Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Nov. 26, 2001

Memories of our dog caught in barbed wire


We returned to South Dakota during Thanksgiving to celebrate the holidays, and it brought back some memories of the time we lived there.

Although my husband and I are both originally from Central Minnesota, we spent about four years in SoDak living on a cozy acreage near Clear Lake. It's right near the Minnesota-SoDak border, between Brookings and Watertown, if you happen to know the area.

My first recollection is of this *&^%$#@ dog that we owned for years while living there.

She was a cross between a German shepherd and a border collie - two extremely intelligent dogs - but unfortunately, all her brains were bred out and we ended up with this country dog named Carrit.

She was a slave to none. A dog's dog. She had life by the tail, and the moon by a string.

Daah! That dog drove me crazy, but our children loved her so much.

She chased pickup trucks, even though her sister, Budget, met her demise under one of them (I always said it was poetic justice this happened because of our finances at the time).

She regularly took apart our burning barrel of garbage and strew it about the yard. She was naughty most of the time.

She howled mercilessly when she was chained up. At one time, we thought she ran off with the coyotes; which would make us very unpopular with the local farmers if this occurred (it didn't).

So, we (I) had this dog.

One cold February evening, I heard her sharp cries outside and knew something was wrong.

Every mother knows this sound; when a child or animal makes it, we drop everything.

I ran outside in my socks in 20 below weather, trying to find her with a flashlight. I thought she had gotten bitten by a skunk.

After a few minutes of searching in the dark, I could see a figure perched atop the barbed wire fence of our small pasture - there she was, with her leg hopelessly wound up in the top wire.

I could see her leg had gotten wound too firmly in it, and raced in the house to grab a pliers to wrest her loose.

I clipped loose her leg and carried the hapless animal indoors, laying her at the entryway.

Luckily, she hadn't broken anything, and healed just fine. She still has a dark marking on her right hind leg to show where that barbed wire cut her up.

To this day, my best winter coat has five-year-old blood stains from when I rescued that dog.

"Well, maybe she isn't such a bad dog after all," I thought after that.

Eventually, after we moved to Dassel, we had to give her away because she was a country dog and liked to run around.

Today, she lives like a queen, six miles south of Dassel. Our children visit her regularly.

The wailing wind

Another thing that reminds me of South Dakota is the sound of the wailing wind.

SoDak is very flat, rolling, prairie land, and treeless. This makes it lonely and beautiful, with its multi-colored country grasses and hilly landscape.

But that north wind will cut you down in half time.

I understand that early pioneer women used to actually go mad from hearing the sound of the wind (this could be a story, though! Good thing this is on the Viewpoints page, and it's my opinion!).

These women would be home during the day, and the sound of wind ripping through the cracks of the sod houses made an incessant wailing noise, which made some of them actually lose their minds.

I thought about that once in a while. Thank goodness we had good insulation, and our house was airtight.

We could also hear the coyotes at night.

The great white polar bear emerges

I pulled out my white winter coat this week, which I think makes me look like a polar bear.

Before now, I delayed taking it out because I thought it would only invite more snow, or be an endorsement of what is to come.

When my husband bought it for me, he said "WHY do you want a white coat - you have two kids and a newspaper!" I wanted it anyway.

The dry cleaning bill is worth it.

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