The five teenage boys were setting up their tents in the Boundary Waters at an island campsite when they noticed a message scrawled in ash on a rock: Lost Dog. Named Tomah. Call DNR. A leash was left nearby.
That’s when the eight-day canoe trip for five members of Minnetonka High School cross-country team turned into a doggie rescue mission.
After five days of paddling, the boys took a rest day on Monday, deciding to explore the large island and collect firewood.
“We figured the dog was long gone,” said Jonny Croskey, 17. “If the owners couldn’t find it, we figured we never would.”
Then they caught a glimpse of the Shetland Sheepdog, commonly known as a Sheltie, and forged numerous attempts to capture the fleet-pawed pooch.
“We tried to flush her out two or three times, but of course she’d run away,” Croskey said. “She was really fast and kept juking us and running back into the woods.”
The boys could run all day as cross-country captains, but Tomah could navigate the lower brush with greater ease until the boys gave up for the night and went into their tents to sleep.
“All night, she was barking and howling,” Croskey said.
When they crawled out of their tents Tuesday morning, they saw Tomah sleeping in a nearby grove of trees, skittish and shaking with fear. They slowly moved in and grabbed her, fashioning a rope harness.
“We’d spent so much time trying to catch her, we were paranoid about her running away again,” Croskey said. “So we kept a close eye on her.”
They plopped her in a canoe, paddled back to the pickup point, where his dad was waiting, and took Tomah to the U.S. Forest Service station in Tofte.
Not far away in Lutsen, 18-year-old Ashley Ross was trying to smile as she sold tickets at the mountain’s Alpine slide ride. Her dad, Mike, had given her a puppy six years ago when his Army Reserves deployment ended. He’d been stationed at the base in Tomah, Wis., so she named her puppy Tomah.
“She’s my baby,” said Ashley, a student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. “She was the kind of dog you never had to worry about.”
Until last weekend. Ashley joined her parents, boyfriend, aunt, uncle and cousin on a canoe trip, bringing her trusty Tomah along to an island campsite. On Saturday, “she kind of disappeared.”
They searched and scoured, “but there were lots of trees dogs could get through that were harder for people.”
On Sunday morning, Mike Ross said a prayer for the lost dog. They broke camp and left.
“That was the hard part, leaving and not being sure if she was stuck somewhere or couldn’t find her way back,” Ashley said.
On Tuesday, she saw her father had come to her job site at Lutsen.
“He didn’t think a phone call could do it justice,” she said. “For my dad to show up at work, I figured it was bad news and I couldn’t see her at first from where I was standing.”
When her father walked around the corner, she caught a glimpse of Tomah and ran for an emotional reunion. By then, the Minnetonka boys were halfway back on their ride home, feeling pretty good about their canoe trip turned rescue mission. Tomah had been on her own for three days.
“Our family cannot thank you fine young men enough from bringing Tomah home to us,” Kelli Ross, Ashley’s mother, wrote on the Star Tribune's DatelineMN blog about the no-longer-lost dog. “We searched the better part of two days looking for her and it put a huge damper on our first canoe-in camping trip.
“When we had to leave, my husband said a prayer and God answered it by sending the five of you. Tomah is home safe with her ‘girl,’ our daughter, Ashley, again. And we are eternally grateful.”
Dog rescuers, from left: Nate Jensen, Riley Nelson, Jonny Croskey, Scott Kvidera and Casey Halbmaier
(photos provided by Tom Croskey)
An e-mail circulating in Northern Minnesota and beyond reports a grim outlook on ice-out conditions in many border area lakes.
According to the email from Becca Manlove, an information officer with the Superior National Forest, pilots flying over areas "from Jackfish west and south to Birch and Vermilion Lakes" found that many lakes were still frozen right to the shoreline:
· Fall Lake had the most open water around the edges but was still 80% ice covered.
· Birch, Vermilion, Burntside, western Basswood including Pipestone and Jackfish Bays, S. Farm, and White Iron were frozen.
· There was a little open water near the bridge on the northern end of White Iron and a little open water on the southeast end.
Sawbill reportedly had 23 inches of ice on it Tuesday morning.
Manlove apologized for the report: "Sorry to spread such cold, hard news," she wrote.
Turns out, there'll be no pre-trial "gag" on the attorneys working the Byron Smith murder case.
That's the ruling out of Little Falls, where Morrison County District Judge Douglas Anderson has denied a request by Smith's attorney to restrict case lawyers from discussing the case with the media.
In rejecting the motion by Steven Meshbesher, Smith's attorney, Anderson ruled that he expects attorneys on both sides, "to adhere to the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct," particularly the rule that restricts attorneys "from making extrajudicial statements that the lawyer 'knows or reasonably should know...will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing a jury trial in a pending criminal matter.' "
Anderson wrote that adhering to the rule should "strike a balance between protecting the right to a fair trial and safeguarding the right of free expression."
In filing a motion last month asking for restrictions, Meshbesher argued that some public statements by prosecutor Pete Orput were inflammatory and could prejudice Smith's right to a fair trial.
Meshbesher's request followed a motion by Orput asking that defense attorneys be kept from releasing documents, audio recordings and other evidence before trial in order to ensure a fair trial.
Anderson ruled earlier last week that the case attorneys cannot publicly release case evidence before trial, unless ordered by the court.
Smith, 64, faces two counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Nick Brady, 17, and Brady's cousin, Haile Kifer, 18, after they broke into his Little Falls home on Thanksgiving Day. According to prosecutors and a criminal complaint, Smith shot them several times each in the basement of his home, then left their bodies in a basement workroom for a day before investigators were called to the home.
Smith's next court hearing is scheduled for May 6 in Morrison County.
Evidence showing Aaron Schaffhausen's anger in the months leading up to his three daughters' deaths should be allowed at his murder trial because it speaks to his mindset, prosecutors argued in court papers filed late Friday.
Schaffhausen is accused of killing his three daughters in the girls’ River Falls home in July. He entered an insanity plea in the case last month.
Professional snowboarder Dan Brisse, a native of Richmond, Minn., is pledging to donate $10,000 of potential prize money to slain Cold Spring police officer Thomas Decker’s family. Decker was shot Nov. 29, leaving behind a widow and four young children. Brisse and Decker both attended Rocori High School.
“Tom was a couple years older than me, but we met a few times here and there,” Brisse, 29, said from his home in Salt Lake City. “I think this is a good opportunity to do something cool and give back a little.”
Chasing his dreams, Brisse (pronounced Breezy) headed West a decade ago after graduating from Rocori. It took four years until he started getting paid. But the last two years, Brisse has won back-to-back $50,000 prizes and gold medals in the X Games’ “Real Snow” competition. The money goes to the boarder whose 60-second video of his best jumps wows the judges. Separate fan voting at www.xgames.com/realsnow is underway. Brisse will learn Monday if he’s one of two finalists. Fan voting from Jan. 22-27 will determine the winner. If it’s Brisse, he’ll kick $10,000 to the Decker fund.