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Today is October 4, 2022

Grin 'n' Bare It

King of the hill

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

    Thank you for your concern about Mr. Roy. Mack, his blue heeler (also called an Australian cattle dog), passed away in October. Many of you offered to give him a blue heeler, and we are grateful for strangers who understand the love humans have for their pets. Also thank you for the letters and stories you sent about your pets.
     Today I have good news and unpleasant news to tell you. The good news first, of course: We now have a 3-and-a-half-month-old blue heeler, whose name is Little Mack. Allen Davis from Lucedale called as soon as he read my column in Today in Mississippi and offered the puppy to Mr. Roy. We adopted him at first sight. He was small, mostly white with black undertones and irresistible.
     Now Little Mack is large, mostly black with white undertones and irresistible... when he’s asleep or we’re watching him from afar.
     Like so many other things in our lives, we say bring it on, what’s the harm? Well, folks here’s the true story. When we adopted Big Mack he was 2 years old. Someone had trained him—I understand this now. He was intelligent. He came when called, understood the commands no, sit, down, go get in your bed. He never dreamed of digging up the yard. He never jumped up on us or friends. Little Mack jumps, bites too hard playing and is as strong as a bull already. I take one step and he tackles me.
     Mr. Roy said, “We should have researched blue heeler puppy behavior.”
     “You say that now? After telling me I don’t ‘read-up’ on a product before I buy?” I answered sharply.
     “Well, you bought that robot vacuum cleaner that does nothing but make circles in one place,” he said.
     I frowned. “It picks up a few things.”
     He muttered, “You wasted all that money planting flowers that only grow in the north. You should have researched or asked Billy Tilley, our flower expert.”
   “Okay, mister,” I said, “Let’s hire her to plant our flowers and you pay!”
     There was nothing to do but take Little Mack to school. We did just that for six sessions and he learned one word: sit. And then only if he smells treats in your pocket. Little Mack says, “No treat, no sit.” Then he lunges at your legs or bites your hand or nose.
     A month ago I decided all he needed was tender loving care, so I put him in the swing with me on the back porch and pulled him to my lap. I began my usual singing that I croon when we get new animals. “I’ve got a home in glory land that’ll outshine the....”
     He was so excited to be in my lap and hear me sing that he lifted his head up to kiss my face, but instead he bit through my ear. I took a round of antibiotics and had a tetanus shot. He has torn two of my nice sweaters and bitten holes in three pairs of Jones New York jeans, which were Christmas gifts from relatives. His owner, Mr. Roy, didn’t offer to pay the expense for new clothes. He just said, “Little Mack will grow out of his puppy stage. Oh, look! Isn’t he cute chasing Molly to the top of the pine tree.”
     I adopted Molly (black, with a tad of white) from the veterinarian as a kitten 16 months ago. A month ago a solid white cat moved into the oak tree near the tree house. Oakley is a young cat, and like Molly, Oakley had to have a hysterectomy. My other two cats, 13-year-old females, aren’t happy with their two new sisters. Feeding time is stressful. I feed the older cats together then Molly in a different place and Oakley in a different place. Mr. Roy takes his big, strong male dog for a walk to distract him from chasing them.
     At this moment Little Mack is King of Fig Farm Hill. If he wasn’t so cute and innocent I would get angry. I’ll not take a chance with my baby, Sugar—who sleeps at the foot of our bed—and let her in the yard with the King, not until his crown falls off and he’s just one of the bunch.     
     I will admit, if Mr. Roy’s happy, I’m happy. If he can put up with my cats, wrecks, stumbles and complaints, I’ve got a good man.
     Footnote: Things could be worse with Little Mack. Our friends Lee and Beverly Hedegaard have a blue heeler puppy named Jack that can tear through hard plastic, anything made of rubber, and does a pretty good job on metal and wood. But that's a story for another time.

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