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Today is October 4, 2022

Grin 'n' Bare It

What Mack taught Mr. Roy

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

    I haven't been up to writing this column because it is an emotional topic for Roy and me. I finally asked him to tell me from his heart what Mack, our Australian sheep dog, commonly called a blue heeler, meant to him. Mack was Roy's outdoor companion.
    It was a tough task, since Mr. Roy hasn’t been able to talk about Mack since he passed away over a month ago. Those who have a special love for their animals will understand.
    It all began in 2000, just before Thanksgiving. In fact you may remember I wrote a column called “A Man and His Dog,” soon after Mack settled in with us. I included it in my book. The dog came to us in poor condition. He appeared to have been hit by a car. Roy took him to our local veterinarian and asked him to fix the dog up and find him a good home.
    The tide changed when the vet said that he was a good dog, a blue heeler, and was about 2 years old. He said the heeler could have fallen out of a truck. The vet put a collar and tag on him. So my partner brought him back home. On the way he said to the dog, “I think you look like a Mack.” That name stuck.
    For a week or so we nursed him back to health and fell in love with him. He seemed to understand everything we said. During this time we tried to find his owner.
Well, as soon Mack got well he disappeared. Roy was sad, but he thought he probably went back to his original home. However, a woman called who lived a couple of miles from us on Fig Farm Road. She said the collar had our phone number and the dog was sitting on the side of the road, watching every vehicle that passed.
    We brought him back to our house, but he continued to go back to the same spot each time we brought him home. We guessed that was where his original owner had left him. Finally, we gave up, when the woman said she’d feed him.
    The day before Christmas of 2000 Roy opened the back door and there sat Mack. His eyes were saying, would you give me one more chance?
    And we did. Roy and I loved him and he loved us for 12 years. Below, I have written what Roy told me Mack taught him:
    Mack wasn’t just a dog, he was one of my best friends; we had a special bond and he taught me some important lessons about life. He taught me by his loyalty and love that friends and family are so important. Even when they don’t act the way we think they should, we need to be patient, loyal and loving. On days when I thought I was too busy to spend time with Mack, he would still look at me and grin (he could truly grin from ear to ear) and wag that stub of a tail.
    He taught me that everyone needs a job to do, that they want to do it properly and need to be appreciated for their work. Since I had sold my cows before Mack came to live with us, he took on the task of taking care of our cats and kept an eye on us. He tried his best to keep us safe. The cats adored Mack, even though he would scold them if they got out of line. They are still grieving his death, as we are.
    He was unselfish, not jealous of anyone or other animals who passed through our lives. Over the 12 years Mack was with us, we kept an inside dog. Mack loved each of these pets (Dixie Belle and Sugar) and would greet them every morning with a kiss. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we humans had no jealousy or envy of other people?
    The loss of Mack has also made me more aware of how hard our pets love us. They don’t expect much, but a few kind words and a few loving pats every day. That means a lot to them.
    When we fed Mack, he never took a bite before he looked directly at us. He waited for us to say, “That’s Mack’s dinner,” before he began eating. I also thought he was thanking us before he ate. 
    We miss you Mack, and I know without a doubt that when we get to heaven and see the Rainbow Bridge, you will be standing there with a grin from ear to ear. Then you will give us several loud barks to say, “Isn’t this great...we can be together for eternity.”


Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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