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Tales from the Bark Side - What Little Lena learned

DETROIT LAKES - Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail, where a ghostly gray sky hangs ominously above Rosswood and the prediction of foul weather seems to be coming to fruition where a relentless winter resides on this cold January day.

Yahoo weather says it is nine degrees below zero, with a wind chill of 26 miles per hour that makes it feel like 36 below zero. Remnants of a Christmas echo softly in my head, "Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is so delightful, We haven't got a place to go..." OK folks, sing along with me... Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" Now, do we feel better? I certainly do.

I have a two-part tale from Ann Heinis of Ottertail that is an entry for the "Logic vs. Instinct" contest. I didn't want to break up her terrific tale, but it is too long for this forum and I don'y like to alter my reader's stories if I can help it. So, here is a tale about a pretty bright cat... "Little Lena."

Four years ago, in October, our family was blessed by the addition of a tiny, four-week-old, black, short-haired female kitten who had been rescued from the "dump" area at the Perham incinerator. We named her Lena. She was "welcomed" home by her big brother -- a huge black and white long-haired cat named Lars. Lena's feral mother had died and Lena needed bottle-feeding. Needless to say, Lena and I became very close.

Other family members came to love Lena as well. In addition to my husband and our cat Lars, our son and his wife had just moved in with us while transitioning between college and grad school. With our son and his wife came their pets -- a rabbit, a mud turtle and a python named Monty. Our daughter-in-law fell in love with Little Lena. But then our daughter-in-law loves animals so much that one rabbit wasn't enough -- she brought home a beautiful lop-eared rabbit whom she named "Puppy." Puppy the rabbit and Lena the cat were the same age, and they loved to play together -- they would play chase and cuddle and were the best of friends.

A fun filled winter progressed into spring, and it was time for my husband and I to make our annual move to the cottage.

The cottage is on Otter Tail Lake, just three miles down County Road 1 from our house -- the petting zoo at home wasn't far away, so Little Lena could visit her friends whenever she wanted. At the cottage there were new friends to make -- other rabbits. Instinctively Lena should have looked on them as "food," but logic told her they should be "friends" -- it was confusing to her when they ran away.

All she did was walk up -- not stalk up -- and they ran away! How frustrating! Lena had fun at the lake anyway -- exploring the woods behind the cottage, walking out on the dock to keep me company while I read a book, snuggling in the hammock, hanging out with big brother Lars on the patio and, of course, teasing the golden retrievers who lived next door.

As seasons do, spring turned into summer, and it was time for our son, his wife and their menagerie to move to Pennsylvania, where graduate school beckoned. Being the serious parents that we are, my husband and I offered to help move their belongings across country -- we had the towing package on our vehicle. I was to be gone two weeks and had enlisted the help of my sister to cottage -- and cat -- sit.

Lars was used to this routine, and always enjoyed his Aunt Jo-Jo's long term visits because she brought along her two large dogs, which meant she brought treats! Lena, on the other hand, decided she didn't "do" dogs and took off for the woods behind the cottage.

Thanks, Ann, for a great tale and folks, stay tuned next week for the conclusion of "Little Lena". If you would like to enter the "Logic vs. Instinct" contest, you can do it three different ways.

You can e-mail me at or write to me at Keith Alan Ross, Richville MN 56576 or phone me (like a couple of people have so far) at 218-495-2195.

Tales from the Bark Side (the book)

You can buy a copy of Tales From The Bark Side (the book) at the Red Willow in Detroit Lakes' Washington Square Mall, or down the hill on Washington Avenue, at the intersection of Willow. Barb will be more than glad to help you find the book.

Until next time...