Column: Pets are special friends to children and adults

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 28, 2008

In the past couple of weeks I have been &8220;dog sitting&8221; both of my boys&8217; family&8217;s housedogs. Spending time with their dogs has brought back some fond memories of when I was a kid and of some of the pets we had.

One winter night when I was pretty young we had a terrible blizzard and my mother thought she could hear a scratching noise and when she looked outside there was a dog at the door. She knew that she couldn&8217;t let that dog stay out in the blizzard so she let it in the house and we put it in the basement. Mom found some old rugs for it to sleep on and said we&8217;d try to find the owner in the morning. We never did find the owner and my dad figured someone had dumped her off in the country just to get rid of her.

When no one was found to claim her dad finally agreed she could stay. For lack of a better one we gave her the name of Poochie. She was a good dog but we never could figure out what kind of dog she was (Heinz 57). Part Norwegian elkhound was what I would tell people, but the rest was anybody&8217;s guess. I think I only used the elkhound name because it made her sound bigger and tougher than she really was. Maybe because I was told being a Norwegian was a good thing I wanted her to be one too. She wasn&8217;t fully grown, but was smart, had evidently been house broken and best of all, like a good friend she was always there for me.

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One of the things I remember most about her is when it was bedtime Mom and Dad would tuck me in and after the nighttime prayer I would ask if she could sleep with me. They always let her and after I would fall asleep she would sneak off the bed and head for her bed in the basement.

One night I feigned sleep just to see how she did it. She would tiptoe ever so lightly and kept glancing over her shoulder to make sure she didn&8217;t wake me. I opened my eyes before she got to the edge of the bed and she lay right down and acted like she was sleeping. I guess sleep came pretty easy when I knew that I had my friend there with me.

We had a few cats come and go during Poochie&8217;s reign as &8220;queen of the house.&8221; She was an easy-going dog and never paid much attention to a cat no matter what it did to antagonize her. Probably the only cat that I really liked was one we named Rhubarb. He was red striped with Angora-like hair.

After Poochie passed on there were other dogs, but I don&8217;t think any of them could ever hold a candle to that old mixed-breed mutt of a dog that came to us during that blizzard.

Another pet that comes to mind is the yellow lab named Cassie that my son and daughter-in-law had before my first grandson, Trevor was born. Trevor loved that dog and would spend hours playing with her in their yard. When she would need a break she would knock Trevor down and sit on him. He thought that was great and it became quite a game to both of them.

One day we received a call from Brian saying that Cassie had been hit by a car and would we take the kids while he took her to the vet. It was a lost cause and he returned home to bury her in their yard by the grove. When we brought the kids to the house they broke the news to Trevor, who was about 3 1/2 years old at the time. He took it really hard and as we sat in the kitchen talking I saw something I&8217;ll never forget. To this day I can still see his silhouette as he walked across the yard with his plastic shovel over his shoulder. We went out and asked him what he was going to do and he said he had to uncover her because he didn&8217;t get a chance to say goodbye.

Now when I watch the grandkids with their pets I can appreciate just how special a pet can be.

Black bear permit applications due May 2

Hunters have until May 2 to apply for a black bear license for the 2008 fall hunt. A total of 11,850 licenses in 11 permit areas are available, said Lou Cornicelli, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources big game program coordinator. The season begins Sept. 1 and ends Oct. 12. Licenses for the no-quota area, which is outside of the 11 permit areas, can be purchased directly at any ELS agent beginning July 1. No previous application is necessary to buy a no-quota area license.

Bear licenses cost $39 for residents and $196 for nonresidents. The bag limit will remain at two bears in the no-quota area and one bear in all quota permit areas.

Hunters who want to increase their chances to be selected in future years now can select bear area 99 on their application. They will not receive a permit but will earn a preference point, increasing their chances of being selected in future years.

Individuals must apply for a permit at one of the nearly 1,800 Electronic License System agents throughout the state or the DNR License Center in St. Paul. People may also apply by calling (888) MNLicense or online at &8220;;

In 2007, there were 16,345 applicants for the available 13,200 permit area licenses. Three of the 11 permit areas were under-subscribed, Cornicelli said. Hunters harvested a total of 3,172 bears, 2,625 in the permit areas and 547 in the no-quota area.

Open water not far away

On Wednesday my grandson Trevor and I were checking out the waterfowl on the open water in the channel. There were geese, mallards, mergansers, shovel bills, bluebills and a few coots with some seagulls thrown in for good measure. As the days roll on there should be plenty of waterfowl to check out in the channel. Trevor says that each day there will be a more and bigger variety of them arriving.

It won&8217;t be long until we can be fishing for panfish and perch in open water. I do know that I will be ready to limber up the arm and do a little open water fishing and I can hardly wait.

Until next time, take a little time to stop and enjoy the outdoors.

Remember to keep showing your support for the troops that are serving our country today.

Dick Herfindahl&8217;s outdoors column appears every Friday.