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Tales From the Bark Side column: The further adventures of Little Lena the cat

Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail, where a dusting of cool white velvet still lies softly on our driveway. It glistens in the early morning sun like a blanket of sparkling jewels, proclaiming the day to be a gem. It has warmed up a few precious degrees and being outside isn't as painful as it was last week during our sub zero onslaught.

This week, we have part two of Ann Heinis's tale about a cat named Lena (what an odd name for a Minnesota cat). Let's get caught up with last week's ordeal and see what Lena is doing, taking up the tale from where we left off...

As seasons do, spring turned into summer and it was time for our son, his wife and their menagerie to move to Pennsylvania where grad 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...

Upon arrival in Pennsylvania, I called my sister to see how Lena was doing. My sister was pretty upset because the little rascal hadn't returned to the cottage -- she called and called her, even rattled the "treat" bag, but no Lena. I had to do what any self-respecting "mom" would do, and told my sister to take her phone out back by the woods so I could "call" Lena in. Sure enough --after just a few just "Leeee-naaaa's" over the cell phone, Lena followed my sister into the cottage. I was able to call her in from Pennsylvania! Lena recognized my voice from across the country! Lena had her lunch, then took one look at the D-O-G-S and took off -- back to the woods. Instinct would have told her to stay where the food and companionship were, but logic told her that "mom" wasn't there -- so she wasn't going to be there either.

Meanwhile, my husband left for the return trip to Minnesota, and I stayed in Pennsylvania for an additional week to help the "kids" get settled -- per their suggestion. I called my beloved after a few days, and he told me that even after Aunt Jo-Jo and her entourage left, Lena did not come home.

After a week passed, the "kids" were settled and it was time for me to fly home. I "hitched" a ride with my lake neighbors from the Twin Cities to the cottage. We all had come to terms with the fact Lena was probably lost. Upon arriving at the cottage, I bounded out of my neighbors' SUV -- along with the aforementioned golden retrievers -- gave my beloved husband a big hug and kiss and then started calling Lena. Wouldn't you know it, in spite of the two big dogs next to me, here came Lena -- out of the woods and into my arms! It seemed she felt it logical that "mom" would protect her from the big dogs.

Needless to say, whenever we go on a trip in the summer, Little Lena and her brother Lars stay three miles away at "the house" and in "the house" with a neighbor checking in on them daily -- no more expeditions into the woods behind the cottage! Interestingly enough it seems that every time the "dreaded" suitcase comes out, Lena crawls inside or sits on top -- she has applied logic and knows what suitcases are all about.

Thanks, Ann, for a great two-part tale. Cats and dogs live life mostly on their terms, and only out of convenience do they endure the boundaries and rules we humans place upon them. I think cats do this more than dogs though. Send in your tale and make your case for "Logic vs. Instinct" in our contest by reaching me in one of three ways. You can e-mail me at or send a letter to Keith Alan Ross, Richville MN 56576, or phone me at 218-495-2195.

I will be appearing at the Lake Region Hospital this Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the Kiwanis' "Risers" program. Feel free to show up at 6:45 a.m. But if that's a bit early for you, I'll be signing books at the Home and Trade show in Perham on Feb. 23-24.

Until next time...