Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Sizzle! - Ch. Whitegates Icy Hot

The beautiful Sizzle is 7 years old today, hard to believe! Sizzle is the 3rd of 4 generations we have living here, being Holly's daughter, Netta's granddaughter and Sugar's mother.

We bred Holly to Am. Ch. Shamont Night Vision and were so excited when the litter arrived. Quite early it was evident that the pick of this really nice litter was the blue girl.

Sizzle grew to be all that we had hoped for, a real quality girl, beautiful headpiece, great body too, very sound mover, and lots of outline. Very much like her mother (we called her "Mini Me" for the longest time), but even better. However, I have always felt that I was SO excited about her, that I pushed her too hard too fast, and she developed a dislike for the shows. She would go in the ring, stand there, but not do anything to help herself stand out or draw attention to herself. Still, she finished quite easily in Canada with a Specialty BOW and some other nice wins. In the U.S. she won 2nd in a huge 9-12 Futurity class at ASSA and also had a Specialty Sweeps Runner-Up and Specialty RWB win. (I sense a theme...a little more showmanship and the top spot could easily have been hers!).

We bred Sizzle twice. The first time we shipped her out and what a nightmare, she was sent back on a flight that didn't come here! She ultimately ended up in a boarding kennel in Philadelphia and if it hadn't been for some very quick and persuasive talking by Terry to the airline, I don't know what we would have done. After all that, she ended up having one very expensive puppy 5 days after her last due date! (Her skateboarding daughter!).

Naturally next time we decided to try closer to home and she had a beautiful litter of five girls, which included Sugar and her multi-talented sisters! All of Sizzle's six girls are out there doing something. It would have been nice to see what else Sizzle could have produced if we had kept on with breeding. Sizzle and Sugar were the ones we kept to go on with "in case" we changed our minds. Sizzle is a sweet, sweet girl and such a fantastic mother. She loves playing with her babies even when they are older. She still initiates play with the two younger girls we have.

I enjoy Sizzle for her delightful sweetness and for the joy in living with such a beautiful dog. There are many pictures of her just being her lovely self throughout this blog. The glam type shots we have of her aren't recent, although she really does look the same today.

Sizzle and her littermates at 7 weeks. Sizzle is the smiling face on the far left. Next to her is her bi-blue brother, Ch. Whitegates Paint Bi Numbers (U.S. pts.). Happy BD, Jester!

Sizzle at 7 weeks. In this line the puppies are "more". In fact, less isn't going to make it. The slight head turn when you talk to her is trademark Sizzle, she still does it at 7 years!

Sizzle at 8 months old. This is a very quick maturing line, she looks pretty much exactly like this today.

Sizzle headstudy at 8 months old.

Sizzle at 10 months at ASSA.

Winning a Best Puppy in Group at 11 months old.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Feeding Foster

Amazingly enough, little Foster is hanging in there. After I got him and wrote that I thought he had a 50/50 chance, later I thought, realistically, he probably only has a 10% chance at best. If he were a puppy, that's what I'd give him based on his condition.

He isn't sure he likes the bottle, sometimes he mouths it, sometimes he does suck on it and sometimes he just actively tries to eject it. He also uses up a lot of energy fighting it. So, I decided to tube feed him for about half of his feedings. I will say, tube feeding a kitten is different from tube feeding a puppy! They struggle like, well, a cat! He back pedals that tube better than any puppy so you really have to hang on for dear life to get it all attached up and working. And there is the little matter of the claws!

The first 24 hours here he didn't gain any weight, but the next, he gained 10 grams (.4 oz.). This a.m. I decided to get some fluid from the vet and I've injected some of that subcutaneously, as I find he seems dehydrated. A kitten's skin is really thin, quite different than a puppy so it's harder to get under it and stay under it, at least that's what I found.

According to the vet he was born last Wednesday so he's a week old, and here he is at newborn weight. I guess the next few days will tell if he will be a "failure to thrive" or if he can actually pull ahead. I wish I had got him sooner but all I can do is my best.

Robin update: There are now 4 new eggs in the new nest (which is in the exact same spot as the old nest). Let's hope some species of baby can manage to survive around here!

Monday, May 25, 2009


My vet clinic does wonderful work with an excellent local animal shelter. This year they've been overrun with babies (mostly kittens) whose mothers have been killed or fallen on hard times. The clinic staff does a lot of work to save the babies but they need to get some sleep sometimes and so they have certain clients that volunteer to raise them. Guess who signed up?! Who knew the phone would ring so soon...

This afternoon I picked up little Foster. He is the sole survivor of a litter of four kittens born to a homeless and very sick mother. She can't look after him and may not pull through herself. His littermates passed away overnight so it's still very much touch and go for Foster. He is nursing on a bottle, eliminating, and he's got quite the cry. He's very small though, and looks a little rough. He's probably got a 50/50 chance. I'll do everything I can and the rest is up to him and fate. He weighs 90 grams (3.2 oz.) and is just a few days old.

Bless my ever tolerant, supportive husband who wonders why but knows if I want to do it, I will. I did promise that if Foster survives, we WILL NOT be keeping him.

The old gals in the house are fascinated with him, particularly super-mom Netta.

Send good thoughts his way.

Addendum: Kittens this little purr. I guess I knew that, but,....he purrs! Tooooo cute.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Best In Specialty Show #8

Today our very special girl BIS/BISS Am./Can. Ch. Laureate Fifth Avenue (AOM ASSA '06) won her 8th Best In Specialty award at DC&SSA (her third time winning this show). She now has 8 BISS wins, 5 Canadian, 3 American.

We think it's significant that she won two BISS before she turned 18 months of age and has won three BISS from the Veterans class, this last one at age 10 1/2. True quality lasts.

Tiffany has always been owner-handled. We are so proud of her accomplishments and enjoy her every single day.

Tiffany winning BISS number 8 under judge Melanie Williams, from the Veterans Class, age 10 1/2 years.

Tiffany at 16 months of age, pictured the day she won her first Best in Specialty win.

May we be privileged to have her grace our lives for many years to come.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

(Almost) Summertime and the Living is Easy

We've finally been blessed with fabulous summer-like weather the last two days and we can't get enough of it. It seems like so long ago that we could sit outside and enjoy. The great weather doesn't last long enough in this Country, you feel guilty if you aren't enjoying every second of it. We're trying to do just that.

Mason - Master of his domain!

The beautiful Sizzle (Ch. Whitegates Icy Hot)

Terry and 13 year old Netta. The covered porch overlooks the back of our property, and is from where these pictures were taken (except this one!).

Hot enough for Mason to take advantage of his "B" hole.

Tiffany dozing on the porch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Construction

I had taken the robin's nest down completely and wiped off the top of the ladder with my glove. Imagine how surprised and pleased I was to see this today!

It's about one third done. It's funny, because yesterday I thought I noticed a few wisps up there, which I found odd because I thought I'd cleaned it off pretty well. I just figured I was imagining it and I hadn't cleaned it off as well as I thought! In the crook just underneath, you can see the start of yet another nest, but the space is kind of small and I think she's decided to stick with the top one. Last time she had started one on the other end of the top of the ladder but instead continued with the one she ended up with (which is closer to the opening of the carport).

I hope it's not a bad idea to build another nest in the same spot. It really *should* be a suitable and safe place.

I won't blog about every egg this time. I just really hope we can get back to where we were and hopefully get to a happy conclusion!

Way to get back up on that horse, little mama!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Harsh Reality

Twenty-two hours after last looking into the nest, I go out to check on progress. No robin sitting on the nest, so up the ladder I go. I take about six pictures, then look at the display screen. Imagine my shock to see this. I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. We have no idea what could have got to the nest, raccoon? Crow? ?? It doesn't look like this egg is viable as although it has a small hole in it, why didn't it hatch with the rest? Why wasn't it taken too? Most of all, we haven't seen the mother on the nest for a while now. Honestly, I just feel sick about it.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Two are now totally out of their shells. I don't know where the eggshell goes, because it doesn't appear to be in the nest and it's not on the ground around the nest.

The elapsed time between the first pictures/video today and the ones in this post is about six hours.

This movie clip is better than the last. They're hungry already! Now her real work begins.

On Their Way!

The robins have started to hatch today and I did get a good still shot of the first one mostly out of the shell and the second one just starting. (Click on the picture for a better view, those wisps are feathers, not part of the nest). The little movie clip isn't very good as I didn't have it set properly but I decided to include it anyway as it shows the effort required to hatch. I'll try to do better next time. It's a bit of trial and error as I can't see what I'm shooting or filming until after the fact and obviously can't be spending too much time up there as I don't want to put the mother off. I wonder how long it takes for all of them to be completely free of their shells.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Family Swim

No new robins yet, but I've been watching these early goslings and their parents on a pond down the road from us. They have the whole area to themselves and are quite wary. The babies are adorable! Just the three of them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dressed To Impress

Still mating season and I caught the turkeys out in the back, I came upon them quite suddenly so I must not have been crashing through the brush quite as loudly as I thought. Here he is in what we like to call "full Thanksgiving" mode.

The head is more visible in this shot, and it turns colour, from flesh colour to a bright blue. This is the only time of the year they are seen like this. Un-"puffed" they look much like the hens. The hen was just ahead of him, pretending she didn't care.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

Many thanks to my dear, sweet husband who brought me home a wonderful new camera with lots of zoom! I don't need to wait for my birthday (in August!), but I did have to wait a couple of days for the rain to stop to get out and try it out. Here are some of my first attempts.

Patiently sitting on the four eggs that should hatch this week. I'll bet she was glad of the roof in the torrential rain we had!

I ventured out behind our property for all of the rest of these shots. There are 75 empty acres behind and around our three.

A river runs through it.

Eastern Kingbird

Playing with the macro feature for this shot and the next. This snail shell on the forest floor was the size of a thumbnail.

This little flower was even smaller.

What have we here? A pretty big porcupine.....

....who decided to climb a tree (after bristling up for me, showing me his impressive tail and backside). See how long the tail is. These guys really look like a beaver in a quill coat. The face is really similar and so is the tail. I was glad I didn't bring any dogs with me!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Granny's Attic

When I was a child I found this picture in my Grandmother's attic (lower corner says copyright 1910). No-one seemed to know where it came from or what it was doing there. I loved that it was not only a Smooth Collie but a blue one at that! This must have been the start of my love for all things blue merle.

I'm cleaning out my office and stumbled on this again. I haven't been kind to it over the years. It's been subjected to scotch tape and that sticky tacky stuff to hang it on my bedroom wall when I was a kid. Corners have broken off. It's printed on cardboard and is really nothing special. I still love it though. I've kept it out and will finally get it framed for it's own protection.

Thanks to the internet I've finally been able to figure out where it came from, I think. The copyright 1910 is by Church & Dwight Co. which is a company still in existence (and has been for 150 years). Bicarbonate of soda is their product, think Arm & Hammer. Hmmm. Remember free tea towels in laundry detergent, Red Rose Tea figurines? So I looked under special marketing tools on their website and sure enough, there are pictures and descriptions of marketing tools used at the turn of the (previous) century. Cards and pictures were among them, including those of "champion dogs". These collectibles would be free in your box of product. The artist is a very well known dog artist named Gustav Muss-Arnolt (1858-1927). He was also a dog show judge. It was always obvious to me that whoever painted this knew his dogs. Especially considering it was done in 1910 or earlier, it's a very nice specimen of the breed. His art is in some very well known galleries and quite a few pieces are owned by the AKC. I couldn't find this Collie mentioned or pictured anywhere. I'm sure the original is beautiful, I wonder where it is.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Nice 'N Even

The sun is soon to go down and the bird left to get a quick meal. I was lucky enough to go out at just the right time. Because I can't see into the nest, it's really kind of exciting to take a picture and then have to look at the display screen on the camera to see if anything has changed, if there is a new addition, or not. A little like whelping a litter!

Still not using the flash and once in the house I decide it's kind of a dark picture so I go out to try again, but she's already back on the nest. This will have to do.


The Robin is on the nest all the time now incubating the eggs, so we have 12-14 days to wait until the eggs hatch. I suppose it's possible she might have laid another one and if the nest is ever unoccupied, I'll try to find out. She flew out when I drove in this morning, a bit of dodging of the van and negotiation required on her part. I might have to park somewhere else for a while.

Such a beautiful day today. Sandra came over with her Sheltie and we spent the whole afternoon outside with all the dogs.

Sandra with two mother/daughter sets, Tiffany/Roxanne (sables) and Sizzle/Sugar (blues). The mothers bringing up the rear, the daughters ahead.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wild Kingdom

Today's offering. The robin wasn't on the nest until 11:30 a.m. and left around 2:00 p.m. However, she's back now so this might be it, we'll see. Tomorrow should tell.

Spring is definitely here, for some reason I was out and about very early this a.m. picking up after the dogs and the locals were out in full force. Last night I had woken up at around 4:oo a.m. with coyotes making a racket outside. I hadn't heard them for a while. I don't know why, but the four dogs sleeping in our bedroom don't react to them at all. I was out at 7:30 a.m. this morning and for the first time ever I actually saw a coyote close to our property. It tried to catch a bird, there was a bit of a racket as the bird flew up and the coyote kind of jumped after it, it was a close call but the coyote missed. Then the coyote noticed the dogs and just stared at them. The old girls didn't notice it and were quite far away. I did get my camera and got a picture, but again, not close enough so not good enough to share. Shortly after I heard and saw turkeys in the back, they are LOUD, still at their mating rituals. Then a white tailed deer. Another good clear shot but not enough zoom. Guess what I'm asking for for my birthday!

We have a couple of chipmunks again this year, my favourite rodent, I just love them. They've been skipping across the front lawn, burrowing in the garden and eating dog food in the garage when they can get in! We do our best to make things safe and comfortable for them (and only them!) around here. No mouse traps in the garage or outbuildings until the chipmunks go into hibernation. We removed open buckets, etc. from under downspouts after a few unfortunate accidents. Luckily, they have no trouble figuring out how to safely get water when there are no puddles, etc. around:

What a difference a month makes. Things are really getting green and the trees are budding. Bring it on!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

And Then There Were Two

I guess the previous egg was a May Day baby, because here is today's offering. I had read that they lay them mid-morning or so, to enable the mother to eat both before and after, since it takes so much out of them. If you look at the size of the egg and the size of the bird, it IS pretty much like giving birth to a bowling ball every day for several days!

I have to climb up on a(nother) ladder to get to the nest and hold the camera above it. Since it's so close to the roof, I can't get my head over it to see into the nest. I can only see what's in the nest by viewing the picture I've taken. I'm experimenting with the right spot to hold the camera and had to turn off the flash for this shot.

I'm thinking the nest looks a comfy size for four.

Live and Let Live

It's a typical Saturday, time to get some things done around the house. After a major rain one day during the week, we could tell that one of the downspouts from the flat portion of our roof must be blocked by debris, by the way the water was sheeting off the roof. Hmmm...we said to each other that on the weekend we would try to clear it ourselves, probably wouldn't have to get right up on the roof to do it (let's hope). Meanwhile, we are both thinking, maybe we shouldn't attempt it. Or, maybe attempt it but give up really quick if it doesn't feel right. So, first job up, Terry goes out to the carport to get "the big ladder". He comes back empty handed, and here's why:

The big ladder, hanging in the carport, fresh new Robin's nest on top of it.

Close up of nest on top of the end of the ladder.

A single egg (so far) in a perfect nest.

Snug and secluded, with built-in roof. Right beside where I park every day. How fast did they build this?

So of course, scratch that job, we can't move the ladder now probably all summer. We're both kind of relieved to have a great excuse to "call a guy" to clear the roof. Who knows, by saving the Robins, they might have saved us from ourselves.

I was a little concerned about just the one egg, but a little reading on the internet told me they only lay one egg a day, until they have 4 or 5. They don't sit on them until all the eggs are laid, letting them cool, that way, the eggs will hatch at the same time. I say "they" ... the nest is totally built by the female and she does all the incubation.

I also read that Robins don't reuse their nests, but other sites said they will. I know for a fact they do, as we've had others reuse a nest for a second clutch in the same year. The parents of this egg are the pair that have been hanging out on our front lawn, one of them is pictured in the April snowstorm post I did, huddled under a tree. With that snowstorm just 3 weeks ago and the record breaking windstorm we had while I was in Georgia, a nest with a roof and walls around it must have seemed like a great idea!

I'm looking forward to following this family!