Sunday, April 25, 2010


Sugar (Ch. Whitegates Icing On The Cake) and I started our new adventure today with our first Tracking lesson!!

In trying to decide what I'd like to do that was different (for me) with one of the dogs, I had originally tried to get into a Canine CSI (Sniffer Dog) course, but the two times it was offered, I had something else on. Still very interested in doing something utilizing a dog's scenting abilities, I decided to try Tracking. I always loved Scent Discrimination in Utility obedience, because you had to learn to trust your dog, let go of "control" and really read your dog, which a lot of people find difficult. I am fascinated by the power of the canine nose, so Tracking was a natural choice of venue and game little Sugar the natural choice of dog!

We had signed up a few weeks ago, and I spent the time in the interim teaching her some basics like sit and down. What a willing little dog she is, I wish I had started things with her sooner! Oh well, we're started now and what fun we had!

We had homework before the lessons started so we arrived at the field all prepared, except for the cold and the wind! It just had to be the coldest day in a long time, my ears are still sore, but at least it didn't rain, it had been forecast to rain hard all morning, so we were very lucky there. This out-in-all weather for hours stuff is new to me so I need to do some shopping...! run from the car to the house clothes won't cut it.

Anyway, I was jaw dropping surprised how well Sugar did!! She put her head right down and you could actually hear her sniffing, I was amazed and so pleased with her! I still have a big smile on my face. I really think this is something we are both going to enjoy!

The pictures below are of her second track ever, in the quite scrubby field just next door here at home. The bottom picture shows the more pristine field we had our first lesson (and first track) in.

Putting on her harness prior to starting the short, straight track. The article is beyond the second flag. The flags aren't as close together as they look in the picture. Our instructor wants the harness going on just before working and off right after. So the harness means "working".

She was off right away as soon as we stepped up to the line!

For the first few tracks, we are told to just gently hold onto the harness but the dog must be moving forward. Can you see my smile? She was just so good!

Workin' it!

Getting closer. I love this little vest style harness.

She's found the article (a leather glove) and is indicating with a down. What a good girl!

This is a more advanced dog tracking in the field we were in this morning. A Bedlington Terrier with a delightful attitude who was obviously having a great time.

We will miss next week's lesson because of the CSSA National Specialty in Saskatoon where I will be headed to judge the Puppy and Veteran's Sweepstakes. We can easily make up classes in this course though, so that's a big help!

I'm anxious to get out there again tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The little Downy Woodpecker nest hole is all done. Could it be any more perfectly round if she had used a drill bit? I think not!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another Nester

An excavation is going on for a nest, this time it's the Downy Woodpecker. The smallest Woodpecker and oh-so-cute, I caught this picture of her resting on a branch.

And one of her busily excavating a perfectly round nest in a half dead Maple tree:

We have lots of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers around, I caught this male Hairy in the picture below at a feeder. The Downy is about half the size, but if it's still hard to tell without a side-by-side comparison, check out the much larger beak on the Hairy below compared to the Downy in the first picture above.

I am hoping to see Woodpecker babies around here this Spring/Summer!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Way We Were

Cleaning out a closet I found a package of pictures, mostly of our "new" house that we hadn't moved into yet (this one) and this picture from the 1998 CSSA National Specialty held in Toronto. Memories came flooding back! The picture is of myself and Terry in the Specials ring, I am showing Ch. Whitegates Danielle Steel (the dog that's in my banner picture) and Terry is showing Dani's dam, Ch. Whitegates Deja Vu ("Bunny"). I know this was the only time these two girls were in the ring together. Debbie Moore of Fairfax is behind us. In the background I can make out Grant Fancey, Liz Herron, Jill Nickerson-Smith and ... yes, that's Kim Schive in the front. I thought it looked like her, checked the catalogue and she had entries, so I'm thinking it is. I would love to hear from anyone who recognizes anyone else, I know the picture is small, clicking on it will make it bigger.

We were quite involved with that National (especially Terry) and what a whirlwind time that was for us. We had sold our house and bought this one, we were moving the month following the National. Our friends Jack and Sue (they must have been the ones who took this picture) were doing the grounds and equipment, so of course we helped a lot with that, including all the set up and pull down of the show. Before the actual show even started, I couldn't figure out why all my toes were so sore, then I realized it was from kicking out the rolls and rolls of plastic that had to cover the entire ballroom floor and up the walls, and then the rolls of mats on top of it! I was Secretary of CSSA so also had to attend the meetings and of course take the minutes. Every day of the four days of the show we picked up Joan who was wheelchair bound at that time, brought her to the show and dropped her off again afterwards. The club ran out of the paper used for the x-pens but since we were packing to move, we brought all that we had on hand and managed enough to finish out the week! We both worked full time at that time plus we had dogs to prepare and show that week ourselves. It was hairy but fun! I sure don't have that kind of drive and energy anymore!

This was the biggest CSSA National ever and probably will always be. The after-show party for the committee was held at our house, once we moved. What a great job everyone did!

The next CSSA National is fast approaching and more memories will be made. It's funny the things that stick in your mind about these events, and often it doesn't even have anything to do with what happened in the ring!

ADDENDUM: Further identifications, we have Shawn Ramey and Carol Williams seated in the foreground, and Kim Aston and Rachel Pratt just beyond the doorway. Will add more if anyone is sure of any others.

FURTHER ADDENDUM: Karin Stever is the first person seated on the far left, just behind my back, in the taupe sweater. Then Carol Williams beside her, then Liz Herron.

Friday, April 16, 2010

And So It Begins

We have a pair of Robins who have already built their nest, and as of today, have even laid one egg. A couple of weeks earlier than usual, but with the very early warm Spring we've been having, not surprising. I watched her gather dead grasses from the tree grove and also wet leaves and mud for the bowl of the nest from some water on the flat portion of our roof. They chose to make a nest in the small cedar tree right in front of the kennel, beside the path we use many times a day and right beside the dogs. Easily seen from our living room window and also from the window of the kennel.

On the roof of our living room.

Right in the middle of everything, the nest is in the upper third of this cedar, right hand side, in front of the kennel. Hi Mason!

A pair of Robins had built a nest in the same cedar a few years ago, but it failed because it wasn't secured well heavy rain storm, the nest tumbled and all the babies died. In nature, one minor but critical mistake and all is lost. Harsh but effective.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Saying Goodbye To A Grand Lady

We heard the sad news that "Kayla" - Am./Can. Ch. Calabar Design Classic, CGN, passed away on April 9, 2010, at the age of 18 years, 10 months. Last year on Kayla's 18th birthday I wrote a post about her and her relatives here.

Kayla is pictured at 18 years of age with her owner Jane Davies. Bred by me.

Kayla was the dam of Ch. FairIsle Whitegates Wish and O.T. Ch. FairIsle Platinum Filigree U.D.X., CGC, TDI from her only litter, sired by Am./Can. Ch. Tambay Rainbow Warrior.

I know Jane and her family miss Kayla very much. Jane's 22 year old daughter doesn't remember a world without Kayla in it. After almost two decades of companionship, she is going to be missed! But, it's hard to think of a better (or longer!) life than this dog had. I thank Jane for that and I know Kayla would too.

Am./Can. Ch. Calabar Design Classic, CGN - "Kayla"
BISS Am./Can. Ch. Bare Cove Keep On Tri-N U.D., Can. C.D.X. ex BIS/BISS Am./Can. Ch. Whitegates Only Make Believe
June 10, 1991 - April 9, 2010

Rest Well

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Skateboarding Shelties

I wrote recently about Lori Leslie's talented Whitegates girls here and also here. Lori sent me a short video of her training Jovi (tri) to use the skateboard. Then, Lacie (blue) gets a bit fed up with watching all the beginner stuff and decides to head out for a skate on her own.

Go girls!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A New Look and Thank You!

I've been tired of the look of my blog for a while, so when Blogger recently came out with some new templates, I decided to try one. After a bit of playing around, I was pretty happy with the fresher, more streamlined look!

I got an e-mail from fellow blogger Pennylynn Woodruff of Ruffleith Shelties and Ruff 'N Designs, complimenting me on the fresh new look...AND offering to make a banner for my blog!! How nice is that? Thank you so much Penny for making the new banner for me! I love it! I've seen Penny's work around the web and have been very impressed with it, as well as the fabulous work she has done for CSSA and other clubs. All I hear is raves from everyone! And no wonder, her work is wonderful.

Penny's generosity came at a time when I was feeling pretty down about dog people in general, so you just never know how much of a difference a kindness can make, nor how well timed such a kindness can be! This was one of those times for sure. Thanks Penny, you more than made my day! (And you sure made my blog look great!).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

What a beautiful Easter weekend we had, more like late spring than early spring. Love was definitely in the air. I caught this guy strutting around on our front lawn in front of the girls. I must say he was very impressive.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

14 Candles

We are celebrating Netta's 14th birthday today. Time has gone by so quickly. This picture was taken when she was 13 months old by Chris Lynch at the '97 Chicago National. We had only had her for a few months at that time, and were so excited about her potential. Netta is Ch. Shadypines Viennetta and I wrote in detail about her here.

Netta's had a bit of a rough time lately so I want to think of the young Netta for today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dominican Fauna

I didn't see nearly as many dogs around as on our last trip to the Dominican Republic, and the ones I did see were in pretty good shape. Maybe Vets Without Borders or some such organization is having some success here with their care and neuter programs. There were more cats than I remember seeing previously.

But, I did see some unusual birds, two kinds of which are endemic to the Island of Hispaniola, which is comprised of the two countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The pictures I managed to get were not the best and if I had lots of opportunity, I would probably have waited for better ones, but these are what I got.

Antillean Mango Hummingbird

Bananaquit. These little birds (Chickadee size) were quite prevalent and were in the process of nest building, as I got a few shots of them with long wisps of plant bits in their beaks. They are quite loud.

An Hispaniolan Woodpecker. These are endemic to Hispaniola. They are the same size as our Hairy Woodpeckers. They have yellow and black barred wings and their bodies (yellowish cast) and heads are quite a deep grey. Their eyes are bright yellow. This one was eating insects from a palm that was perfect for a Woodpecker with all the crevices.

This one was building a nest (excavating a hole) in a tall coconut palm outside of our room. I thought it strange at the time that a male (red on head) would be making the nest but later found out that in this species the male has red from the beak all the way back and the female has red just on the back of the head. So all of these pictures are of females.

The same female as above. The first picture was also a female, taken on a different day in a different location. Click on any photo for a full screen view.

This bird was quite big and was rooting around the trees. I thought it almost seemed to be looking for geckos. When I got home, I found out it was an Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo. Seriously! Also endemic to Hispaniola. Grey and orange with a very long spotted tail, very red rimmed, downward facing eyes, and loud! A really weird bird.


Close up of the head of the Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo. I thought when I saw the downward facing eyes it might be a fish eater, but I guess lizards require similar foraging abilities.

Food to the guy above, I like watching geckos. Not a reptile fan, but I do like these.

Pretty good camouflage.