Category: Animals (not cats)

Animal Friends

By , December 19, 2020 2:42 pm

Just sharing some of my best animal buddies.

He’s sinking.
She’s so shy.
Fergus (now retired)
Queenie – I don’t know when I’ll see her again but she has been an amazing girl ALL these years
KC – a sweet, loyal boy who deserves a good retirement
With KC and Will (who is hopefully not going away)
Robin is tired and ready for retirement. I will love her forever.

Smile for the camera, Robin.
Yukon – still going strong with one eye

Giraffe Time

By , September 24, 2019 9:03 pm

We all know I love giraffes. So does this woman: Dr. Anne Innis Dagg was the world’s first giraffe biologist. She studied giraffes in the wild before Jane Goodall studied chimps in the wild.

I just read an article about her in Canadian Geographic and found her to be an amazing person, scientist and conservationist. Val tried to get us tickets to see the movie about her, The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, but they were rightly sold out.

Our beloved giraffes are at-risk. We should all care.

And look who she has at her home!–the-woman-who-loves-giraffes-at-princess-cinema-nov-27-to-dec-2/


Haute Goat

By , February 17, 2019 8:30 pm

For a belated birthday present (and, is it turns out, an early 13th anniversary present), Val took me to Haute Goat near our cottage!

The visit began with the goats going for a walk and munching on cedar trees while the 15 or so humans watched and took pictures.

At one point they got a bit far ahead of us so the owner had us call them back. And back they came.

After this the goats led us back into their play area where we got more up close and personal with them.

The 250-acre farm also has horses – a few Icelandic ponies included.

A beautiful mane and tail. Well insulated, too!

This lad, Yoda, was one of the highlights of the visit. He was very sweet.

Thanks Val for such an awesome treat! I can’t wait to visit the goats again.

Can you spot him?

By , January 27, 2019 1:02 pm

Photos courtesy of Val Dodge

From the dining room window at our cottage Val spotted this Common (or Eastern) Screech Owl. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do: sleeping against a tree trunk. Poor little guy; it’s super cold and blowing snow.

I have never seen an owl live in the wild before, though, like most people, I hear them often. This is very exciting.

Horses of 2018

By , January 1, 2019 1:56 pm

In the spirit of end-of-the-year lists of things we should remember, here’s my biggest.


I still can’t bring myself to write too much about the fire and the death of the 16 horses below. Let’s just say when I close my eyes I often see fire. And since I have only ridden twice since the fire in May, I miss riding and I miss the 13 beautiful horses who did survive. I have the utmost respect for school horses with all they have to put up with, including innumerable children and poor riders. It’s an immense sadness that all of these solid horses met their end in this tragic way.


Here are a few short recollections about some of the Sunnybrook horses lost to us now.

(photos from and the Sunnybrook Stable site)

Sugar – one of my favourite horses, though I often didn’t want to ride her because of her horribly uncomfortable saddle. She could be really cantankerous but she could also provide a very lovely frame if you treated her mouth with gentle caution. For entertainment, her kick-outs during cantering weren’t to be missed! She was graying and slowing down but still very reliable.

Christmas, 2017.

Misty – another of my favourites. We had some really nice rides during which she showed she was quite capable. Lovely little pony-like canter. She could even hold a frame in the canter, something most school horses couldn’t do. I always called her Misty May after the volleyball player.


SutherlandSudsy. This old man was the first horse I ever rode at Sunnybrook for my assessment way back in 2005 (or so). I didn’t ride him too much after that. When I rode Charlie consistently a few years ago, Sutherland would make a bee-line for him and try to ram into him. Very entertaining. Everyone knew Sudsy was the boss at Sunnybrook.

Marty – this epitome of a mare was one of the horses I rode most during my early years at Sunnybrook. My first private lesson with my “mean” instructor was on her. That’s when I got a hump in my back from trying to put her on the bit for a solid hour. Still years later I didn’t know anyone who could, not even Julie. Marty had a lot of spunk and bile! But she had an excellent temperament while being ridden. She had the equivalent of a corner office in the barn!

Sandy – she lived at Sunnybrook a long, long time ago when I first started riding there. She was old then. I rode her quite a bit. She was probably the first horse that I could regularly put on the bit, but it was more of a show on her part than actual submission. One thing I do remember is she’s the first and only horse I ever rode in a dressage saddle. One really cold winter lesson it was only me and the “mean” instructor. She let me have a go in her dressage saddle. Sandy just cantered round and round because she had so much pent up energy from not having any turnout. When Sandy returned to Sunnybrook about a year ago it was a shock. She was still old but still going.

Beau – like everyone who rode him, what I remember most is his rocking-horse canter. He was a lot younger when I rode him. He had aged a lot but he was very trustworthy. We saw a lot of beginners riding him and a lot of instructors giving him his verbal commands to get going!

Tess – Tess was an enviable ride when she first came to Sunnybrook as she was quite capable. I didn’t ride her much over the ensuing years but I always enjoyed visiting her as she was Misty’s next door neighbour. I thought Tess had a beautiful face.


Mr. T – it amazes me that I never rode Mr. T, the denizen of Sunnybrook, over the years. I came close – I was slated to ride him once but a thunderstorm meant it never happened. Julie just loved Mr. T! He was old and slow but a really trustworthy epitome of a school horse. As the last horse in the main aisle he had a lot of friends! Anytime the horses broke out of the paddock Mr. T was usually responsible – smarty pants knew how to open the latch.


One last thing I want to mention is the horses who lived in the main barn who had moved on to greener (supposedly) pastures over the years and thus didn’t have to die in the horrible fire: George was one of my first loves at Sunnybrook, and Skye (the older, smaller one) was my solid, if extremely fickle, companion over many years.

One day we will come back and reclaim this beautiful piece of Toronto and remember them all forever.



Anakin the Hawk

By , August 3, 2018 6:56 pm

On our way from Victoria to Nanaimo we had a planned stop at Pacific Northwest Raptors.

We had an interactive flying demonstration from a kestrel, a hawk, a falcon, an eagle, a turkey vulture, and an owl. The human, Selena, was very informative. After, we went on a hawk-walk with Anakin the Harris’ hawk.

We really needed a telephoto lens but we did the best we could. It was an excellent learning opportunity and a fun close-up with an amazing animal.

In Memory – Sunnybrook Stables

By , May 22, 2018 9:06 pm

I haven’t really had a chance to get my thoughts together about losing so many wonderful horses and the entire barn at Sunnybrook. I’ll have to write more about that later.

I am so grateful that there are 13 horses still remaining, among them the incredible horses that Julie and I ride: Skye, Rex and Daisy. We are both so relieved to say that Polka, Carmel, Yukon, Dante, Flight, Queenie, Huckleberry, Will, Georgia and Clyde are also alive!

Sugar is the horse that I have thought about the most; she has always been the “welcome” horse in the first stall – standing or box. My last ride on Sugar, some time in the winter, was wonderful. She was showing off her increasing and decreasing canter circles. Last Thursday I said hello and goodbye to Sugar, as I always do. She looked her usual serene self just standing there checking out the view. It can’t really have been the last time, can it?

Here’s a picture of Sugar from this past December.

Like all Sunnybrook horses, she served us well. Thank you, Sugar. We love you and we will miss you.

Good Friend

By , December 31, 2014 5:20 pm

An impending new year makes you reflect on the year gone by. I have been remiss in not honouring the end of a lovely friendship. The horse I rode most regularly over my years at Sunnybrook was retired this fall. She was a complicated, challenging horse, always trotting away with her head in the air and her will power at full blast. I will miss her.

Here are Skye and I after a ride in the summer.


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