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Tales From the Bark Side Column: The great muffin hunter

Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail, where a couple Canadian geese came flapping by yesterday, looking forlornly to the north and turning south...

I could almost make out what the lead goose was crying out as they flew past me. It sounded like, "turn left, turn left, turn left." That might explain why they were still here crisscrossing the sky like two lost tourists in Rome. Go figure! They may be working on the logic side of the instinct equation, for surely the neighboring fowl from Manitoba could find a rather large country to their immediate north. I think left is south.

This week, I have a tale from one of our "snowbirds" (I'm secretly jealous of their warm winter as compared to our miserable marathon this year) that fits right in with the "Logic vs. Instinct" contest. Alice B. Riley of Ottertail tells a tale about a red wonder named "Sandy." But I'll let Alice tell it herself...


I'm a seasonal resident of Ottertail, Minn., and I enjoyed reading your column in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal of Saturday, April 28.

My husband Joe (now deceased) and I lived in Stony County, Iowa during years that our three children grew up. We wanted them to experience the joys and responsibility that be theirs with a dog. Joe learned of the Vizsla as an ideal family pet and we acquired "Sandy Riley" when our younger son was three.

Joe enjoyed hunting for pheasants and Sandy was a good bird dog. The time that our daughter and older son were invited to join the hunting party, Sandy seemed to expect little success from them. Joe was walking without a gun in hand, while each of the young hunters was armed. I was told that Sandy would lag behind the hunting party and sit down, waiting for Joe to "get-it-right"!

When our youngest was five years old, we moved to Story City, Iowa, a Norwegian heritage community. Our Hungarian Vizsla was happy to make the move. Usually she was content to stay at home with her kennel, large yard, and good food. But... there was one afternoon when she went on a "culinary adventure" somewhere (but we knew not where).

Joe had been working in the yard, and Sandy was out in the yard with him. When he called her to come over, Sandy came running to him and presented him with an unwrapped package of English muffins. Sandy seemed to be quite pleased with herself -- but Joe wasn't. After taking Sandy to her kennel, Joe called around the neighborhood, but nobody recognized the missing muffins.

Sandy was "in the dog house" until the next day, when Joe let her out with close observation.

Sandy seemed to want to show her appreciation by presenting him with another "gift." She trotted over to the edge of the yard and ran back to him, proudly carrying another package of unopened English muffins. We never did learn where she found them, but that was the last time she went shopping alone!

Now that our family has grown and carried with them the memory of Sandy, maybe some day one of them will hope to own a Vizsla of their own. Thank you for the story of the free thinker Luke. Your friend in Ottertail, Alice B. Riley.


Thanks a lot for your trip down memory lane and a pretty smart dog that not only can shop for muffins but knows who the experienced hunters are. I'd say there was a whole lot of logic going on there.

Folks, if you have a tale that depicts logic or instinctual behavior in a pet of yours or an encounter with a undomesticated creature, e-mail me at or write to me at Keith Alan Ross, Richville MN 56576 or you can call me, if you like, at 218-495-2195. The "Logic vs. Instinct" contest will going all summer so get your entry in soon. That does it for this week. Until next time...