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Column: A dog goes hunting for turtles


Special to the Daily Globe

By Howard Lindquist, Special to the Daily Globe

Author’s note: I think this must be my favorite story for three reasons. First, it’s as good a writing as I have done, both of my parents are involved and the time is early summer.

HERON LAKE — Sometimes when I visit my mother, she has been looking at old pictures. After I am let in at such times, she will begin talking about the pictures, which ones should be thrown away, and how they take up so much room.

Then she will show me one picture, and tell me about it, as if it were the first time, and that she had not explained it to me several other times.

It is a picture of my dad sitting with his back against a haystack. He is a young man in the picture, and it seems somewhat strange to think that I am so much older now than he was then.

He and my mother’s cousin, Carl Sjogren, have been haying. The time is June in the early ’30s. There is also a dog in the picture — not a watch dog, just a kind of good-for-not-much-of-anything dog, but a playful, friendly dog.

She remembers the picture very well because of an incident involving the dog.

To the left of the haystack, the field drops steeply to a slough that is, of course, not in the picture. The dog, while wandering around as dogs will do, had discovered some baby turtles at the slough’s edge.

It picked one up in its mouth and carried it up the hill to the men who were sitting against the haystack eating an afternoon lunch. The dog dropped the turtle at their feet, then turned around and went back to the slough for another turtle. When it returned to the top of the hill again, it had another turtle in its mouth, which it also dropped at the feet of the men. Again, it went after another turtle. It is not remembered just how many turtles there were there, but after the turtles were dropped on the ground, out of instinct or something, they began crawling back to the slough.

It wasn’t too long before the dog, with a turtle in its mouth on the way back up the hill, would meet another turtle crawling back down the hill, then another, and another. The dog was confused and several times would drop a turtle it had just gotten from the slough, and pick up a returning turtle and take it back to the men.

Maybe there were a half dozen turtles, maybe a dozen. Whatever the number, there were enough turtles to confuse the dog, and most memorably, to provide some entertainment for those who watched.

My mother had taken an afternoon lunch to the men haying and also a camera that time. She snapped a picture of my dad sitting against the haystack eating an afternoon lunch.

It must have been a happy time, for when she looks at the picture and explains it to me again, she laughs softly, and for a moment, does not look as old as usual.

Howard Lindquist lives at Lakeview Assisted Living in Heron Lake and grew up in Douglas County.