Memorial for Mack

Mack – October 31, 2020

This memorial is difficult to write because there is so much to say. Today, we said good-bye to the last of our SFC dogs, Mack. Mack was a giant of a spirit. He was estimated to be at least 15 years old and he was with us for the past 12 years. Border Collies are dogs with special missions in life and Mack was no exception. So, if this memorial gets long, it is because his story is worthy of telling, and his life and the hearts he touched are immeasurable.

Mack was a complex dog. There was nothing easy or simple about him or his care. Yet, it is nearly a miracle that he lived and thrived with us for the past 12 years, given the complexity of his medical/health issues. And to be able to say that Mack literally died as a result of aging is an awesome accomplishment, on his part and on ours.

Mack did not live the normal life of a border collie. He was brought to our good friends at Glen Highland Farm Border Collie Rescue after he had been found running lost in the Adirondacks. Locals there said he had been seen for at least 6 months, but no one could catch him. Yet, the day he saw a car pull over near to where he was running, Mack understood intuitively that his ride was here to get him. A volunteer for the rescue was driving by and saw him and thought he looked lost. And after 6 months of running away from everyone, he decided to run to them. But Mack had great injuries from his life in the wilderness. Most likely hit by a car at one point, he had been rendered unable to use his back legs by the looks of the scars on his feet where he had been dragging them behind him for some time. But the fact was that he had a spinal fracture just at the base of his tail, and although he had use of his legs when found, he was totally bowel and bladder incontinent.

Mack was not a prospect for adoption. So, he came to live here at Spring Farm CARES. Thus embarked a 12 year career in teaching and touching hearts. Mack was strong willed. He was a true border collie in every way. He ran the show. In fact, to this day, our entire farm operation was based on Mack’s schedule. When the tractors could be driven, or the goats turned out, or when and where people were free to walk around where it wouldn’t interfere with Mack’s schedule. The whole farm ran on Mack time. Today, it is hitting all of us, just how much that was true.

Mack alerted us to every visitor. Some saw him as an annoying barking dog. Those people never saw Mack for who he was. And then, there were those, who truly understood this magnificent being with all of his interesting games in life. Mack’s mind never stopped. Because of his incontinence, he lived in a kennel that was set up in the main hall where he could have privacy yet be a part of everything. Because he insisted on being a part of it all. And he was. He had a beautiful dog yard where he could run free and play ball and frisbee and do all of the normal active things a young athletic border collie liked to do. From his yard, he could herd the tractor as it went by. He liked to herd the ducks out on walks. He was the man in charge.

And then, there were the people. HIS people. While many humans found Mack to be extremely difficult – and make no mistake he could be – there was a method to Mack’s entire being that took us a while to understand. But we finally did and we learned to move with Mack’s direction. In other words, he herded all of us too. You see, Mack picked his caretakers himself. There have been many animal caretakers here in the past 12 years. But only a select few became “Mack Walkers.” These were the people who Mack himself chose. It didn’t matter how much dog experience or lack of dog experience you had. We quickly learned that unless he was the one who chose them, he would not let anyone handle him or walk him. The Mack Walkers are like an exclusive club. And while they were all helping care for Mack, he was the one who actually was looking over them. Because Mack chose people not based on their work experience but based upon what he thought he could give to each of them. And while they took care of him, he was taking care of them.

There is no way we could list all of the Mack Walkers over the past 12 years and not be afraid we’d miss someone’s name. But many of you still follow us on the website and social media and are reading this now – you know who you are. On behalf of Mack, we thank each of you for all you gave to him. And we hope you treasure the gifts he left with each of you.

The silence in our big hall is deafening this morning. No border collie barking to let us know he’s there. He wasn’t there for his morning walk around with Bonnie as she did the early morning chores as they did together for 12 years. He wasn’t there to greet the staff as they arrived. But there is not a single one of us who couldn’t still feel him today in our hearts. His reach was massive. His mission was huge. His life was so well lived. Many looked at Mack and felt sorry for him that he lived in a kennel. But, none of us ever referred to that pen as a kennel. It was always called “Mack’s House.” And that is what it was. It was his safe place. His home. And his base of operations for all the work that he did. His happiness and contentment were palpable.

We knew he was failing these past few weeks. At 15, it was getting harder for him to get up and harder for him to walk. We all knew the time was coming to set him free. And all of us agonized over that pending day. This dog was so well loved. Deeply. Completely. Whole heartedly. And it was that love that helped guide us to listen to him one last time. Because it was clear that morning that Mack was tired. He was spent. He had eeked every ounce out of that body that he could have. But now, he needed to stand down and take a well-deserved rest. Mission accomplished. Job amazingly well done. What an amazing run. What an amazing spirit.

None of us wanted to say good-bye, but we all knew it was time. The light suddenly dimmed in his eyes. And it was our turn now to help him.

That’ll do Mack. That’ll do.

And with that, Mack ran free. Our hearts are breaking yet they are also filled with love and great memories. One border collie on a mission helped us to find our mission again too. And for that, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

We would like to give thanks to the three current Mack Walkers who we know have very heavy hearts right now. Thank you, Stephanie, Jordan, and Kellie. And to all of the current animal caretakers who were also touched by Mack and who loved him equally as much.

And from the Directors, Bonnie, Dawn, Margot, and Peggy….. thank you Mack. Thank you for all of it. And you know what we mean.