Friday, August 28, 2009

Uncommonly Good

I was SO lucky to spot and get a decent photo of a Pileated Woodpecker, who was in a half-dead Maple tree right in our backyard. I have never seen one of these before. I heard it before I saw it, I looked around wondering what the dogs were getting into, sounded like a large something was being dropped on the wooden deck. Then I looked up and wow, a big bird this is! I was able to get the camera and managed to take a few shots before it flew away. It called out as it was flying, very prehistoric looking and sounding and very loud.

These Woodpeckers are 16-19 1/2" in length. This one is a male. The male has a red moustache on the side of it's face in line with the beak (not as red as the flaming red crest). Also, on the male the red crest starts right at the beak and goes back, on the female the forehead is black and the red crest starts after that. This shot angle and the angle of the bird doesn't show the neck and head shape well (very sythe-like), the neck is fairly long, the head is narrow when viewed from the back (fittingly, like a hammer!).

My Peterson Field Guide rates these birds as "Uncommon". This is also a first for me, to see a bird in this category. This is the Woodpecker that "Woody Woodpecker" was modelled after.

Male Pileated Woodpecker

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I received some pictures updating me on the tricolour Mason pups belonging to Cynthia Charbonneau of Cynchar Shelties. One of the sisters that I blogged about here, has finished her Championship in grand style at 9 months old with a BOW and Award of Merit (19 Specials) under Nioma Coen at the WASSA Specialty. Alexis (*new* Ch. Cynchar Rock The Cassbar) also won the Puppy Group the next day under Mark McMillan. Lexi is co-owned by Cynthia with Michelle Rogowski of Cassbar Shelties who owner-handled Lexi to her wins! Nice going, ladies!!

There are two other sisters in this litter that are looking extremely nice. I had featured them as babies here. One of those, "Hannah" was shown once and has a 5 pt. win to her credit, and the other "Jo", Cynchar Transcendental, is pictured below at 9 months old. She has not been shown as yet. Both of these girls are out of coat right now but will be out once they coat back up. What a lovely litter this was! I have high hopes for these three sisters.

Cynchar Transcendental, by Willow Cove's Prize Patrol ex Ch. Cynchar's Blackeyed Pea. 9 months old, one of three lovely tricolour sisters.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I've been trying to get pleasing pictures of the different birds that have been visiting our feeders. We just had four types of birds at first, now all of a sudden that's more than doubled and I'm going through seed like there's no tomorrow. There must be a billboard with a big arrow out there somewhere!

The cute little Black-capped Chickadees that come often every day, usually in a little group, have really eluded my attempts to get a good picture of them. They are the ADHD Toy breed dogs of the bird world! Little, cute and they never stop moving!! They flit to the feeder, then quickly fly off, eating the seed on a branch between their little blue feet, where all you can see is the top of their heads, they look up for a split second and they are gone. These guys don't sit still long enough to focus on them. Even if their feet stay planted their heads are moving and then...gone. I took HUNDREDS of pictures over a few weeks, getting many out of focus birds, completely empty branches, the hint of a wing or tail leaving the picture, some not bad shots but just not good enough and many, many tops of heads hoping to get them in the split second when they lifted their head before taking off.

Today I finally managed to capture these little birds the way I wanted to! These pictures are directly from the camera, not even cropped.

Black-capped Chickadees (click on photos for full screen view)

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Good Idea

I think it's good when dog people share the things that work best for them (and those that don't). With that in mind I wanted to share what I like the most about our set-up. Funnily enough, while I was writing this post a question about flooring on cement in a dog room came over the Canadian Shelties e-mail list. A similar question was just recently asked on another list. After trial and error we finally settled on the ideal floor for under our pens, but what we love the most about our set-up is our interior pens themselves. I am one that really doesn't like crating dogs for extended periods of time. When working full time or away longer than normal or in bad weather, if I had to crate them for most of the day and then all night as well, that would be just too long for my comfort level. We previously had four similar pens, made of wood framing and wire, but we didn't move them with us, they didn't last. These ones, while more expensive, will basically last forever. They can be put anywhere.

We had these custom made by the company that made the panels for our big outdoor dog run. There are 8 pens in total (we only use five now, lots of room for guests!) and these are not attached in any way to the walls or the floor, they are just attached to each other, and can be easily dismantled. Each one is 4 feet high, 3.5 feet wide and 6 feet long. For beds we use an older style 200 Vari kennel (with the bumps in the floor) with pegboard wrapped in a towel, blanket, etc. sitting on the bumps, so the dogs sleep off the floor. The Vari kennels all have the doors removed. Each pen has a large water bucket clipped to one side. Every dog has room to walk around, stretch out, etc. Should one have an accident or be sick, they can get away from it. None of them will mess their pens unless they have to. The pens do not touch the floor (something we learned from our last set of homemade pens) so that if liquid runs between pens, it can be 100% cleaned up, there is no "underneath" to seep under.

Here is a closer view of a pen. Underneath the whole set-up is a one-piece sheet of vinyl flooring glued to the cement floor. This floor has been down for 10 years and has stayed in excellent condition, and is so easy to clean. We had previously tried many kinds of cement paint and other similar floor finishes and never found one that was satisfactory. The legs of the pen that would normally be on the floor are unprotected, so Terry just used a drill to make the right sized holes in small wooden blocks for the legs to sit in. No damage to the flooring. As you can see, none of the sides of the pens touch the floor. When I feed them, I just slide the dishes under the gate, no need to even open the gates.

The dogs in their pens. They quickly learn which one is theirs. The door to the run is just beside the window on the left, the door to the fenced outdoors is just to the right. Letting them in and out is as easy as flicking the latches on the gates.

With puppies, we crated them until they were housebroken. When they earned a pen, if they messed in them they went back to the crate for a bit until they could stay clean in the pen. Most didn't even need that much training to stay clean. All of our dogs get house time every single day, so all are housebroken just like any other house dog. The cost for these 8 pens when we bought them was around $1,800. But, that works out to only about $165 per year so far....SO worth it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Roxanne! - Ch. Whitegates New York Minute

When I started this blog I had mentioned to someone that I would write something about each of the dogs we currently own, but in order to spread that out a bit and make it random, I would do it on their birthdays. Today is the birthday of the only dog left who hasn't had a post written for them yet. Roxy is also the youngest dog here, today she is four years old.

Roxanne is also from our final litter. Sired by Am./Can. Ch. Playland Ravenscourt Conection, ROMC and out of our Tiffany, BIS/BISS Am./Can. Ch. Laureate Fifth Avenue. Roxanne really looks like a smaller version of her mother, so we called her (Ch.) Whitegates New York Minute.

The litter of six consisted of 5 males and the lone girl, and little Roxy was the smallest puppy ever born here at just over 3 ounces. The rest of the puppies were normal size but right from the beginning, they were all determined to do their best to die. Roxy was so wee I never thought she'd make it. After a big struggle we were left with 4 puppies, including tiny Roxy. We ended up growing out Roxy and her brother Eric.

Not long afterwards we made the decision that we were no longer going to breed Shelties, so we needed to decide which ones we could/would place. We decided to place a couple of the young adults first, and in the meantime we could finish the puppies before placing them as well. However, a good home came up for either Eric or Roxy before we could get them into the show ring, so we let Eric go as he was starting to challenge Mason for position. Mason gets along great with other males so that made the decision easy, we didn't want Mason pressured into fighting back. So Roxy stayed and we ended up finishing her as a puppy with impressive wins in just four ring appearances, 3 Best of Breed, a Group 1st, Group 3rd and two Puppy Groups. Done.

After going through placing some dogs and the various emotions surrounding that, no potential placement seemed good enough for Roxanne so she just stayed. Sugar and Roxy were both born in 2005 and are great friends and playmates. With lots of old timers here, I worried that Sugar would be lost without her friend. What's one more, eh?

Roxanne at 3 1/2 months old. Tooooo cute!

Roxy at almost 9 months old. They were fast maturing puppies with big coats.

Roxy about a month ago. She really hasn't changed at all, despite maturing early.

Happy birthday, little one!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Robins Again, Almost Done

We thought the latest Robin nestlings were getting ready to fledge when we noticed that one was out of the nest, so I got my camera out. It was a false alarm, but I ended up capturing some other "robin moments" instead.

One guy out, the other two look quite comfortable with the extra space and not ready to spread their wings just yet.

Waiting to be fed.

Okay, I'm not going to do this alone, I'm getting back in, shove over! (He literally just jumped onto their heads and wormed his way back in).

"I love you, Mom!"

Is there any more?

Okay, I managed to get this shot, and yes, that's a baby bird butt in the air, the mother has fed them, now she is collecting the fecal sac before she leaves. Each time she will feed, then collect a fecal sac and fly off. This is how the nest is kept clean. Unfortunately, these strong, self-contained fecal sacs only exist at the nestling stage, after that, they poop in the regular bird way with which we are all familiar!!

You can see the white fecal sac in her beak and she then flew off to discard it.

Brotherly love (or, HEY, you're squishing me!).

Yes, there are three......see the third beak. One sibling always gets a raw deal!

The 14 second video below shows a feeding (which was right after the third one had returned to the nest) and afterwards she grabs the fecal sac that he had left on the top of the ladder and flys off.