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Tales from the Bark Side column: Saying hello to Troubles

Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail where another gray morning greets the day, erasing the memory of a warm and glorious afternoon just days ago. The ebb and flow of springtime weather is like the ocean; beyond our comprehension and control.

Speaking of flowing, last Sunday afternoon, I observed a curious sight that took place on the Otter Tail River just as it empties (flows) into Ottertail Lake. A Great Blue Heron was sitting precariously on a rock next to the mouth of the lake; sitting in a boat, no more than fifteen feet from the magnificent bird, were two fishermen.

The heron evidently didn't mind sharing his fishing spot with two humans, and the men in the boat were statue still in their pursuit of a fish themselves. I call it common water, co-existence in silent splendor.

This week we have the start of another two-part tale, and this one is from Lynn Mathewson of New York Mills. When you name a cat "Trouble," that's enough to get most people's attention. Here's Lynn's tale.


Hi Keith,

I have sent you a story about our cat Radar, who likes to steal things and I sent you a picture of Radar and Troubles on a ladder (in which you dubbed them the flying Mathewsons). But this is a story of Troubles. I am sure you may find some instinct as well as logic in his story. The reason I wanted to share this with you and the readers is because we lost Troubles to cancer this last week. He was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of cancer last summer in June.

When Kenny got Troubles almost 11 years ago, he was so small he fit into Kenny's shirt pocket. Kenny fed him every few hours with an eyedropper full of milk. He always was a smart cat and of course mischievous, hence the name. He would play with and in a paper bag, until Kenny discovered him using it as a litter box. Then it was taken away from him. He unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper one time.

This is the part that I think may be logic. He watched Kenny open the door to go outside often enough, that he would walk over to the door and stand on his hind legs pawing at the door trying to open it. He also learned the sound of Kenny's truck and would be waiting by the door when he came up the stairs. Kenny put a choker and leash on Troubles and would take him for a walk around the block. All you had to do was tug on the leash and say "This way Troubles" and he would walk with you. He loved being outside. He was declawed and still could climb 5 feet up into a tree. He caught several squirrels, rabbits and even a bird; all while on a rope tied to a stake.

When Kenny and I got married almost 5 years ago. I knew I was getting a loving husband and a cat. I had a cat myself at that time named Cleo. Both cats being male, even though neutered, could not get along. Cleo spent all of his time outside and came in for the occasional petting and of course food. Troubles would chase him from room to room growling, hissing and trying to hit him until Cleo would go to the door to be let out. He finally stopped coming back.

As a result of the cat problems, Troubles decided he didn't like me. He would growl and hiss at me. And if I got too close he would swat at my ankles with his paw. I let this go on for awhile and than decided he was not going to terrorize me. So one day I squatted down in front of him and as he was growling at me, I told him, "Go ahead make my day." He looked at me and turned around and walked away. We were friends after that. He would sit on my lap and tolerated all of my kisses and hugs.


Thanks, Lynn, for a glimpse into the life of a cat lover. Next week, we will have the conclusion of "Troubles & Radar." If you have a tale that you would like to contribute to the "Logic vs. Instinct" contest, mail me at Keith Alan Ross, Richville MN 56576, e-mail me at or phone me at 218-495-2195. That does it for this week. Until next time...