Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day

My Dad as a boy
Its Father's Day this Sunday.  I'm not sure when the last time was that I was able to spend Father's Day with my dad, but again this year I'll be in Nunavut and he'll be in Alberta.  I especially enjoy hearing my dad tell stories about what it was like growing up in Saskatchewan during the "Dirty Thirties".

Dad, An Indian Motorcycle and Tiny Dog
My dad has always been an animal lover.  If you find a picture of him where he's not petting a dog or riding a horse, its because he's holding a guitar.  While I was growing up, Dad and I would drive from the farm to Innisfail to take in the Odd and Unusual Livestock Auction every Thanksgiving and Easter.  Late one night on the long drive home, with a half tonne truck full of goats, llamas and pot-bellied pigs he told me about a pair of pet coyotes that he raised from pups when he was a boy.

He raised them as pets, but had to keep them chained up in the yard because they couldn't be trusted around the chickens.  They didn't like sleeping above ground, instead they dug a hole in the yard and slept down there.  Judging from these photos they were very tame.  Unfortunately one of the pups got strangled up in the chain going down into its den and didn't get a chance to grow up.  The second pup grew up and was a loyal friend to my dad.  Eventually it earned a little bit of trust and was allowed to spend time off leash.

But the leash was for its own protection as much as the other farm animals.  There was a bounty on coyotes at the time, with the Province paying $2 for a pair of dead coyote ears.  It was a dangerous time to be a coyote in southern Saskatchewan.  In the dark, in the truck, my dad told me about the day his pet coyote was running and playing in the prairie just south of his parent's farm.  A car drove by the farm and past the coyote. Dad watched the car with some concern.  It slowed, stopped, and starting backing up when the driver spotted the coyote.  Without any fear of people, the coyote stood and watched the car approach. My dad knew about the bounty and ran to his bicycle and started peddling down the road, bawling and yelling at the driver to stop, but he was too late.  The driver shot his coyote.

My Dad with two of his 7 siblings
My dad got real quiet as he was telling the story and I knew he was sad at remembering his lost friend.  I could picture the whole tragic story in my mind's eye, and it felt like my Dad was that heart-broken little boy with his streaked, dusty cheeks running into the field and scooping up his limp friend all over again.  The cab of the truck stayed very quiet for a several moments.

But then Dad bounced back and said; "I got two bucks for the ears, though!"

Happy Father's Day!

(Lori said this story was too sad for a Father's day post, but I mailed a printed version of this post to my dad and we talked about it on the phone.  He couldn't remember the whole episode, but when I reminded him about it, he was still pretty impressed that the guy in the car gave him the ears.  I think he's had time to get over it.)

Photo Credits: Rast Family Photos


  1. That's a great story!
    I guess $2 was alot for a boy in those days!

  2. You just made me cry. Great story, though.

  3. That story is so touching and heart-wrenching. I will say that I doubt the $2 "gift" really made him feel any better. Great story Tim. Your Dad is obviously a very special person.


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