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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2014 • 1

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Miss Waseca County Sleigh & Cutter: Katie Schroeder Miss Waseca County Sleigh & Cutter Outstanding Teen: Sadie Odenbrett Miss South Central: Laureen Fellows Miss South Central Outstanding Teen: Alyssa Crum Miss Minnesota Outstanding Teen: Corrina Swiggum


FEATURE S February 2014 Volume 9, Issue 2



Best in show Tips for keeping pets happy, healthy and strong

20 Day Trip

24 A home away

Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Festival

BENCHS foster parents provide temporary care and permanent love


from home

28 High horses

Austin family breeds and shows elegant Peruvian horses

About the Cover

Walter Roberts and his two certified therapy dogs, Murphy and Prairie, pictured in their home. Photo by The Free Press Media photographer John Cross. MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2014 • 3





6 From the Editor Pets keep us human 8 Odds ‘n’ Ends 10 Introductions Walter Roberts 12 The Gallery 20 Day Trip Destinations Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Festival 30 Coming Attractions Events to check out in February 32 That’s Life A Musolf by any other name 34 Then and Now School mascots 36 What’s Cooking Feasts fit for fur and feather 44 From This Valley Letters of the Greatest Generation



34 4 • February 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE



Coming in March We pay homage to community builders. From Clarence Staley, the man who helped turn Sibley Park into a recreation destination before his untimely death 80 years ago, to Vic Paradis, a Mankato boy who survived Pearl Harbor, to women making a difference in the community today — this issue is all about the people who have shaped and molded Mankato into the place we call home. Join us, and we’ll voice our thanks in unison.

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From The Editor


February 2014 • VOLUME 9, ISSUE 2 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Tanner Kent EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Leticia Gonzales Sarah Johnson Jean Lundquist Heidi Sampson



Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $19.95 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail

6 • February 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Joe Spear

Pets keep us human

Pets are not ‘owned’ but part of the family


hey say pets can take on the traits and personalities of their owners or conversely that owners take on the personas of their pets. Either way, you’re likely to consider those axioms reading through this month’s pet-themed edition of Mankato Magazine. I’m not sure if more people own pets or pet owners just pay a whole lot more attention to their pet. I even hesitate to use the term pet “owner” as pets seem like they are more and more referred to as members of the family. Given the commerce that has grown up around the idea of pets, it seems the societal standing of pets is growing. Of course, from the first Disney films, pets have been portrayed in high regard. Take “101 Dalmatians,” for example. Here we find pets that are not only heroic, but who also have developed a brotherhood of sorts that looks out for each other. The classic barking chain gets the “intelligence” to Pongo and Perdita on the whereabouts of their stolen puppies. “Lady and the Tramp” is a tribute to the chivalry of pets. Benji. Lassie. More heroism. Even creatures you wouldn’t find terrible physically attractive, a spider for instance, gets good street cred in “Charlotte’s Web.” Pigs have intelligence and finely tuned feelings of sensitivity and are otherwise glorified in “Babe.” They’re kept amazingly clean too. Few filmmakers have found it appropriate or profitable to cast a bad light on pets in the cinema. Evil pets in a movie are usually born of some mutation, most likely brought on by humans. And so we have a number of local folks who take great care of our pets and have their well-being as a major point of priority. Dr. Maryann Nelson, veterinarian at North Mankato Animal Hospital, has noted that pet owners are becoming more in tune with the use

of lasers for pet surgeries as they “create less pain, less blood loss and quicker recoveries post-surgery,” according a report in this month’s issue by Heidi Sampson. Even more significant, however, is the growing service of dental care for pets. Says Nelson: “We use the same polish dentists use on us. Plus, it is important to realize that by having a pet’s teeth cleaned periodically, they can live up to two years longer.” Dogs, of course, have long been “man’s best friend” but we find part of that friendship can and probably should involve obedience training. While general obedience training may be good for any dog, some can take it to a higher level of what can be likened to an athletic competition in the form of dog and kennel shows. Lynn Davey, training director of Key City Kennel Club, advises one not need have a top of the lineage pure bred dog to enter the competitions. Dogs need only be registered as a mixed breed and undergo the requisite surgeries to compete in the kennel shows. Once they are registered, dogs can compete in agility trials and companion trials. And finally, people and their pets can learn from each other. Melanie Newtown, a buyer at Pet Expo, advises people to buy interactive toys for their pets that challenge them physically and mentally. “I know a lot of problem behaviors usually stem from the result of boredom,” she says. “These types of interactive toys engage both the owner and animal as they alleviate boredom issues.” There’s a life lesson in that concept somewhere. And if pets and their people can alleviate boredom and skirt those problem behaviors, we’re all a little better off. M

Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at or 344-6382.

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This Day in History By Tanner Kent Feb. 6, 1920: During the annual meeting of the St. Peter Mission District of the Augustana Synod, members not only elected officers but passed a number of resolutions. Among them, a measure endorsing the stance against “modern dance” taken by Gustavus Adolphus College officials and another measure denouncing gambling and “pleasure seeking tendencies.” Feb. 11, 1920: After calling dozens of witnesses and deliberating the evidence for six days, a grand jury of Blue Earth County residents handed down 17 indictments against the Mankato chief of police, John D. Martin, and other officers in the department. The jury also recommended a complete reorganization of the department. Among the findings: Chief Martin allowed rampant gambling in Mankato in pool halls and other establishments, even going so far as to cover up investigations prompted by other officers; minors and students were allowed to participate in gambling activities; and, the department was not willing to cooperate with the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office in “detection of crimes and apprehension of criminals.” The day before the jury’s indictments were handed down, Chief Martin was arrested for malfeasance. The matter came only weeks after a heated exchange during a City Council meeting in which women from various community organizations complained about the conduct of Chief Martin, especially toward the city’s recently resigned policewoman. Their complaints drew a sharp rebuke from Mayor Watters, who said the policewoman actually quit because of unfriendly behavior from other women in town. Feb. 13, 1900: The Free Press offered unabashed praise for the nurses and physicians of St. Joseph’s hospital (now, Mayo Clinic Health System of Mankato) after a medical team removed a large tumor from the neck of a Cottonwood man. Though the tumor stretched from his “lower jaw to his collarbone,” St. Joseph’s hospital (now, Mayo Clinic Health System of Mankato) the tumor was as seen in 1912. | Photo courtesy of Blue Earth County Historical successfully removed. Society The Free Press wrote: “It is quite unnecessary for patients in and about Mankato to go elsewhere for surgical operations or hospital treatment.” Feb. 28, 1913: After going missing on Dec. 19, Augusta Jennings appeared unexpectedly at her brother’s home in Brown County. She had gone missing from St. Alexander’s Hospital where the 30-year-old was being treated for “melancholia” and had not been seen or heard from since her disappearance. When found, she was weak and emaciated, wearing the same clothes in which she was last seen and her feet frozen to the point of requiring amputation. What’s more, she had no recollection of where she’d been or what she’d experienced while away. On the day after she was found, while staying at her brother’s house, Jennings attempted another escape through a bedroom window. Police tracked her for several hours through the snow until they retrieved her once again and transported her back to St. Alexander’s.

Ask the Expert: Winter travel

By Nell Musolf

Planning a clean getaway


ith a few months of cold, winter weather behind and the possibility of a few more months ahead, taking a vacation seems especially appealing at this time of year. Julie Willis of Emerald Travel and Cruises shared some tips to help make any winter trip a success. “Once the cold settles in, it definitely impacts the requests coming in,” Willis said. “If it’s a mild fall, people tend to think they can survive the winter. But once we get the first decent snowfall or cold snap, we get very busy.” Willis suggests booking a vacation at least three to four months in advance of the travel dates in order to get the best deals. “If you are open to destinations and dates, we can usually fulfill most requests within reason,” Willis said. She said most popular weekend getaway is Las Vegas, a spot that is typically very economical to visit. She said other popular destinations are San Francisco, San Antonio, Chicago and New Orleans. For people seeking romantic destinations, Savannah, New York City, Myrtle Beach and Montreal might fill the bill. Whether planning a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, Willis said that much depends on the destination and time of year.

Julie Willis of Emerald Travel. | Mankato Magazine file photo

“In the summertime, it is much easier to find availability, especially if you are flexible on the dates. However, the timeframe after Thanksgiving week and before Christmas week tends to be a very quiet travel time so that can be a very good time to get great deals,” Willis said.

News to use: Sprucing up the office By Lindsey M. Roberts | Special To The Washington Post


ome offices — or desktop spaces in kitchens or bedroom niches — offer great opportunities to accessorize well and add personality. We turned to Lauren Liess, an interior designer and blogger in Great Falls, Va., as well as Darlene Molnar, a Washington interior designer and adjunct professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design, to help us find timeless case goods and the latest, greatest accessories. • “Everyone loves chalkboard,” Liess says. “Buy the paint from Home Depot, paint part of a wall. For one of our clients, we painted with magnetic board paint and then with chalkboard paint. He can put magnets on it. It’s really practical.” For those who can’t stand chalk, try whiteboard paint. • “Everything brought into your office — or entire home, really — should be something that you actually like and that makes a statement,” Liess says. “Even a stapler can be a personal choice, so pick out one you love.” • “Organization is so crucial to keep your mind from getting overwhelmed and cluttered,” Molnar says. Clear organizing tools, such as an dividing trays, help you find things easily, minimizing visual as well as actual clutter. If your home office is just a nook in your kitchen, you might need to hide files away in another room. File coonsoles can sit out in plain sight in a living room and no one’s the wiser on where pay stubs are stored.

A chalkboard adds a functional touch to this office. | Washington Post photo • Liess says that good overall lighting is essential; once that’s in place, you can focus on tasks with spot lamps. “Anything with a nice metal swing arm and movable head is nice,” she says. MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 9




Tanner Kent

Golden opportunity

MSU instructor turns love of dogs into therapeutic pursuit

10 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

and I moved to North Mankato in December 1992 from Arkansas. It was -5 degrees when we arrived just a few days before Christmas — welcome to Minnesota! I started work the second semester of that academic year at Minnesota State in the Counseling and Student Personnel Department. It’s hard to believe that we’re working on our 21st year in the Mankato community. MM: Tell us a little about your pets. Who are they, and how did they come to be part of your family? WR: We are a family that has always been around animals and had pets of one kind or another. I laugh and say that about the only thing we haven’t had yet is a pet yak or muskox, but there’s still time. We’ve always believed that pets are an excellent way for kids to learn responsibility, compassion and empathy. When the boys were growing up, we went through two dogs, two cats, a hedgehog, two guinea pigs and the obligatory couple of goldfish. Almost all of those were strays, adopted or given to us. We are very strong advocates of pet adoption because we believe in giving everyone — people and animals — second chances. Now that the boys are grown and with families of their own, Laurie and I are down to just the dogs. We currently have three golden retrievers.

LEFT Walter Roberts and his therapy dogs, Prairie and Murphy. TOP Murphy makes a visit to a Mankato elementary school. ABOVE Prairie and Murphy are rescue dogs who have both earned therapy dog certification. Roberts is still working with his third dog, Tchoupi (not pictured). | Photos by John Cross


or a counselor whose made a career of standing up to bullying and reducing school violence, it seems incongruous to say Walter Roberts Jr. is the leader of something called the Golden Horde. But in contrast to its imposing name, the Golden Horde is actually a four-legged team of therapy dogs that Roberts rescued and now shares with the world. A lifelong pet lover and instructor in Minnesota State University’s counselor education department, Roberts brings his dogs into a variety of therapeutic settings, from schools to nursing homes — and now, even airports. The Mankato Magazine caught up with Roberts for a few questions about how he was able to merge his lifetime love of dogs with his professional pursuits: Mankato Magazine: Can you give me a quick sketch of your background? Where are you from, and how did you end up in Mankato? Walter Roberts Jr. Laurie, our two sons, Burt and Ian,

MM: Two of your dogs, Murphy and Prairie, are certified therapy dogs. How did you get interested in therapy dogs, and just what does the title mean? WR: Yes, the pride and joy of the household zoo now are the dogs — Murphy, Prairie, and the new pup, Tchoupitoulas Rose. We call her Tchoupi (“Choppy”) for short, because no one can ever pronounce it from the spelling. Murphy and Prairie were both adopted and came from abusive situations. We got them two years apart from different rescue organizations. The plan is to eventually train Tchoupi to pass her tests to become another therapy dog and join Murphy and Prairie. Because Murphy and Prairie had been abused, we first had to work with each of them to feel safe. After they overcame those hurdles — and it took time — they learned their basic commands and went through the series of tests needed to meet the requirements to be a therapy dog. The tests are designed to ensure that the dogs follow commands, don’t frighten easily, and are comfortable around a variety of people and chaotic situations. That’s very important because therapy dogs often visit locations where there may be medical equipment which makes sounds that might frighten a dog without special training. And then, of course, there’s the normal activity and noise MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 11

In addition to schools and nursing homes, Walter and his therapy dogs have begun visiting the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Roberts said a field trial at the airport last October was successful and that such visits by therapy dogs will become more common. | John Cross levels which they encounter with kids in schools. We spend a lot of time in area K-12 schools and kids just can’t get enough of the dogs. Murphy and Prairie are so calm and gentle, kids just crawl all over them. MM: Where have you taken your therapy dogs in the past? Can you share any experiences or observations that illustrate the benefits therapy dogs can have? WR: We’ve been very fortunate and thankful that Mankato and the region have been so welcoming to Murphy and Prairie. They have visited thousands of people in almost every place imaginable — assisted-living facilities, group homes, chemical treatment settings, schools, universities, workshops and conferences. They’ve worked with individuals to help reduce test anxiety and with others who have a phobia of dogs. Both Murphy and Prairie are mascots and responders with the South Central Minnesota American Red Cross chapter and they accompany me when I go out on disaster calls. When their therapy dog vests come out, they get really excited because they know they’re about to go and interact with people. Goldens are social creatures and they live to share their love with others. It’s truly amazing how they can connect with people in ways that we often don’t understand. I’ve seen children with special needs who would not communicate with adults in classroom settings carry on extensive conversations with the dogs. Caregivers have commented that some of their patients with Alzheimer’s have shown a higher level of alertness 12 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

and activity when the dogs are nearby. Some of my fondest memories are when children and adults who were blind interacted with Murphy or Prairie and described their vision of the dogs through touch. You don’t forget moments like that because they’re glimpses into very private worlds that we often do not get the privilege to share. MM: Where might we see Murphy and Prairie in the future? WR: We’re very excited about our next opportunity. Last fall I had some conversations with the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport about helping to assist it in starting a therapy dog visitor program on some type of regular basis. Therapy dog team visits to larger airports are a recent development, and the MSP people were very receptive to the idea. Airport travel is stressful these days, especially with all the security issues, flight delays, and overcrowded flights. In October, MSP officials invited Murphy and Prairie, along with another therapy dog team, to do a field trial of the dogs at the airport to see how travelers and staff would respond. It went very well. So well, in fact, that MSP is working with the Animal Humane Society in the Twin Cities to make it a regular part of the airport experience. So, we hope to expand our visit schedule to make regular trips to work with MSP and the Animal Humane Society to get that airport therapy dog program off the ground and up and running — or maybe, flying, in this instance.

MM: What kind of dogs can be therapy dogs? Did you know right away that Murphy and Prairie would be good candidates? WR: Therapy dogs and their handlers are considered teammates, so both the dog and the handler are observed during the testing phase. Any dog could be a therapy dog if it has the right temperament. It has to be calm in the midst of noise and changing situations, know and follow its basic commands — sit, stay, come, walk on a leash, be maneuverable — those are just a few of the basics. And, of course, it has to pass its behavior tests through one of the therapy dog organizations. The three big ones are Therapy Dogs Incorporated, Therapy Dogs International, and Pet Partners. There are local testers here in Mankato and the Twin Cities for all of these organizations. We knew that Murphy would make a great therapy dog from the first day we got him because he was so personable and easygoing. Prairie, on the other hand — we shed a lot of tears over helping him get over his abuse and anxieties and then wondering if he could ever settle down enough to pass the tests. It took a lot of patience — a lot of patience — but it eventually all paid off when he passed and got that tag that says “I am a Therapy Dog.“ MM: Personally speaking, what benefits do you find in pet ownership? WR: Pets have taught our children about life and death, about how important it is to share love. Raising, caring for, and nurturing a pet can be both financially and emotionally expensive, but the return on that investment is far greater than the cost. We couldn’t live without animals in our house and we most likely will always have a house full of goldens from here on out. And who knows? If we ever retire and get some land somewhere, maybe we’ll get that yak, after all. A therapy yak. Yeah, now that’s the ticket! M

Concerned about your child or adolescent’s behavior? Is your child experiencing mood swings, hyperactivity, unexplained tantrums or bouts with anger, aggressive behaviors, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating and severe anxiety? At the Mankato Clinic, we have providers who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric and child behavioral health disorders.

Call 507-387-3195 to make your appointment. Mankato Clinic Child Psychiatry Providers

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MANKATO CLINIC 1-800-657-6944 • MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 13

The Gallery

Creative cards

A little sparkle goes a long way for card-making duo By Nell Musolf


usiness partners and friends Marie Squires and Janis St. Onge agree on many things. One thing in particular is that a little sparkle goes a long way — especially on the greeting cards that the duo creates using a variety of colorful fabrics and a whole lot of imagination. “The fabric can look very drab without sparkle,” St. Onge noted as she held up a greeting card with a sparkling jonquil on its cover. “After we put the glitter on it, it looks completely different.” Squires and St. Onge have figured out over the years just how much glitter to use to bring their cards to life. After forming their partnership, J & M Fabric Greeting Cards, the two women have also figured out a distribution of the card-making workload so that each of them is in charge of what they do best. “Marie cuts the figures out of the fabric,” St. Onge explained. “She has the patience for that kind of thing.” Squires said, “It does take patience but I like to do it.” Among the fabric figures that are featured on their handmade cards are seasonal items such as Valentine’s hearts and Santa Clauses, to puppies and kittens and vintage cars. After Squires cuts the figures out, St. Onge attaches them to the front of the greetings cards with diluted glue. The sparkle is the last thing added. “We sell the cards in groups of five for $10,” Squires said. “People have said that they use them for announcements and thank you notes and a whole lot of other things.” In addition to making thousands of handmade cards, Squires and St. Onge are also fashion designers for 18-inch dolls and create items such as sleeping bags, carrying totes and clothing. For the tiny sleeping bags, Squires is always on the lookout for donations of the zippers that come with the plastic cases that sheets and blankets come in.

14 • February 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

“Those zippers are perfect for my sleeping bags,” Squires said. Whether the two women are making greeting cards or doll-sized sleeping bags, they are always busy. “My son asked me if I ever relax,” Squires said. “I told him that doing what I do is relaxing to me.” J & M Fabric Greeting cards doesn’t have a website but can be reached at 507-385-7886 or 507-345- Mary Squires (pictured) and Janis St. Onge make 4369. fabric greeting cards. | Photos by John Cross

Now performing

Monarch Meadows chef displays skill, humor during monthly culinary club By Tanner Kent


arry Ahl’s wisecracks are almost as good as his food. now-demolished Gage Tower as well as the kitchen at the Once his monthly culinary club events with Kraft plant in New Ulm before accepting the job at residents, the chef at Monarch Meadows three years Monarch Meadows Senior ago. Community in North Mankato Ahl takes the job seriously, holds court in the facility’s main acknowledging that many residents dining hall, spooning up sample were once the primary cooks for portions of fine culinary fare with their own families and striving to a side of humor. For an hour, Ahl produce meals as tasty as their tries out new dishes, cooks up own. When a meal doesn’t measure some traditional favorites and up, Ahl doesn’t pull his punches. adds in a few oddities — all the “This next dish,” Ahl said, while regaling those in attendance introducing a sample of beef with cooking tips, stories and a macaroni from one of the facility’s few laughs. food distributors, “is terrible. We “I bought 200 pounds of won’t be buying this. But I hope lutefisk,” Ahl said as he opened you guys enjoy it.” January’s culinary club event by Before the club wraps up, Ahl introducing three different styles dishes up samples of turkey of the traditional (and divisive) tetrazzini, meatballs in mushroom Norwegian dish often served and onion gravy, Swedish and around the Christmas holiday. TOP Barry Ahl during January’s culinary club meeting. ABOVE Norwegian styles of lefse, pot “I’ve been it serving all month long Edyth Leas (right) and Carol Bollman sample the fare. | Photos roast, and several styles of desserts — and I still have 198 pounds to by John Cross that are made in Le Center. go.” For next month’s culinary club When the groans had subsided event, Ahl said he will be whipping (and about half the room had sampled the lutefisk), Ahl up examples of the dishes he liked to eat during introduced two more dishes while sharing his secret for intermissions from pickup hockey games in his native homemade cranberry sauce — a bag of cranberries, 1 cup Good Thunder. He also has white chili and a version of of water and 1 cup of sugar, boiled until the cranberries tomato soup he learned in North Dakota. explode — and a bit about his formative years as a cook in North Dakota. Ahl said members of the public are welcome to attend After working several years at his family’s restaurant, Ahl culinary club events at 3 p.m. on the first Thursday of followed his Army unit when it relocated its headquarters to each month. There is no cost to attend. Mankato. He ran the kitchen at Minnesota State University’s MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 15

Dr. Maryann Nelson of North Mankato Pet Hospital said dental care is becoming a more significant piece of a pet’s overall care. | Pat Christman

Best in show Tips and trends for keeping pets healthy, happy and strong By Heidi Sampson


hese days, it seems, pets aren’t just pets anymore. They’re members of the family. And thanks to products and services designed specifically for them, our fourlegged family members can be stronger, healthier and happier than ever Area experts say there is a greater understanding of health risks to pets as preventive measures, vaccines and earlier diagnosis of problem illnesses are becoming more common practice. There has also been a move toward dental care and the prevention of periodontal disease. 16 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Keeping a pet healthy and happy, however, often comes down to keeping them active. Day care can be a valuable resource for pet owners who can’t always provide exercise because of work commitments. The trend toward interactive toys also helps alleviate boredom while raw and freeze-dried foods allow for a more wholesome diet. For even more trends, we talked with a bevy of area pet professionals to get their thoughts and ideas. Here’s what they shared:

Disease prevention

Within the last two or three years, Dr. Doug Schauberger, veterinarian of Nicollet Veterinarian Clinic, has seen an increase in the diagnosis of leptospirosis and Lyme disease. “Leptospirosis is a bacterium that is generally a wildlife problem in Minnesota,” said Schauberger. “It lives in possums, skunks, coyotes and deer, as they can all be carriers. The leptospirosis bacterium thrives in water. Dogs that have contact with water either through swimming or drinking, ditch water, pond water, standing water or even stagnant water are our biggest worries. It can be a devastating disease that affects the liver and kidneys. We are highly recommending that any dog who is at risk while outdoors, be current on their vaccines.” Lyme disease, which is carried by deer ticks, “used to be a disease of dogs that went to Wisconsin or northern Minnesota,” Schauberger said. “That isn’t the case anymore. We now have antibiotics and antiinflammatories to either put the disease in remission or try to eliminate it altogether.”

Vet tech

Dr. Maryann Nelson, veterinarian at North Mankato Animal Hospital, specializes in surgery, dental work and basic veterinary care. Nelson said she believes there has been an increase in awareness among pet owners regarding the use of lasers for surgery, as they create less pain, less blood loss and quicker recoveries post-surgery. A blood analyzer at North Mankato Pet Hospital that can scan for several maladies with just a few drops of blood. But she said one of the more Such innovations have made veterinary care more efficient and precise. | Pat Christrman significant changes to veterinary medicine has been in the increase prevent a lot of those later health problems if we could see cats of dental care as part of the yearly checkup. yearly, as we do dogs.” “We do have to put the animal to sleep to clean their teeth; however the change is pretty dramatic,” Nelson said. “We use Get ’em working the same polish dentists use on us. Plus, it is important to A basic obedience class allows dog owners the ability to find realize that by having a pet’s teeth cleaned periodically, they out what they can do with their dog, while simultaneously can live up to two years longer.” looking into what else they could do. According to Lynn Davey, Nelson has also noticed a trend in cat owners as cats have training director for Key City Kennel Club, mixed-breed dog become a part of her regular clientele. owners have more options available to them then they may “Cats need their annual exams just like dogs, which is realize. Mixed-breed dog owners can now register their dogs something many cat owners do not do or realize they need to through the American Kennel Club. do,” Nelson said. “Many cats get their initial shots, spading or “Once the dog is registered, they can compete in companion neutering, but then many times we don’t see them again until trials, agility trials, and earn titles the same as purebred dogs,” they are much older and are having health problems. We could Davey said. “It has been a wonderful addition for those with MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 17

ABOVE Pet Expo’s Melanie Newton said interactive toys are a good way to alleviate boredom and associated behaviors. BELOW For healthier diets, many dog owners are turning to craft kibble brands. | Photos by Pat Christman mixed breed dogs who want to see what else they can do. Of course the mixed breed dog must be neutered or spaded to get that mixed breed registration but the ability to register, gives owners who adopt dogs out of shelters or those who prefer to buy mixed breeds, more options as owners.” As far as trends in training techniques, Davey said it only looks like there are new methods. “If you really dissect what it is this new method is supposed to do, it always comes down to the basics,” said Davey. “The basics are the basics. Find a job for your dog and they will be happier. It’s just that simple.”

Doggie day care

Day care facilities for dogs operate much like a day care facility for children, in that both keep their clients busy while mom and dad are away at work. “If the dog comes to us during the day, the owner wouldn’t have to worry about walking the dog for a mile or two when they get home,” said Lora Bode, manager of The Paw. “Owners 18 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

will also find that their pets are less disruptive if their energy is being used constructively.” The Paw encourages education through training programs, exercise and play. Their doggie day care program, hydrotherapy, and underwater treadmill options are available to dog owners who are looking for new and creative ways to challenge their pet. “I think a lot of surrendered dogs are surrendered because the owner doesn’t have time for them,” Bode said. “Owners will see that their dogs are happier and healthier if given something to do.”

Interactive toys

When looking for a cat or dog toy, owners might want to consider interactive toys, a puzzle-type toy that challenges the animal both physically and mentally. “I know a lot of problem behaviors usually stem from the result of boredom,” said Melanie Newton, a buyer at Pet Expo. “These types of interactive toys engage both the owner and animal as they alleviate boredom issues.”

Brands like Kong, Premiere, West Paw, and Jolly Balls, all contain 30-day, money-back guarantees on their interactive toys. These companies will replace the toy once if it gets damaged within those first 30 days.

What’s for dinner?

Raw and freeze-dried pet foods are designed to mimic what a dog would eat in the wild. These types of foods are vitamin and mineral dense, as they are not cooked out of the food in its creation. “Raw and freeze-dried foods typically help with weight management, healthier skin, a shinier coat, increased vitality, a reduction in allergy symptoms and cleaner teeth,” Newton said. Smaller-size kibble companies are also gaining popularity among dog and cat owners with companies like NutriSource and Sojos. Both are Minnesota-based companies who pride themselves on wholesome, local ingredients tailored to fit a pet’s needs.


Pretty pet

Andrea Wruck, dog groomer at The Paw, believes that trends in dog grooming vary according to the breed with many owners opting for basic cuts that accommodate a busier life style. “It is important that a pet’s owner maintain that cut during the winter months as well,” Wruck said. “The biggest misconception is that a dog doesn’t have to be groomed in the winter. When that first chilly breeze hits in September, people are inclined to start pulling back rather than keeping up on pets maintenance; but to stop in September and not do anything until spring, is way too long.” While the typical bow and bandana long used to adorn dogs have gotten flashier, owners should expect to see dog highlights, hair dying, hair extensions, bead work, and even glitter, take that trend even further. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2014 • 19

Day Trip Destinations: Sleigh


Cutter Festival

By Leticia Gonzales

The festival must go on. Even if there’s no snow — like the 2009 edition pictured above — the Waseca Sleigh and Cutter festival participants can swap out wheels for runners. | Free Press file photo

Strong as a horse M

Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Festival grows bigger by the year

innesota winters can be arduous, but there are many outdoor activities around the state to keep you busy, active — and distracted from the cold. The annual Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Festival aims to do just that. “This time of year, a lot of times families are looking for something to do,” said Scott Roemhildt, vce president of the Sleigh and Cutter Association. “This gives them activities for weeks that they can get involved in.” Roemhildt, a Waseca County resident who has helped organized the event for nearly 20 years, said the festival focuses on being family-oriented. “We want Sleigh and Cutter to be something the whole family participates in,” he said. “All of our events our free; it doesn’t take a pocket-full of money to participate in the Sleigh and Cutter Festival.” While the Sleigh and Cutter Association is only made up of about a dozen organizers, Roemhildt said it is the outpouring of the community and the involvement of the locals that creates the festival. “It’s three weeks long, thousands of people participate, and 20 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

each year continues to grow,” he said. “We tend to think we have hit our peak, but then a new group comes and shows up.” Sleigh and Cutter Association President Ken Borgmann, who has helped organize the event for the past 18 years, said the group depends on countless sponsors who not only help fund the events, but also run them. “It started in 1950 with some local businesspeople who wanted to do a winter break or winter activity, and they were horse people,” said Borgmann. “They had some horses and some sleighs. They were in a barbershop and that is where the idea started.” The group held its first parade in 1951. “For many years, it was a get-together and parade on Saturday,” he said. Having been organized by groups like the Sheriff’s Posse in Waseca and the former University of Minnesota-Waseca, the festival has changed hands several times during its 64 years. “It has really come along,” Borgmann said. “We have gone from ... a two–day festival to more than dozen days and events.”

What is a Cutter?


f you were curious as to what a cutter was, Sleigh and Cutter Association President Ken Borgmann has your answers. “A sleigh is a bigger unit and is usually pulled by two horses, and has two runners on each side,” he said. “A runner is what the sled is.” The main difference between a sleigh and cutter, Borgmann said, is that “a cutter has two runners, and a sleigh has four.” Waseca Sleigh & Cutter Festival paradegoers can expect to see a variety of sleighs, cutters and even bobsleds this year. Borgmann said bobsleds were traditionally used to haul equipment. “Back in the old days, they hauled wood with it,” he said. “It’s a working unit.” Many of the sleighs seen at the festival may have wheels on them, since riders come prepared in case there isn’t any snow. According to Borgmann, “the training of the horses takes a different talent and a different horse to be able to pull a wagon, a buggy, a sleigh, or a cutter.”

The festival features various outdoor winter activities from curling and ice harvesting and sculpting, to a polar plunge, live music and a medallion hunt. “My first thing that I really tried to do 17 years ago was to get Frosty back to the festival,” Borgmann said. “Frosty is a secret identity person that they put clues in the paper and the radio and they try to guess who that person is. That and the medallion hunt have gone from a few hundred dollars to having cash prizes of $1,500 each.” Attendance for the event has also grown. “We did an attendance study two years ago,” said Borgmann. “We had over 9,000 people attend the different events. Some events may just have a few dozen or 50 or 100, and that is successful for them.” The parade, however, is the festival’s largest single event, with more than 2,000 people in attendance. “What is unique about the parade is that it’s just for animal powered units,” Borgmann said. “We don’t allow tractors or trucks or fire engines.” The event draws visitors from various communities in southern Minnesota, including Janesville, New Richland, Owatonna and Mankato, as well as guests form northern Wisconsin and Iowa. “We get downtown filled with spectators, over a couple hundred horses in the parade,” Roemhildt said. Although this year’s even hasn’t run its course, Roemhildt said organizers are already starting to plan for next year’s festival. “We don’t do it because of the hours involved, we want to do this for the community,” he said. M

Sleigh & Cutter highlights Jan. 31 through Feb. 22, and March 22 For a complete list of the events, sponsors and additional details, please visit Feb. 5:

Old Fashioned Ice Harvest by Clear Lake Park. Free to area schools and the public, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact program@ to register.

Feb. 5-7: Ice Sculpting in downtown Waseca at Gallagher Square, south of the Waseca County Courthouse. Feb. 7:

Sleigh & Cutter Dinner at the Waseca VFW Club, 5-7:30 p.m.; $12.00 tickets available from any Sleigh & Cutter member or at the door.

Feb. 7:

Free dance at the Waseca VFW Club, featuring Chris Brooks and the Silver City Boys, 8:30 p.m. to close. Winners of the 17th Annual Frosty and Medallion Contests will be announced at 9:30 p.m.

Feb. 8:

Sleigh & Cutter Parade. Starts at noon from the Waseca County Fairgrounds and runs through downtown Waseca.

Feb. 8:

Kruger Memorial Vintage Snowmobile Race and Time Trials on Clear Lake by The Boat House Grill & Bar; registration is 8-10:30 a.m., race starts at 11 a.m. Contact Tony Kruger 507-461-0177 or www.

Feb. 8:

6th Annual Sleigh & Cutter Ice Curling Bonspiel, curling on Clear Lake by the Boat House Grill & Bar; 8 a.m. For details, visit

Feb. 15:

11th Annual Diabetes Golf Tournament, Boat House Grill & Bar, 9 a.m.

Feb. 15:

MN Skydivers Jump, 11 a.m. Visit for more information.

Feb. 15:

Waseca County Family Snowmobile Ride, Boat House Grill & Bar, 10 a.m.

Feb. 16:

Free Family Put-Put Golf Event

Feb. 22:

Waldorf Vintage Snowmobile Run, noon, 7806 250th Avenue, New Richland

March 22: 10th Annual Sleigh & Cutter Children’s Dream Catcher fundraiser for terminally ill children in the Waseca area. 2 p.m. MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 21


By John Cross


ome February, the words “pretty” and “snow” become oxymoronic for many Minnesotans. The luster that came with those first pristine white blankets in November, that white Christmas in December, has long since faded away. So deep into the winter season and after months of shoveling, of slippery roads, even the most stouthearted Minnesotans begin to believe they live in a regular Winter Wonderland. As in “I wonder if it will ever stop snowing this winter ...” M

22 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 23

24 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

A Home

home away from

BENCHS foster parents provide temporary care and permanent love By Nell Musolf


or the Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society, foster families play a vital role in furthering the shelter’s mission of providing animals with humane and loving treatment as well physical care. But fostering isn’t easy. By definition, each bond that is forged between pets and their foster families ends in separation. Whether it’s handing off the pet to a new family or providing companionship in its final days, foster parents might say goodbye “You have — but they never forget.

transition from the pets’ old life to their new ones as stress free as possible, even if the pet will be with her family for only a short period of time. “We make them feel part of our family by giving them a lot of love. I like to learn what kind of personality each pet has which helps finding them a person or family that suits them,” Judi explained. While all of the dogs that the Wendts have fostered have been special to them, are a few that stand out. Judi recalls to know that there a Yorkie named Bella who was having the time will come when trouble adjusting to shelter life. The Wendts “Some of the smaller dogs don’t do as Becoming a foster parent to a pet has well in a shelter setting,” Judi said. “She that right person or been a rewarding journey for Judi Wendt was such a sweet girl but she was so family will come along and her husband, John. The Wendts began frightened when we took her home and fostering pets for the Blue Earth County introduced her to our four dogs.” and you will have to say Humane Society in May of 2013. Since that The Wendts had Bella for six weeks and, time they have fostered eight dogs. happily, she adjusted quickly to her goodbye — but that is “When I retired I wanted to become temporary home, latching on to John in what it’s all about.” involved with our local pet shelter because particular and spending as much time with of my passion for homeless pets,” Judi said. him in his work shop as she possibly could. “I really didn’t give it much thought when I “It was never a surprise when we would was asked if I would foster one of the come to find Bella sitting on the kitchen shelter dogs. It was something I wanted to table with one of our dogs, both looking do even though we have four dogs of our out the window. Bella now has a good life own.” with a retired couple who can give her all the attention and Pet foster parents can have a foster pet for anywhere from love that she needs,” Judi said. three weeks to much longer and provide a home for the pet Another special dog was Sassy, a Shih Tzu who arrived at until it can be adopted. Judi said that she tries to make the their home with a full-blown case of separation anxiety. The MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 25

“Animals live in the moment. They don’t worry about tomorrow so if we can give them even one day out of the shelter surrounded by love, that is a success for us.”

Wendts had Sassy for a month and discovered that all she needed were more dogs around to keep her company when her foster parents left the house. Sassy eventually found a home with a family that had another dog to keep her company. Being a foster pet parent requires knowing that sooner or later the pet will be moving on to another home, something the Wendts were aware of from the very beginning. “You have to have the right mindset when you foster pets,” Judi said. “You have to know that the time will come when that right person or family will come along and you will have to say good-bye — but that is what it is all about. I know when the new owner takes the leash of one of our foster dogs and they don’t look back that we have done our job. Each one of our foster dogs takes a little piece of my heart when they are adopted. But it’s all about giving our furry friends the good life.” The Nelsons While fostering healthy pets can be an emotional challenge, fostering hospice pets can be even more difficult — but still very rewarding. Katherine and Don Nelson have been involved with BENCHS for the past seven years and many of the pets that they have cared for have had special needs as well as pets who don’t have much time left and have been put into hospice care. “Over the years we have had many foster pets with special needs and hospice pets,” Katherine said. “Some were just old and unadoptable. Others were sick and we knew that they had only a short time left.” The Nelsons are aware of the fact that they can’t always fix what is wrong with the pets that they get. Their goal is to give them love and comfort for whatever amount of time they have left in this world. “Animals live in the moment. They don’t worry about tomorrow so if we can give them even one day out of the shelter surrounded by love, that is a success for us,” Katherine noted. When it comes to what qualifies a pet to be considered a hospice pet, Katherine said that in some instances the guidelines can be hard to define. If an animal has been diagnosed with a cancer that can’t be treated, kidney failure or another terminal illness, deciding that it needs hospice care is fairly clear cut. Aging pets can also qualify for hospice care. However, Katherine said that the tougher cases are when it isn’t obvious what is wrong with a pet. “Medical tests can be inconclusive. Sometimes pets just need 26 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

time. We had one cat that wouldn’t eat at the shelter and was pulling all her hair out. We brought her home and syringe-fed her for almost a month. Finally, we decided that it was time to let her go. We packed her in the car and she sat on my lap all the way to the vet, wagging her tail and purring. When we got to the vet, we decided it wasn’t her time after all. A few days later she started eating and is now — three years later — an overweight cat with an attitude,” Nelson recalled. While fostering any pet means an inevitable good-bye, fostering a special needs or hospice pet means a good-bye that might come sooner than anticipated.

“The hardest part of fostering an ill pet is that you try so hard to help them get better,” Katherine said. “Sometimes you just don’t want to let go but we also don’t want to see them suffer. We just want one more day.” One of their more difficult foster pets was a puppy named Oscar who came to the shelter when he was 6-weeks-old after being attacked by rats in a barn and developing an infection. “The infection in his little body was so overwhelming,” Katherine said. “We worked with him for months. I sat up with

him at night and just held him when he had a rough day.” Oscar lost his fight but the Nelsons said he brought a great deal of joy to their family during the short time that they had him. “I guess every time we lose a hospice pet we are just so glad that we could make their short life a little happier and more comfortable,” she said. M

PREVIOUS PAGE Judi Wendt and Gibbs, a dog she is fostering until he finds a home. BELOW Katherine Nelson and Sheba, a cat Nelson originally took for hospice care. After a little love and attention, however, Sheba made a complete recovery and now lives with the Nelsons permanently.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 27

TOP LEFT Chris Austin at the 2012 U.S. National Peruvian Horse Show in Ft. Worth, Texas. His horse is Comandante EC. | Don Stine Photography ABOVE Darla, Chris and Aura Austin along with Danielle Yungerberg show off their Peruvians. | BrynMawr Photography

Austin family breeds, shows elegant, naturally gaited Peruvian breed By Jean Lundquist


ad always made sure we had a pony,” Darla Austin said, explaining how her passion for horses began. “One time, we loaded seven kids, plus mom and dad in the ’59 Chevy, and we came home with a pony on the floor of the back seat. We didn’t have a trailer.” Although her husband is terribly allergic to horses, Darla and Lynn Austin settled in the country, and Darla’s want of a horse returned. First, it was ponies and horses for her children, Chris and Danielle. When Chris began helping a neighbor with her horse chores, he was smitten by Peruvian breed he and his little sister cared for. It is these same Peruvians that now, decades later, the whole family raises, breeds, shows, competes with and just plain enjoys. “They are amazing horses,” Chris said. “Their temperament is more in line with a dog than you’d expect to find in a horse.” “Their willingness to please is different from any other 28 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

horse,” added Chris’ wife, Aura. At an open house the Austins hosted last summer, Chris and Aura’s 6-year-old daughter put on her helmet, and rode Chris’ stallion, Comandante EC, around the arena all by herself. Not many stallions are that trustworthy, Chris said, but the Peruvians are. While their temperament is a big draw for the Austins and other Peruvian horse enthusiasts, it’s their gait that first draws attention. “They are the only naturally gaited horse,” Chris said. “One hundred percent of their offspring have the natural gait.” The gait of a Peruvian is very smooth and steady. To explain what that means, Chris told the story at the open house that many years ago, he saw the top of his sister’s head and thought she was on an ATV or lawnmower. “Her head wasn’t moving up and down at all – just very steady,” he said. Turns out, she was riding her horse. In part because of this smooth gait, the Austins decided to

LOWER RIGHT Aura Austin with her award-winning gelding, Coronel EC. | BrynMawr Photography breed the horses with baby boomers in mind. “I have a friend who could not take riding a horse anymore because of physical pain. But she can ride a Peruvian because there is no jarring,” Aura said. “For an aging population that loves horses, that is a huge factor,” Darla added. The barns at the Austin ranch began modestly. First there was a three-stall barn. Then, a second barn added a few more stalls. The third barn, connected to both others, includes a fullsized arena and a viewing room. The viewing room was intended to allow Lynn to watch his family practice and perform while protecting him from the horse dander to which he’s so allergic. Soon, the room became a place to display the many ribbons won in competition. But after a while, the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-place ribbons were all packed away to make room for all the first-place and championship ribbons the family has won. The Austins can’t say how many ribbons are on display, let alone how many are packed away, or even how many boxes those ribbons fill. There are just too many. And now, Chris has gone from winning ribbons to judging competitions. In 2013, Chris was the breeding and performance judge at the North American Peruvian Horse Association show held in October in Burbank, Calif. “Chris is very humble about it, but this was a really big deal, to be chosen to be the judge,” Aura said. In fact, he took the position so seriously that he and Aura travelled to Peru last summer so he could see how shows there are judged. “What better place to see how the people who created the breed judge the breed?” he said. “Aura is fluent in Spanish, so it was a good trip, even though we spent 95 percent of our time at the arena and didn’t see much else of the country.”

Although their animals are national champions and masters in the ring, the Austins also consider their Peruvian horses to be pets. They perform in the arena, perform as a drill team, and go on trail rides with the family. The trail rides are something Lynn can even participate in. “Because of his allergies, he has to be in the lead, though. He can’t bring up the rear,” Darla said. M MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 29

Coming Attractions: February Jan. 30- Feb. 2 & 5-9 -MSU Theatre: “Kiss of the Spider Woman” 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m Sunday and second Saturday -Andreas Theatre, Minnesota State University -- $22 regular, $19 seniors and youth (16 and under), $15 MSU students -- -507-389-6661 Jan. 31- Feb. 22 -Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Festival Waseca -- -For full schedule of events see page 21 Jan. 31-Feb. 9 -- Winterfest citywide, St. Peter -- Polar Plunge, Waffle Breakfast, and more 1-2 & 7-8 -- Bethany Choraliers present: Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Grand Duke” 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday -- 2 p.m. Sunday -- Sigurd K. Lee Theater, Bethany Lutheran College -507-344-7374 6 -- MSU Performance Series: Mary Jane Alm with Boyd Lee 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 MSU students -507-389-5549

30 • February 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

8 -- MSU Performance Series: The Sena Ehrhardt Band 8 p.m. -- Hooligans, Madison East Center, Mankato -- $10 advance, $12 day of show --507-389-5549 9 -- Mankato Symphony Orchestra: Songs About Rainbows 3 p.m. -- Mankato West High School -1351 S. Riverfront Drive, Mankato -$15 Bronze, $20 Silver, $25 Gold -507-625-8880 9 -- MSU Performance Series: The Chastity Brown Band 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $15 general, $13 MSU students -507-389-5549 10 -- Gustavus: Kate Boyd Piano Recital 7:30-9:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- Free -507-933-7013 11 -- MSU Performance Series: The Barley Jacks with Brian Wicklund 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $15 general, $13 MSU students -507-389-5549 12 -- Welcome to Minnesota Tour starting Atmosphere 7 p.m. -- Verizon Wireless Center -$23 -- -800-745-3000

16 -- MSU Performance Series: The New Standards 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $15 general, $13 MSU students -507-389-5549 20 -- Good Thunder Reading Series: Peter Hautman and Alex Lemon 3 p.m. Talk on Craft -- 7:30 p.m. Reading -- Centennial Student Union, Minnesota State University -- free 20 -- MSU Performance Series: Victor Wainright 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 MSU students -507-389-5549 20-22 & 27-March 2 -MSU Theatre: “As You Like It” 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and second Saturday -Ted Paul Theatre, Minnesota State University $16 regular, $14 seniors and youth 16 and under, $11 MSU students -- -507-389-6661 21-23 & 28-March 2 -Gustavus Theatre: “Hair” 10:30 p.m. Friday & Saturday -- 4:30 p.m. Sunday -- Anderson Theatre, Gustavus Adolphus College -- $9 adults, $7 seniors and students, 1 free to Gustavus students -- 507-933-7590

22 -- Baby and Kids Expo 9 a.m.-2 p.m. -- Verizon Wireless Center -- free 22 -- The Tombstone Trio Brewery Party 6 p.m. -- Mankato Brewery -1119 Center St., North Mankato

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23 -- MSU Performance Series: Gregory Partain 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 MSU students -507-389-5549 25 -- MSU Performance Series: Concert Bands 7:30 p.m. -- Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $9 general, $7 MSU students -507-389-5549 27 -- Jason Jaspersen Art Lecture and Reception 7-8 p.m. -- Ylvisaker Fire Arts Center Gallery, Bethany Lutheran College 28 -- The Band Perry concert 7:30 p.m. -- Verizon Wireless Center -$39.75 and $29.75 -- 800-745-3000 28 -- Gustavus: Bach & Jazz: The Bach Society of Minnesota 7:30-9:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- $12 adults, $9 seniors and students, 1 free to Gustavus students -- 507-933-7590

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 31

That’s Life By Nell Musolf

A Musolf by any other name I

grew up in a suburb of Chicago that had at that time a population of about 6,000 people. Of those 6,000 people were approximately 2,0003,000 moms and dads who named their female offspring normal names like Debbie, Susan and Linda — regular names that people could spell and pronounce. Instead my parents, fresh out of ideas after two previous daughters, named me Nell after my maternal grandmother. I was never too fond of my name, especially on the days when our class had a substitute teacher who invariably called me “Neil” instead of “Nell” and who then almost always made me stand up and spell my name for her, true torture for an introvert. But at least I had a regular last name—Johnson, the second most common surname in America. My first name might throw people for a loop but everyone knew how to pronounce Johnson. And then I met my future husband. Mark and I met when we were both working at a small department store. I liked him right off the bat and with typical female finesse, I did a little sleuthing to find out what his last name was (vital information for every girl with a crush). I was hoping for something more exotic than Johnson but I have to admit that my hopes were dashed when I saw his last name on his time card. It read: M-U-S-O-L-F. I squinted at it. What kind of name was that? It reminded me of something that might be randomly pulled up in a spoon while eating alphabet soup. But Mark was so cute that I overlooked his last name and forgave him for not having something dashing, like Remington or Van Halen for a surname. Besides, it wasn’t like we were going to get married or anything. At least, that’s what I thought until a year zipped past and I found myself getting a new driver’s license card and going from having a first name that was regularly mangled when I ordered a pizza over the phone to a last name that was mangled before I even gave it. “M U what?” I began to hear, a refrain that would be repeated over and over and over. Within days of becoming Mrs. Musolf, I learned the drill. “M as in Mary. U. S as in Sam. O. L. F as in Frank,” I patiently recited only to have the person I was spelling to write down Moose-off or Muzkov or Musil. A few years after we were married, Mark received a letter from another Musolf living in South Dakota who was doing some genealogy research and wanted to know if they might be related. Letters went back and forth for a few months before they finally concluded that the Illinois Musolf clan wasn’t related to the South Dakota Musolfs. In one of his last exchanges, Mark asked the South Dakota Musolf if he knew what Musolf meant. The response he got was not 32 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

heartwarming. Musolf, the South Dakota non-relative informed us, meant “dwellers of the bog.” “Dwellers of the bog? What kind of crappy definition is that?” Mark asked. “What does that mean — my ancestors really lived in a bog? How would that even be possible? Don’t you suffocate if you fall into a bog? And how would they ever have gotten out of it to move to America?” Being a dweller of the bog by marriage only, I merely shrugged and the meaning of our last name was mercifully dropped and rarely mentioned until the day our son Hank came home with exciting news. “Hey, Dad,” he told Mark, “I found out that our last name doesn’t mean ‘dwellers of the bog!’” Mark looked at him warily. “How’d you find that out?” “I looked it up on the Internet.” “Then what does Musolf mean?” I questioned. Hank stood up proudly. “Spirit of the wolf,” he announced, “or ‘wolf spirit.’ Either, I guess.” Mark’s entire face lit up. “’Spirit of the wolf?’” he repeated. “How cool is that? Wolf spirit! I think that’s much more fitting. I feel a lot more like a wolf spirit than a bog dweller.” It was like he’d been given a new lease on life. Now whenever he orders a pizza, Mark patiently spells our name before adding a touch gratuitously, “It means ‘wolf spirit,” just in case the order taker at Dominos was wondering. Dweller of the bog, wolf spirit, whatever. Just as long as he remembers to order extra cheese on that pizza the people at Dominos can call us anything they want. M

Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.



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Now: Pet

names By Jean Lundquist

Pet names M

From Raccoons to Pumas, Mankato mascots have animal inspiration

ascots in all Mankato area schools are animals, with two exceptions: Loyola Catholic Schools students are Crusaders; Mankato West students are the Scarlets. Neither is an animal, though a big red bear lurks mysteriously in the history of Mankato High School, and now, Mankato West. On a Facebook page called “Mankato Memories,” several former students recall a fluffy, white teddy bear mascot, or a large, red bear as the mascot. Wrote Gary Dubke, “Mike Lagow was the last person to my knowledge to wear the ‘bear’ costume and assist the cheerleaders during football and basketball games. That was in 197576.” Although never official, Kay Menton recalls another animal called to service for the school, writing, “Yeah it was a bear but in other things they would use a red panther for printing things up.”

When Mankato East opened in 1973-’74, students and staff voted on a school mascot, and the Cougars were born. Principal Jeff Dahline wasn’t there for the vote, but he said four or five choices were presented, and the cougar won. East Activities Director Todd Waterbury oversees the students who volunteer to wear the Cougar mascot costume now. “The mascot used to be a regular part of the cheer squad, when we had one. Now, we have volunteers who wear it.” Three Mankato schools have chosen to be Eagles. They are Central, Dakota Meadows and Eagle Lake Elementary. However, the Eagle Lake schools adapted the mascot a bit, and are known as the Eaglets. Washington Elementary students are the Wildcats. “Goldie” is a large orange/gold cat who performs in a video on the school’s website. His goal is to show students how NOT to behave, then how TO behave. In the first part of the video, Goldie cuts in line, swings his backpack, and is generally disrespectful to fellow students and staff alike. In the second half, Goldie shows students how to line up, follow rules and behave respectfully. Rosa Parks students are Pumas, with a feline footprint behind the name “Puma,” while Roosevelt Elementary students are Raccoons. Recently, Roosevelt Principal Ann Hagerty said the students voted to name the Raccoon “Rocky.” “‘Rocky’ won over other names overwhelmingly,” Haggerty said. He joins students and their parents at monthly school celebrations, fundraisers, carnivals and at kindergarten roundup. “He’s very friendly looking, and he’s very important – he’s a big deal to elementary-aged students.” To personify Rocky, Hagerty sought out the services of a local costume maker, the same one who had designed the Falcons costume for Franklin Elementary School. On the Franklin website, the fiercelooking falcon is gripping the word “Franklin” in its talons. Jefferson Elementary students are jaguars, and their school website features a realistic depiction of the spotted cat. Hoover Elementary students are huskies, and Garfield Elementary students are Grizzlies. Kennedy Elementary School’s cub has fierce claws and

Roosevelt Elementary’s mascot, Rocky the Raccoon. | Photo courtesy of Ann Haggerty 34 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

sharp teeth while Monroe Elementary’s mustang is shown running at full gallop, leaving contrails in its wake. Bridges Community School students are the Bears. But at Bridges, they have sub-categories for their students. Kindergarten students are the Cubs. First- and second-grade students are the Explorers. Third- and fourth-grade students are Adventurers, and fifthand sixth-grade students are Investigators. Minnesota State University teams today are known as the Mavericks, but that was not always the case. According to Paul Allan, assistant athletic director-communications, the Mavericks were the Indians until 1977. He provided this narrative of how the change came about: “The old name, ‘Indians,’ was dropped for several reasons, the main objection coming from Native Americans. Another reason was that the school had switched conferences, joining the Northern Intercollegiate Conference (NIC) and it was felt that it was a good time for a fresh start. Douglas Moore, MSU’s president at the time, asked University Relations Director John Hodowanic to begin working on changing the nickname and a group composed of interested students, faculty and alumni brainstormed in coming up with a list of nearly 75 suggestions. The name ‘Mavericks,’ originally suggested by MSU education professor Roy Cook, was ultimately chosen over other candidates such as ‘Muskies’ and ‘Lightning.’” Allan says the Mavericks were originally portrayed as horses but became a steer at the suggestion of President Moore. “Moore maintained that the design too closely resembled the “Golden Mustang” used by Southwest State — another NIC school. Eventually Moore, a native of Texas, suggested it be changed to a steer. It may have had something to do with the many Maverick longhorn steer in the Lone Star state, but the idea stuck and was accepted.” Stomper, MSU’s bull mascot, was named later. “The name Stomper first came along in the late 1980s from an on-campus “name the mascot” contest.” M

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What’s Cooking By Sarah Johnson

Feasts fit for fur and feather I

’ve cooked plenty of food that was only fit for dogs accidentally, but this trend of cooking for your pets on purpose left me puzzled at first. With so many conveniently bagged and canned dog foods available, why would anyone want to fuss with chopping vegetables and sauteing chicken and washing up the dishes? I can barely accomplish that for my human dependents. And lest you think dogs suddenly have developed discerning palates, here’s a partial list of what my dogs have eaten recently: • Tennis balls • Chocolate (apparently not a lethal amount) • An entire box of “Be Mine” candy hearts from last Valentine’s Day, including the box • Chicken bones (apparently not a lethal amount) • Alarming amounts of grass, considering they’re carnivores • A matchbook • Dead birds, and really dead flat birds • Vick’s VapoRub (apparently not a lethal amount) Obviously I’m not going to win any Dog Owner of the

For the dog ...

Squirrel ‘N’ Rice If you feel your dog would finally like to get a taste of those squirrels that have been outrunning him his entire life, try this: 4 squirrels* (cleaned and cut into pieces) 2 cups rice Salt, pepper, garlic

Place the squirrels in a large pot and cover with water. Season with a little salt, pepper and garlic. Bring to a boil and cook about an hour or until the meat starts to come off the bones. Remove the squirrel and allow to cool. De-bone meat and cut into small chunks. Cook the rice in the broth until almost done, adding more water as needed. Add the meat into the rice. Continue to cook until rice is done. *Feel free to substitute poultry, beef or pork if squirrel is not easily available. 36 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Year awards. And just as obviously, dogs are not particularly finicky about their meals. So why cook for dogs? Some people do it for their dog’s health issues. Some dogs, for various reasons, do better on special diets that include raw or cooked “human” foods. And other pet owners just plain do it for L-O-V-E. That’s right, when our dogs hit us with those beggin’ eyes as we’re spooning up our evening stew, many of us are unable to resist sharing just a bite. Or two. Or 10. But we know that “people food” is not healthy for our beasts – too much fat, too much salt -- so we feel guilty. Cooking pet-friendly recipes alleviates that guilt. Love makes people do crazy things, and while cooking for our pets may seem a little silly, it’s not the silliest by a long shot. Seeing that tail wag or hearing that satisfied purr makes it all worthwhile, a little payback for the love they give us too. Anybody seen my squirrel gun? I’ve got supper to fix. M

Sarah Johnson is a cook, freelance writer and chocolate addict from North Mankato with three grown kids and a couple of mutts.

For the cat ...

Catnip Crackers

Let’s not leave out our feline friends. They adore these gourmet (and healthy) treats that are fun and easy to make: 3/4 cup flour 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 2 tablespoons dried catnip (available at pet shops and in pet aisle at most supermarkets) 1/2 cup yogurt 1 egg 1 tablespoon honey 3 tablespoons vegetable oil Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flours and catnip together. Stir in yogurt, egg, honey and vegetable oil. Press out dough on a floured surface and cut into tiny treats using a cookie cutter or pizza wheel. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for up to three months.

For the birds ...

Honey Banana Birdie Bites

Birds love treats, too, and can spend hours amusing themselves with food. Try these Birdie Bites to perk up your avian friend’s routine: • 2 bananas • 1 egg • 1/4 cup honey • 3 tablespoons banana (or other fruit) baby food • 1/4 cup millet, oats or chopped almonds • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Grease a large cookie sheet with vegetable oil and set aside. Peel both bananas and slice them into discs. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the egg (crumbled shells optional), honey and baby food. Dip banana discs into the mixture and place on the cookie sheet. Once you have all the discs in place, top them with millet, oats or chopped almonds. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, and then let cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator.

For furry critters ...

Hamster Bites

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Our littlest furballs deserve a treat now and again, too. Small animals like hamsters and gerbils will do backflips for Hamster Bites: Half a banana Some crushed cereal A few oats Finely chopped apple or carrot First, mush up the banana and add the oats and cereal and fruit. Roll into small balls, the right size for your hamster to hold. Put the balls into the fridge to harden slightly.

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Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

ECFE Craft Fair 1. Jennifer Rath of Mankato selling her handmade baby items at the craft fair. 2. Caricature artist Jeff Mackie in the middle of a drawing for a customer at the craft fair. 3. Brandon Robinson of Owatonna came to Mankato to visit family and to attend the craft fair. 4. Tiffany Drummer and Britany Schaible (right) with her California Castaway jewelry items. 5. Leah Macgregor of Eagle Lake selling her jewelery. 6. Deb Anderson of North Mankato looking at a fleece baby item. 2 7. Mother-son duo Benjamin Busse and Melinda of Rapidan selling items from Melinda’s Star Bright Designs collection. 8. Christie Nelson and her son, Max, selling dog bow ties under the business name Fido’s First Date. 9. Reanna Manthe (left) of Mankato and Cassie Noble of Owatonna posing for a photo behind their booth at the craft fair.









MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 41

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Betsy Tacy Christmas 1. Julie Schrader has written many books about Betsy and Tacy and was at the Christmas party to mingle with guests and sign her books. 2. A picture frame helps decorate a beautiful tree in Tacy’s house. 3. Filling up the tiny dining room, visitors stop by Betsy’s house to learn about her history and what Christmas was like in that era. 4. A guest book at the entrance to Tacy’s house welcomes visitors to leave their mark. 5. Staying in character, Halle Blais (left) portraying Tib, and Leah Klammer, playing Betsy, string popcorn to decorate their tree. 6. Dressed in what Tib, Betsy’s friend, would have worn, Halley Blais takes on her role wholeheartedly.






42 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix 1

Kiwanis Holiday Lights 1. Santa’s house drew hundreds of visitors while the park was open. 2. Large Christmas-themed displays could be found throught the park, whether walking or driving. 3. The Mary Dotson Skating Rink was a new addition to the Kiwanis Holiday Lights this year. 4. A driving tunnel synced with music on your car radio was a big hit at the Kiwanis Holiday Lights this year. 5. A view of the park from the train tracks shows just how many lights fill the park.





MANKATO MAGAZINE • february 2014 • 43




By Pete Steiner

Letters of the Greatest Generation


ven in the midst of a bitter winter stretch, serendipity happens. Simple things to lift your spirit. My cousin gave us a bound book of letters our grandfather had written to sons, Bob and Dick, while they were serving in the South Pacific during World War II. The series of 50 letters began in 1943, and it has given me insights into J.A. Lloyd that I never had while he was alive. Then, paging through a book my dad had kept in his reading stand, I came upon a letter he had written the day WWII ended. Letters retain the fragrance of the soul. E-mail and texting, today’s preferred methods of written communication, do not. Unless you’re an FBI investigator, you probably regard e-mail as fungible, so susceptible to the delete key that it’s doubtful anyone will re-read them 70 years from now. But perusing written family heirlooms, I felt like I was suddenly in a room with their authors again, hearing them speak. The letters also serve to remind us that even during a conflict as monumental as WWII, life went on on the home front. •••• Letters from home were crucial for troop morale during the long years of the Second World War. My grandfather, whom everyone called “Jab,” dictated the series of letters to his secretary, Ida Enstead. A lumberman who also operated a farm near Judson, Jab’s registered Guernseys each had a name. Farmers may enjoy this letter to his sons, dated Oct. 16, 1943: “‘Little Honey’, with her first calf, is now giving 36 lbs. of milk a day. … We won’t be picking our corn until the latter part of this month. … This week I should market at least 8 pigs … that average 350 lbs. … I want to tile the low places down where the willows are. …” That same day, he mentioned local pilot Arne Wornson was missing in the European theater; of course, he would later emerge alive from the French underground. Remember, this was fall of 1943, and the war would grind on another 19 months in Europe, nearly two more years in the Pacific. But after two years of U.S. involvement, my grandfather wrote optimistically, “the war news has been very good. … If England, Russia, and the U..S can settle the difficulties that confront them diplomatically, I feel positive that the European war will be over before very long.” Still, there was worry: “We surely are anxious to know where you are. … We have our maps (of the South Pacific) pretty near worn out.” •••• My grandfather comes across as an astute businessman who liked to send encouraging news to his boys. Looking to the future, he wrote in one letter, “I have so many ideas … about the lumber business. … Save every single dime you can, that’s the banker’s first consideration … you have to have the wherewithal. … There is nothing that can stop us if we really set our minds to it. … The ambitious, smart

44 • february 2014 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

merchandiser is the boy that will reap the harvest in this post-war building boom.” By midsummer, a month after D-day, Jab would write, “I don’t see how the war in Europe can last much longer, as they have this boy Hitler cornered from all sides. … You fellows in the Pacific are surely doing a marvelous job … progress … better than anticipated.” Yet, war in the Pacific would grind on for 14 more months. •••• My dad, who had been dating Mickee Lloyd since ninth grade, had come home on leave in September 1944. Of the Marine officer who would soon ship out to Honolulu and then Iwo Jima, his future father-in-law would write, “(Bill) looks like a million dollars and is really in fine shape.” Six months later, a full month after the Fourth Marine Division landed on Iwo, my grandfather would write his sons regarding Mickee’s sweetheart, “… have not heard from Bill Steiner as yet, but am presuming they will be able to get some mail out of Iwo Jima before long. He must have gotten by or they would have heard.” Finally, after six weeks incommunicado, on March 21, Mickee received a “V-mail” from Bill saying he was OK. •••• The letter from my father is postmarked Sept. 3, 1945, U.S. Navy, San Francisco. It had also been stamped, “passed by Naval censor.” It was addressed to Mr. Louis Todnem, longtime coach at Mankato High. Coach Todnem apparently returned it to my dad some 40 years later, saying, “it might bring back memories.” Written on four pages of thin, crinkly stationery, it began, “Dear Mr. Todnem, I imagine I’ll surprise you … dropping you these few unexpected lines. … I imagine you … were just as thrilled as we out here at the sudden end of the war. … Up till now every thought of mine and of my men has been directed toward war. … (Now) we may get home (by) Christmas. … Since we returned from Iwo Jima we have formed a battalion basketball team that is a crackerjack. Our ace is (former Illinois whiz kid and future NBA star) Andy Phillip. … We have won 53 straight games. … I was a forward observer with a … pack howitzer battalion (on Iwo). It was a rough go … but thanks to God I was practically unscathed … I have seen how terrible war can be. I don’t want any more of it ever. One can’t imagine how horrible it is unless he sees it, and then he can’t believe it.” My dad finally made it back home in mid-January. He immediately proposed to Mickee. Less than two weeks later, on a frigid Jan. 26, 1946, they married. The cold of that January hardly bothered them at all. M Pete Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.

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