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Dog Days of Spring

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 8:52pm

Fearless in summer 2014

I know that it will be awhile before spring officially arrives. I’m guessing there will be a cold snap and a snowstorm or two before it completely warms up, but we were blessed with a wonderful weekend. The first weekend of March was the “Dog Days of Winter” celebration up the Gunflint Trail. Last weekend could well have been the “Dog Days of Spring” at my house.

My husband Chuck and I took advantage of the springlike day on Sunday and took a short walk up County Road 7 to County Road 13 in Grand Marais—known as either Olson Brothers Road, Lamson Farm Road, or Fall River Road—depending on what generation you’re from. It’s a short walk for our “puppy”—almost twoyear old heeler/border collie mix Trouble—but too long for our almost 14-year-old golden retriever Fearless.

So we took the puppy on the walk with us, which usually isn’t a problem. Old dog Fearless doesn’t pay too much attention to what Trouble is doing. He’s hard of hearing and doesn’t see well, so we can normally get the leash on Trouble and get out the door without him noticing. For some reason, that was not the case this day. When he saw us getting her pink leash, Fearless lumbered down the basement stairs and sat stubbornly in front of the door.

He really wanted to go for a walk, but we know that he can barely walk to the end of our driveway, much less the half mile or so to County Road 13, so I gave him a big hug and petted him and said, “Stay.”

I felt terrible making him stay home. He watched sadly out the glass door as we walked down the driveway with the hyper puppy. The walk with her was fun because she’s a bit like Tigger of Winnie-the-Pooh, springing along beside us with a doggy grin; sniffing furiously and chasing pebbles and bits of ice. She could have walked—bounced—for miles.

When we got home, Fearless was still awake and watching, so I decided to take him for a short walk. I headed back down the driveway with both dogs, with Fearless walking slowly, painstakingly placing his old paws, while Trouble bounced and danced and had to be reminded frequently to heel.

As we headed down hill on the driveway, Fearless actually jogged a bit, a happy golden retriever smile on his gray muzzle. When we got to the bottom of the driveway and went to turn around, Fearless resisted. I swear he looked longingly up County Road 7. Was he remembering the hundreds of walks we had taken with him since puppyhood?

Although he was huffing and puffing, I couldn’t refuse. We crossed the road as quickly as I could get him across and walked slowly up the road for a little while. I figured we’d go as far as our neighbor’s driveway and turn around, but then I remembered how Fearless likes to splash in the water by the big culvert at the curve in the road, so we went a little farther.

The culvert was still frozen and snow-covered, but both dogs enjoyed sniffing the spot. Fearless was a bit shaky getting through the ditch’s deep snow as we returned to the road, but his eyes were bright and he still wore a grizzled dog smile. But I figured that was enough of a walk.

We retraced our steps, with the puppy leading the way and the old dog plodding along, slowing the process even more with much sniffing and attempting to eat dried grass.

Although the puppy could have probably gone on a third hike up and down the road, it was good enough. I was glad I didn’t have to carry a 70-pound plus dog home. And Fearless seemed more than happy to get inside to collapse in his favorite sleeping spot in the living room.

It was a good enough adventure for the start of the dog days of spring.


Of course what he most intensely dreams of is being taken out on walks, and the more you are able to indulge him the more will he adore you and the more all the latent beauty of his nature will come out.

Henry James

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Where are we in March?

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 8:19pm

We thought our February WHERE ARE WE? location would be easy as it is located in a busy establishment in downtown Grand Marais. However, we had more incorrect than correct guesses, such as the Cook County Historical Society Museum or the long-defunct Leng’s Fountain. We only had one person who knew the photo of the antique phone booth (circa 1952, according to Jeff Gecas of Gun Flint Tavern) was taken in the Gun Flint Tavern.

Congratulations to Dayna Gallagher who made the correct guess. She wins
a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald.

Try your luck! Take a look at the March photo. We think this one is really
tricky. If you think you know where we were when we took this picture,
send us your answer.

You don’t have to be the first to reply. The location will be announced next
month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers.

Whoever is drawn will win a free one-year subscription to the Cook County
News-Herald (a $32 value). Good luck!

Answer to the March WHERE ARE WE? must be received by April 13, 2015.

Send your entry to:
Cook County News-Herald
PO Box 757
Grand Marais MN 55604

Drop it by our office at:

15 First Avenue West
Fax: 218-387-9500
Questions? 218-387-9100

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 Going to the dogs

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 1:55pm

Our family is getting back into our normal routine after a fabulous few days playing tourist on the Gunflint Trail. For four years now, we’ve reserved the beautiful, big, Caribou cabin at Hungry Jack Lodge during the Mush for a Cure event, to be near all the fun activities surrounding that celebration. When the 2015 fundraiser was cancelled, we kept our reservation, planning to have a family get-away anyway.

We all fondly remember the first year we stayed up the Trail for the Mush for a Cure. That weekend also ended on a beautiful sunny day with us playing on the ice in snow pants and T-shirts. My grandchildren look forward to the weekend as much as a birthday or holiday celebration. Throughout the year, they ask, “When is Mush weekend?”

When it was cancelled, we were all disappointed. We have hoarded pink clothing and accessories for years, ready to craft a costume to fit in with the Mush for a Cure theme of the year—one year it was the ‘50s; one year a pajama party and last year a somewhat creepy zombie affair.

Well, we were almost all disappointed. My lone grandson Carter wasn’t too sorry that he didn’t have to get decked out in pink along with all his girl cousins.

But all of the grandkids were sad that their fun winter adventure might not happen. But none of the grownups—grandma and grandpa or parents—wanted to cancel either, so when Forrest from Hungry Jack called to see if we were still on, we said yes!

And as plans were made, the grandkids excitedly looked forward to “Not Mush Weekend.”

We had a fantastic time, sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, making a snow castle and having snowball fights during the day and playing cards an

One of the young mushers taking part in the Dog Days of Winter.

d board games at night.

It turns out we still got our mushing fix. Sarah Hamilton of Trail Center Lodge rallied Cook County residents to host “Dog Days of Winter,” an event on March 8 just for the fun of it, all on Poplar Lake. It was a delightful event, with not only sled dogs, but skijoring. Seeing the skijoring was fun because we’ve never seen that human-dog interaction before.

It is an amazing sport, with some dogs taking off like rockets, dragging their person along smoothly and effortlessly on skinny skis. Others take a bit of encouragement and although no one fell in the Dog Days of Winter event, I’ll bet skiers do sometimes get tripped by their enthusiastic pups.

We had quite a bit of discussion about whether or not our dogs could skijor. Our younger dogs certainly have the energy, but we decided we’d be risking broken bones if we let them pull us across the lake and through the woods. One sighting of a squirrel and we’d be done for!

We always enjoy watching the sled dogs, but I think the Dog Days of Winter was extra fun because there was so much happening all at once. There were dogs taking off and dogs returning nearly simultaneously. There were dog sleds driven by local elementary school kids with just two dogs and there were adult mushers enjoying a day out with a new team of eight dogs. Most delightful I think were the families mushing together. There were more than one tandem sleds, like a bicycle built for two, with an adult in the back supervising as a child drove the dogs.

It all reminded me of P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go! A dog party!

And of course, uber hostess Sarah had hot dogs, marshmallows and cocoa down on the ice next to the bonfire. It was a great event and if Mush for a Cure doesn’t come back, I hope Dog Days of Winter does.

We agreed that something could be added to make it even more fun, if anyone has the time and the energy. Dog Days of Winter would be the perfect place to offer dog sled rides. I know that a number of kennels and resorts offer day trips, but it isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I plan a day of winter fun. But when I saw the mushers gliding across Poplar Lake, I couldn’t help thinking, “I want to try that!”

A short ride up and down the lake would be the perfect way to try out the historic pastime. Go, dog. Go!


Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness?

Jonathan Safran Foer

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