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Goodbye Old Boy

Posted 1/15/2016 8:59am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

It appears I only get around to blogging when I have to say goodbye or express some mild frustration we experience with farming. All autumn I meant to write about the resurrection of our trusty blue Subaru. On the recommendation of a friend, we found a used, low-mileage engine, and viola, our old, familiar Subaru is back in business. 

I wish there was a way to resurrect the friend we say goodbye to this week. 

Yesterday our dear Mac was hit by a van and killed. It was not as you might expect since we live along a rural highway; this accident took place at our neighbor's farm, where Mac was visiting his friend. (Not to worry, his friend is spade. And they were friends; it was obvious when they played together that they were having fun.) Anyway, while there, the dogs ran to greet a van pulling in the long driveway. The driver slowed... perhaps too slow, maybe Mac thought it was stopping. I don't know. He was hit. It appeared to be a very quick end. For that we are grateful.

Mac.... Mac was intense from the time we brought him home as a puppy in the back of our old Volvo wagon. He was bred and bought to work sheep. The first time we took him to the barn, he crouched low and focused in on our feral chickens roaming around. Clearly he had a lot of work to do on this farm. It wasn't long till he was using that same powerful eye on the sheep, willing them to do his bidding. 

Roy and Mac became quite a team. Roy the novice trainer; Mac the responsive puppy. The two of them never achieved the serene command of the flock we've all seen in the movie Babe, but Mac and Roy working together changed the way we operate the farm. Over time we depended on Mac to move the flock anywhere on the farm, even a mile down the power line to pastures we rented from a neighbor.

Mac was far more than a working dog though. He communicated with us; sometimes more clearly than we communicate with each other! Look at his eyes; they could read your expression, tone, and intent and communicate right back to you. 

When he felt he was not getting the respect he deserved, as was sometimes the case with young people, he'd bite them. After all, it worked with sheep. No, Mac was not perfect. He was a complex soul. Neurotically shifting from fawning for our attention to a throaty growl to get his way. We seemed to confuse him at times. He would sulk off to his pen in the shed when we would not allow him in the laundry after he'd been rolling in a found carcass or knee deep in muddy manure.

But what will we remember most of Mac was his eager willingness to work and play. Hide and seek, Frisbee, working sheep; he was all in, all the time. 

The vet told us at his last check that he was considered a senior dog. Sometimes he limped on his hind leg and he seemed content to lay about if there wasn't work or play to be had. We tell ourselves perhaps his early out saved him suffering down the road, but it's a small comfort. 

We miss you buddy. We'd have liked to have you grow old and cranky with us; you certainly earned the right. Thanks for the many fond memories.