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'The Bone Wars'

Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail, where another majestic morning has graced us with its arrival; a sunrise rich and golden with shades of hope written across an azure sky.

January has blown in on the winds of change, and brisk days are promised for the duration of winter. The temperatures outside may have plummeted, but a warm crackling fire in the wood stove makes for a cozy home.

This week I'm torn between two tales; the first one being relative to our rescue dog going to the vet and being spayed. The tale I will tell some other time occurred 40 years ago in California while I worked for a veterinarian while attending college. The second choice is the one I'm going to choose. The vet story can wait until another day.

I have written about the matriarch of our kennels several times before. This week we'll learn about the rest of the clan. This week's tale is titled "Bone Wars."

Lara Mee (the 120 pound female German Shepherd) has a stash of knucklebones scattered in her wooden kennel. The two younger shepherds have connived in the past to steal her bones with creative cunning and guile. Toby and Cora are kenneled outside these days (in straw filled kennels which they just adore), and Laredo and Heidi share the garage space; content in their own kennels. Laredo is the alpha male and pretty much gets his own way on almost everything. Heidi and her sister Bertha have been recently bred and they reside in the garage as well.

When we let Nikki (the rescue Shih Tsu) outside to do her business, the other dogs in the garage loquaciously communicate their presence by a volley of loud barking. After the diminutive darling goes back inside to "her side" of the house, I let the older residents out to "do their thing." This is when the bone wars begin. Laredo will go into Lara Mee's kennel and retrieve a bone for himself; conveniently forgetting he already has a bone of his own sitting in plain sight in his own kennel. Heidi will slip into his domicile and purloin the awaiting knucklebone.

When and if Bertha is about (I separate the two females when they are in heat or expecting a litter in the near future) she will sniff her way around the garage until she finds a bone or a treat that Lara Mee has semi-buried in a corner somewhere. She will prance about the garage or outside with her newly found booty, evoking the attention of Laredo. It's at this time he drops whatever he is carrying or has stashed and chases after his daughter, who has something he so dearly wants.

If you are paying close attention, you can guess the next act of aggression in this three-act play. Yep, you got it. Lara Mee will go around and re-collect "her bones" from whoever is chasing whom. This could go on for hours if I let it continue. The outside temperatures pretty much regulate the time the canines continue their "winter games." If the youngsters get involved, then it becomes a game of "keep away" with the bones, and who knows what they'll find to entertain themselves.

After all is said and done, and all doggies are back in their cozy kennels, Lara Mee will have at least two to three bones in her kennel. Laredo will have a bone acquired from somewhere. Heidi and Bertha may not have a bone for them selves, but they will have found a biscuit treat of their very own.

Rosswood is a busy place in the winter, and that much more so in the summer. The barking at travelers on the road has diminished somewhat, but the choir can always find something to bay about, be it the deer, coyotes, or the presence of a small invader intruding into their canine community.

Someday, our newly adopted Nikki will meet Lara Mee and Laredo nose to nose. Until that time, she will continue to be on one side of the house while a quiet war rages on beyond the walls of her domain.

Bone Wars is a way of life here at Rosswood. There is never a dull moment here on the bark side of life.

Do you have a tale to tell? "The weirdest thing my pet has done is..." contest up and running, and it promises to be a doozy this year. E-mail me your entries at or write to me at Keith Alan Ross, Richville MN 56576 or phone me your tale at 218-495-2195. That does it for this week. Until next time...