A life with Mac

This Blog post is from an email I received on the weekend, Ben writes the story of Macmillan, his Labrador he brought to me when Mac was about a year old, and he was a naughty Black Lab that needed some schooling.

Although it was about 14 years ago, I do remember Ben, Cassie and especially Mac, we did 2 or 3 lessons together from memory and I never heard from them again.

Old dogs have Character

I am always happy to hear from my clients, with good or bad news, so I can keep on top of cases and keep helping where I can.

If you have an old dog at home like I do, or have ever lost a dog, I think this Blog might strike a cord with you, it did with me.

Ben starts off with a long overdue update, you need to read this carefully, tissues ready for deployment.

Hello Steve, it’s Ben here, it has been years since we have spoken as Mac has been the perfect dog.

I promised to keep in touch but I’m sure you know how life has it’s turns, but here I am again 14 years later with my progress report.

It occurred to me that he was the perfect dog, but as you might recall, this was not always the case.

I wanted to regale you with the life of Mac (Millan), I wonder if your readers might like to hear it so by all means add this to your web guide if you think it’s appropriate.

I got Mac when he was just 7 weeks old, he was a rambunctious fellow that was full of himself, and took over our lives.

We knew all about dogs and of course we royally stuffed up and by the time he was a year he was vicious toward us around his food.

He had bitten me twice on the hand and once on the cheek, chewed most everything we owned that was of any value and was unbearable to walk at heel.

It’s hard to remember the details but we were at our wits end I know that much.

We came to see you and of course Mac began to transform into the dog of our lives, and our hearts.

I can’t remember now what exactly you did or told us but it certainly helped us all get along.

When Mac was about two our daughter Irene’s dog Sherry was hit by a car. Sherry came to stay with us out of the vet.

I went to change Sherrys bandage the first morning and she snarled at me, bared her teeth and was staring at me. I think I hurt her.

Mac came racing to my side, Sherry was snarling at him. I thought there would be a terrible fight.

Mac lowered his head and then gently licked Sherrys wound. She laid on her side whilst he gently cleaned it. This became a morning ritual.

Mac showed us the self control you taught him.

I used to work on a building site and Mac came to work with me every day. The days were long but I was glad to have him for company.

We would eat lunch together every day. I used to enjoy sharing a BBQ chicken with him. It always was a bittersweet feeling though, happy you taught him how to share, sad I taught him first to fear me taking his food.

When Mac was about five new rules came about and it wasn’t possible for me to take him to work any more, he stayed home with Cassie, I looked forward to retirement as I really remembered how much I hated working alone.

I won’t bore you with the details but Cassie and I decided our time together had been so wonderful that we should leave it there.

She moved just two streets away and we had real trouble deciding how we would share Mac.

I really struggled with the separation and I just dreaded the awkwardness of the sharing.

Once again Mac took care of this , he would take himself to see Cassie every morning and be home to meet me arriving home from work.

It was always funny to see him meet me at the gate and avoid eye contact with me for a few minutes each day.

I think this was a mark of respect, you taught us to respect Mac and him to respect us. It was always good for a laugh too, when around that time there wasn’t too much laughter in our lives.

Again I chalk another one up to you Steve, we came to you frustrated and you said to make it fun.

It must have been 2008 when Mac and I were sitting at some traffic lights in Mona Vale, Mac was in the front passenger seat looking out the window when our car was hit very hard from the side.

I don’t remember too much but when I got my wits about me Mac was on the side that was hit and he was really hurt.

I wasn’t really much better and wasn’t able to help him, some people came around and some time later an ambulance. Mac was taken to the animal hospital and me the old farts hospital.

I was out in a couple of days but Macs leg was broken. The vet said as he was 10 it might be best to let him go.

I remember my throat burning and eyes stinging as I held back the tears. I wanted to let him have peace but I sadly was not strong enough.

The vet agreed to operate and pin his leg, the insurance check from my written off car went to pay for Macs surgery, no medicare for dogs!

I knew Mac needed some nursing and intensive care and rather than go back to work, I took early retirement.

Mac pulled through like a trooper, there never was a moment of trouble and that dog that we moaned about that would tinkle in the house as a pup insisted at 10 to take himself out, even with a broken leg. Not one accident, thanks again Steve.

I remember about two years ago walking down the shop catching a view of Mac and I in the shop window reflection, two now old men, hobbling along at a snails pace grumbling and groaning, both of us grey around the muzzle.

Two old mates. The view got a little blurry, I think some dust in my eye when I realised Mac was old now and I would one day be without him.

Last Winter I noticed his leg playing up, I thought it was the cold and it was sort of, he had some bad arthritis and I got him a new bed, you taught him to love his mat and that was his place, he never really got on furniture.

I laid out his new bed and he was so excited, sniffing all around it and over it and not sure if he should get on it, looking at me for permission

I thought he would never sleep on it but he did, good thing too as it was a special bed for the arthritis and cost more than my bed!

Mac loved it and spent all of his time on it when he wasn’t with me.

I did always worry about Mac as I knew he was old and you never know when the train will take them.

Sometimes when I walked to the shop now he would roll on his back when I went to walk out the door, so I would let him sit this one out.

A few times I came home and called him and there was a scary silence. I ran into the living room and he was just asleep.

He started off deaf and he was becoming deaf again! This time wasn’t by choice ha ha.

A few weeks ago now we had that bloody cold spell, Mac really felt it and couldn’t get comfortable one night. I got up and made a cup of tea and as usual gave him the last half, we always share.

I went into bed and he followed me into my room. He looked at me and I didn’t know what he wanted.

We never had dogs in our house when I was growing up so Mac being inside was not how my dad had dogs, I thought buggar it and called Mac up onto my bed.

He made every effort and between the both of us he was up. He settled in a flash and kept me awake snoring. I remember thinking that my dad would turn in his grave ha ha.

I woke up in is the morning and Mac was gone, he hadn’t moved all night and his body was still warm.

But his time had run out.

I was strangely calm, I don’t know why.

I talked to him like a crazy old fool for must have been an hour.

Telling him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him.

I made a cup of tea, drank my half and left Macs half on the bedside table.

I rang the vet who came and took him away and looked after him.

He was buried with that toy you gave him the first day we met. It was the only toy he never destroyed. I also put in the lead we got from you, it was still in great nick but I will have no use for it.

Steve I write this to you so I could let you know how much you did for me, Cassie and Mac.

I think people today don’t realise how much an animal can make your life.

I know that all too well and I now know how much you gave us.

Every hardship I suffered Mac was there, every good time too, he made me laugh my guts out a truck load of times and I cried a lot for him since.

In our lessons you were patient and calm and had a knack with Mac, he loved you Steve.

You probably don’t remember us but I wanted to write to you to let you know Mac had passed and most importantly we remember you.


1998 – 2013.

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  1. Never did I expect to shed tears reading this, what a beautiful read.So sad our companions are with us for such a short time.RIP mac

  2. Beautiful story dogs really do make life very special RIP Mac

  3. Gosh, what a beautiful tribute to a clearly treasured dog. My heart is bursting for you both. I grew up with Shepherds, they are such incredible souls. Thank you for sharing your remarkable life with Mac, Mac was blessed to have such a devoted owner.
    Run Free Mac and watch over your Dad xx

  4. I too am sitting here at work trying to hide tears from an office full of men. What a wonderful and touching life story, and I’m really glad I’m not the only one to share tea with my best mate. RIP Mac

  5. What a beautiful story – yes I needed the tissues.

  6. ow my gosh the tears were just gushing out and I’m at front desk at work… struggling to keep it together! so beautiful.

  7. Sympathy for your loss. Just remember that, because of Steve’s help, you gave Mac a wonderful life which he returned in full. He knew what was coming and wanted to share it with you and when your time comes he will be waiting over the rainbow bridge – and both of you, free of the pain that old age brings will be together again. Hold onto that thought. God bless.

  8. A beautiful tribute….rest in peace at the Rainbow Bridge Mac

  9. WOW! What a beautifully written piece! Reminds me of the book ‘Marley and Me’. Lucky man to have such a wonderful dog and lucky dog to have such a wonderful man! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Beautifully said. RIP Mac. As the mum of a very old dog, knowing that time is coming makes the time we have now so very special.

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