’ll tell you what my alarm clock was this morning. It was Abby. Was she barking? Was she howling? Was she whining at the door? No, she was bounding onto my bed, and jumped on me. There are mornings like these, where Abby gets particularly energetic and can’t resist running down the hall- full blast- and then bounding up onto our bed.

Now look at her, she is trying to tell you that she’s just been sleeping this whole while and doesn’t know what I’m talking about . . . is that so? Well, let’s take a look at her accomplice who’s by her side on the bed. . .

Thorndyke - January 2011

“Yes, Abby was here all the while. She’s just been napping.”

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1-4-11 Duck Toller Puppies

Who is peeking at us with those cute, puppy-dog eyes? Abby? Is that you?

Duck Toller Puppies12 -  January 2011

No, of course this is not Abby Sunshine. Every so often, we make a trip to Abby’s homeland. We enjoy visiting the breeder where she was born, Manitou Tollers, in Forest Lake, Minnesota. We delight in playing with little fluffball puppies! They are so cute!!!!

The litter we adored on this occasion are “nieces and nephews” of Abby. Her half-sister, Tori, has seven adorable little pups. There are five females and two males. They are five weeks old.

The little critters were in constant motion and full of energy, I could hardly get any clear photos. In fact, many of my best shots are when they are getting sleepy. That’s when they slowed down a little bit. They were hilarious to observe. After playing with extreme gusto, they would get tuckered out and nap. After a brief moment of calm, they would wake up and scurry around all over again. I can see why people fall in love with puppies.

Enjoy music while looking at the puppy highlights- notice the song slowing down and speeding up, just like the puppies.

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Duck Toller puppy highlights:

Duck Toller Puppies4 -  January 2011

Duck Toller Puppies5 -  January 2011

Duck Toller Puppies15 -  January 2011

Duck Toller Puppies - Renae with Pups2 - January 2011

Duck Toller Puppies - Renae with Pups7 - January 2011

Duck Toller Puppies - Renae with Pups8 - January 2011

Duck Toller Puppies - Renae with Pups11 - January 2011

If you’d like to get on a waiting list for a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, you may reach them at

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1-3-10 Lassie – Story Recommendation

Usually we do book recommendations, but today we had to recommend Lassie, the movie we just watched last night. The character of Lassie has been around for quite awhile, there have been many books written about her, as well as TV shows and movies. Who could be a more popular good dog than Lassie, a really smart Collie?

We think they did a nice job putting together this 2005 version of a timeless story. It is a great flick! We recommend it to anyone that appreciates a smart dog , adventure and good-hearted owners. We also enjoyed the setting- beautiful scenery. Of course, there is no mistaking a little boy who loves Lassie,- the acting worked.



Poverty stricken, the Carraclough family is forced to sell their precious pup to a wealthy duke (Peter O’Toole) who lives more than 500 miles away — until the loyal Lassie escapes and braves an incredible journey home. Set against the colorful backdrop of World War II Britain, director Charles Sturridge’s heartwarming film version of the world’s most famous collie weaves a compelling tale of survival, adventure and love.

Check it out!

Next, read books about Lassie. She has some excellent adventures.

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