Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mason's Latest Champion

I received the show photo from Mason's latest Canadian Champion, a sable male bred by Linda James and Gaye Shepley, out of their Ch. Ravenscourt GrandGables Sachet. "Patrick" is Can. Ch. number 7 for Mason (he also has one Am. Ch.) and number 3 for his dam.

New Ch. Ravenscourt Briarlea McDreamy! Beautifully groomed and expertly presented by Cheryl Pike. My thanks and congratulations to all on a lightening-quick finish!

I love sitting at home and getting all the good news, pictures, etc. of the Mason kids and other Whitegates dogs and relatives out there. At the moment, that's exactly where it's at for me!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Same, But Different

I had seen the little Red-Breasted Nuthatches around for a while at the feeders, and just in the last few weeks, the White-Breasted Nuthatch as well.

I was pleased when I recently got a good picture of the Red-Breasted Nuthatch. Woodpecker-like, with their short tail, eating insects and often upside down on tree trunks. If you enlarge the picture you can see their curved beak. They don't bore into trees like Woodpeckers, but pick out insects under bits of bark. They are really pretty with a unique call.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

For several days I have been going out to feed the Chickadees by hand, and all other birds would fly away, except for the Red-Breasted Nuthatch, who would stay in the vicinity, doing its thing. As I stood there patiently with my hand held out, I wondered why the Nuthatch wouldn't try to eat from my hand too, it must see how the Chickadees have been profiting from their boldness. Just as I had this thought, the little mind-reader decided to fly in for a sample:

Since I didn't have a camera with me, I had to go inside and get it. On my way back outside to try for these pictures, didn't the Nuthatch fly right up to me and land on my shoulder as I was walking! It also landed on my index finger on the shutter button as I was set up to try for pictures, and checked out my face. It walked up and down my arm. It also pecked at the nailpolish on my thumb! All or nothing with this guy! And yes, it's a guy, the females have grey heads like the wing colour, the males have black like this one.

This shot shows the very short tail. I love the blue-grey wings.

This shot also shows the curved beak well. What a pretty little bird, about the same size as the Chickadees.

The White-breasted Nuthatch. They are about double the size of the little Red-Breasted variety. This one is a female, the males have a black cap instead of grey, just like the other variety.

The White-Breasted female upside down on a tree. A position very common for both varieties of Nuthatch.

We have to take the feeders in each night, as we have a raccoon who will empty and has broken two of them. Tonight when Terry went out to get the feeders, apparently the little Red-Breasted Nuthatch was fluttering all around his face, checking him out and looking for a handout. It seems I've created a monster....

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I like the little Black-capped Chickadees best of all the birds, so very cute and with their call that announces their name! And, it turns out, so very tame! I'd heard of people feeding them from their hands, so I decided to try it with "my" Chickadees. I went near the feeder for the bigger birds which scares them away and makes it easy for the Chickadees to get in. When the feeder is almost empty, it's easier for the Chickadees to take it from your hand than to struggle for crumbs from the feeder. And they did! I used a mixture of seeds/nuts, but they almost always picked sunflower seeds or peanut pieces, so I stuck to using just those. Not all of them will do it, but most of them will, it's fun!

I decided to try to get pictures of them eating from my hand, I wasn't sure how it would work out as it meant holding the camera in one hand only, the "wrong" hand for me. I'm left handed and, of course, the shutter button is on the right side of the camera. It sure makes it difficult when everything is backwards! So I had to feed them with my left hand and both hold and shot the camera with my right hand. After an initial awkwardness it turned out better than I thought and I got some good shots!

Each picture is a different landing, sometimes even two birds will go for your hand at once. Give it a try! Their little feet are so light on your hand. I grab a handful of feed every now and then and go out to feed them, it's relaxing and picks up your spirits at the same time. These little guys stick with us through the whole long winter, so consider giving them a "helping hand"!

Aren't I the cutest?

Decisions, decisions!

Okay, THIS one.

I don't want to be a little pig...

"Dining in".... (this guy decided to eat right on my hand instead of flying away with it)

Some like sunflower seeds

...and some like peanuts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Acts of Kindness

I already knew that I had the best vets in the world. Skilled, hard-working, compassionate, they always go above and beyond. In fact, everyone at the clinic is top notch. No wonder they have such a large breeder clientele and many clients that travel long distances to get to them. They are the same vets who saved Ozzy in my "Cob Caution" post.

Imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang yesterday and I received delivery of this beautiful flower arrangement in loving memory of Brooke, from all of the staff of our vet clinic.

Of course I burst into tears but I was so touched that they would be thinking of me the next day, the day when I was calling all the dogs Brooke by mistake, taking away her bed, still stepping over her spot, making one too many dinners. Nobleton Veterinary Clinic, they are a real class act. It was so appreciated, as were all the notes and calls I've received. I am very thankful for all of these acts of kindness, they really help in the healing process.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Brooke - Ch. Whitegates Just One Look

January 2, 1998 - October 19, 2009

So loved, always such a good dog. The sweet one.

Please click on the large, right facing triangle to listen to the beautiful Hawaiian rendition of this song, selected in memory of our Brooke.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cob Caution

About a year ago a Sheltie bred by us almost died from eating a corn cob or piece of one. This wasn't a corn-on-the-cob corn cob (although those would have exactly the same effect), but a piece of cob from a decorative (fall, harvest, halloween) corn cob. That decorative piece of cob found it's way into his area compliments of a squirrel or raccoon, and it very nearly cost him his life.

At the time, I was going to write about it, as I had never heard of the dangers of corn cobs until this incident, and hadn't ever read about it on any e-mail list, etc., but I never did get around to it. But now, 'tis the season once again, and I was given a reminder.

Imagine my surprise when I found this on our front lawn yesterday:

All the corn kernels but one had been picked out of this obviously decorative piece. This wasn't ours, and any neighbours we have live acres away from us. So, it could've only been brought here, a considerable distance, by an animal of some sort. Our dogs don't go in the front, so they were safe from any temptation to chew on this, but I HAVE found, on occasion, pieces of cob, decorative or otherwise, in our fenced 2 1/2 acres in the back, where our dogs DO go. I have NO idea how they got there, it had to be a wild animal bringing it in, because they weren't from us.

Our boy that ate the cob became violently ill when the piece of cob that had been kicking around in his stomach tried to pass from the stomach to the intestine and got stuck at that juncture. Only a super aware owner, terrific vets and good fortune saved this dog. He was in surgery before 24 hours had passed from his first symptoms, or he would not have made it. He was the THIRD case they had operated on that WEEK, and one other was not so lucky. Corn cob does not digest and the size is just right to be the perfect foreign body obstruction. Just google corn cob/obstruction/canine, it's one of the main causes of foreign body surgeries, and unfortunately, many canine deaths. I was also surprised to find out that some people will give their dog a corn cob to chew for recreation. NO! This is so risky. So, now that fall is most definitely here, you might want to rethink your decorations. Also, it's a very good idea to carefully and safely dispose of all cobs from any corn roasts. These fresh, buttery ones are particularly tempting for a dog.

Here's the lucky boy, doing just fine after a touch and go few weeks last fall:

Whitegates A Touch Of Blue, C.D. (yes, he's a cryptic bi-blue).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Full House

Seven birds on 8 perches (where's Waldo?). All Goldfinches except the Chickadee who has flown in for his grab and fly. The Chickadees don't perch, they grab and go. This is the most birds I've seen on this feeder, as they tend to peck at each other, driving competition away. When it gets even close to this full, there is a line up waiting in the tree for a chance at the seed. The female Goldfinch in the foreground is poised for a peck at the Chickadee, but he's there and gone in a blink. The little Chickadees are still my favourite.

I'm getting so many species now at or under the feeders. Blue Jays, Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, Mourning Doves, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Sparrows of many types, Purple Finches (rare), Red-breasted nuthatches, White-breasted nuthatches, Black-eyed Juncos (the newest to show up). Even four wild turkeys under the feeder twice a day recently. I've been trying to get good pictures of all the different species. Some are very elusive.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! More than a long weekend. I am thankful for my family, my friends, my dogs, my health, where I was born and where I live.

Turkeys on alert on our front lawn last week. Not a bad shot for being taken through a window.

The turkeys have been moving through but are very wary and nervous. Hmmm...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One Day At A Time

You know that when you live with senior dogs, there is going to be heartbreak. Yet, I do love the seniors so much. A better stage than the puppy stage, to me. Familiar, broken-in, sensible, dignified, a bit set in their ways.

We've just received the very bad news that our Brooke has lymphoma. The vet has given her a week to two months or so. Brooke is three months shy of 12 years old and is not our oldest dog. We have 5 dogs that are 10 years old and over, and this is the first turn down this road that I knew was coming up, we've travelled here before. I've been dreading it.

For the time being, Brooke is comfortable and her quality of life is still very good. She still bugs me for her dinner and eats every scrap! As long as she is comfortable, we'll just continue to give her all the love and extra treats that we can. She is responding very well to the prednisone and we can only hope to give her more time than the vet's best guess. This is my first experience with this cancer, so I'm not sure what to expect.

The girls just recently, bi-black mom Netta with her daughters, the bi-blue littermates Holly and Brooke. Brooke is standing.

One of my favourite pictures of Brooke (on left), so affectionate and sweet as is her usual way. Always the good dog.

One foot in front of the other, one day at a time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Grandkids For Holly

I received pictures of the litter sired by Ch. Whitegates Paint Bi Numbers ("Jester"), who we co-own with Maureen Butler in Nova Scotia. These babies were co-bred by Maureen and Jill Nickerson-Smith. Jester is the bi-blue litter brother of our Ch. Whitegates Icy Hot ("Sizzle") and their dam is our Holly (Am./Can. Ch. Whitegates Tinsel Town) whose picture is permanently on my sidebar.

On the dam's side, these puppies go back to quite a few members of our older AOC line, so many of our favourites are in this pedigree! We had wanted to try combining these two families ourselves, but we waited too long and by the time we tried, it was too late.

I know Maureen was really, really looking for a blue male, she did get males in spades but all the puppies are tricolour. Such is the way it goes with AOC's, so many possible combinations, the chances of getting the sex and colour that you really want or need, and having that one be the best one, is so slim.

I was impressed by the consistency of the puppies, and how they look at 7 weeks. I know Maureen had a hard time making her choice among the males of which one she wanted to grow out, and I wish her lots of luck with him! Hopefully the female will find the right show home and we can follow her progress as well.

Male #1

Male #2, Maureen's pick

Male #2, Maureen's pick, in profile

Male #3

The female

Ch. Whitegates Paint Bi Numbers, co-owned by Maureen Butler and us, proud papa!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Birds of Prey and Oh Yes, the Horse Show

This Great Horned Owl wasn't in the show, as apparently she's not reliable to fly where she's supposed to fly. One of the guys had her and one had the Bald Eagle when we talked to them after the show. She wasn't overly pleased because they said she doesn't like the Eagle. She kept hissing at him but he just acted like she wasn't even there. I was really concentrating on getting pictures of the Bald Eagle so these of her aren't as good as his turned out.

In all Owls the sexes look the same but the females are bigger. The Owls also have unique feathers that are like down and not stiff like regular feathers, so they can fly completely silently. They also have feathered feet, with little short feathers that almost look like fur. She opened her mouth a few times and I was really surprised how big her mouth was! The beak looks small but the mouth is really large. She's sulking a bit in this picture and it shows!

The Red-Tailed Hawk. This is the only one of any of these birds I've actually seen "in the wild" but have never been able to get a decent picture.

Showing the rufous (red) tail for which he was named. It's only red on the top, not underneath.

Close up Red-Tailed Hawk. The hawks also have the eyebrow like the Eagle.

I loved this one, really pretty and so little for a bird of prey. This is an American Kestrel, and this one is a male, the females don't have the grey-blue markings on the wings. He's on the ball cap of someone in the audience.

The Kestrel's name is Andre, they named him after the wrestler "Andre the Giant". A real mouthpiece, he made more noise than all of the others put together and then some! I caught him with his little can-opener beak wide open.

The Barn Owl. A gentle looking heart-shaped face.

The Barn Owl from the side. This shows the beautiful colours and soft feathers, plus the extremely flat owl face in profile.

The Harris Hawk. Not native to this area, found more in the Southwest. The impression I got from their commentary was that it's quite trainable compared to some.

Harris Hawk close up. The shading eyebrow is there.

They also had a "dog show" (not bad, could have been better) and a reptile show, reptiles aren't really my thing, but it was interesting.

But the "real" show was supposed to be the horse show, I got just a "bit" hung up on the Birds of Prey!

This is the other side of the Grand Prix Ring at the Palgrave (Caledon) facility. My last post picture of this facility was looking to the left.

Just before the $100,000 World Cup Qualifier, they had a lead line "competition" with little kids led in on ponies. I just had to post the picture of this little guy. Who KNEW they made riding breeches so small!! And the little leather belt and boots and all, the collared shirt tucked into the sweater....and ... THE TONGUE...!! So cute!!!

The big event. This picture is of the Individual Gold Medal Winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Canada's Eric Lamaze, who lives here locally in Schomberg. Also a member of Canada's Silver medal winning Team at the same Games. His mount for this competition was Tempete v/h Lindehof (not his Olympic horse). Our house is about 3 kms from the far right side of the picture. A great way to spend an afternoon!