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A Tribute to MACKS the Best Dog I’ve ever known

macks

If you’ve ever owned a dog and grown to love it then you’ll understand the devastation we are feeling. We  just made the decision that it was time to let our 15 and a half year old, incredibly beautiful Golden Retriever, be relieved from the challenges and difficulty of her arthritis and uselessness of her back legs.

Our sons were just 7 and 9 when MACKS joined our family in January 2002. To put that in perspective, in January 2002
Ansett was still flying in Australia,
Kelly Clarkson won the first series of American Idol and
Sanyo released the first ever mobile phone with a camera built in.

MACKS has been with us a long time.

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MACKS as a puppy

There hasn’t been much time in my life that I can remember not having a 4 legged mate. Rusty was my first dog growing up and once Adele and I married I brought Snowy home from the markets unbeknown to Adele. I remember arriving back with our van loaded with the furniture I used to make and sell back in those days. It was fully loaded and I asked Adele to open the sliding door and help unload. As she pulled out a box there was this little white ball of fluff. Adele wasn’t fussed on dogs but from that day on she was sold. Snowy lasted until he was 9 and a half and died just a month after moving into our current home.

It took us a full 12 months before we got over losing him and came to the conclusion it was time to find another “Man’s Best Friend”. We spent weeks searching, looking specifically at Golden Retrievers.

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A very young MACKS.

MACKS came from a home at Narangba in Brisbane. I’ve always felt she found us, not we found her. There was an instant connection, we were in love the moment we saw her. She was only weeks old and it was hard having to wait until she was 8 weeks old to bring her home with us.

Her name is all our initials because we are hopeless with coming up with names but it turned out to be perfect. Whenever someone asked what is her name we would say “MACKS, but it’s spelt with all our initials”.
Matthew
Adele
Cameron
Kevin
Snowy, our previous dog.

3-02
Running on the beach near Dunsborough WA. Only 1 foot on the sand.

Each time we would get to explain her name it gave us a sense of pride and positioned her as being a paramount part of our family.

With 2 young boys the yard always had a tennis ball about and MACKS liked to chew them to bits. She also learnt to chase the ball and bring it back, I’d throw a ball and this was how it went.

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First throw, bounds away running after the ball and brings it back
Second throw, runs to the ball, picks it up, brings it back
Third throw, jogs to the ball, picks it up, walks halfway back, gets distracted by the smell of a flower or a passing butterfly, stops for a moment and then brings the ball back.

Fourth throw, jogs to the ball, looks at it, sniffs around, picks up the ball, slowly walks about some more. I have to call her and encourage her, where’s the ball MACKS, good girl, bring the ball. Slowly she’d bring back the ball.
Fifth throw, wanders off towards the ball, does a pee in the corner, has a wander around, picks up the ball, drops it again, looks around some more, picks up the ball, sits down and begins to chew it. I go over and grab the ball.

Sixth throw, she would look at me, look at the ball, look back at me as if to say, You keep throwing it so you go get it……..
And that was that.
Time for me to pour a drink.

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Flooded waters in the park at home always provided MACKS a lot of fun

I had 2 rules with MACKS. No jumping, no licking.

Given I had a Real Estate career at the time I mostly wore black pants and her white hair would cling to my trousers or her sometimes muddy paws would make a mess of my clothes, so jumping up wasn’t allowed.
The other one was licking, I really don’t like dogs that lick. Have you seen what your dog licks with their tongue. That thing wasn’t coming anywhere near me.

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She just loved chasing sticks in the water.

Now Golden Retrievers are known for being a little dopey, it’s part of their charm, but they are so easy to train. Want to train a Golden Retriever, just use food.
Confirmation of a good act, just provide a biscuit.
A negative act is a firm No and no rewards.
Pretty bloody easy.
MACKS was no different, so easy to train.

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Adele and MACKS on her last time at the beach at Lee Point in Darwin

While I was MACKS master and she knew that, it was always clear Adele and her had a special bond. It’s a girl thing. MACKS was always a very gentle dog, kind, affectionate and eager to please. Her beautiful nature gelled perfectly with Adele and when she was young, if she saw Adele and I hug she would bark and glare with an anxious look of concern. She was definitely in protection mode. She may have known her place in the pecking order but I certainly knew mine too.

Our home in Brisbane backs onto a park and when we lost our last dog Snowy due to heartworm we chose to bury her in the backyard at the gate to the park to symbolise her role in protecting the property. It was intended MACKS would be buried on the opposite side of the gate entrance.

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Like all Golden Retrievers, MACKS loved the beach

We didn’t expect MACKS would last this long. Golden Retrievers are prone to cancer and often lose that battle somewhere between 11-13 years of age. Luckily when MACKS got cancer we caught it in time and it was successfully cut out. Still she seemed to be slowing down in the last year or two at home so when we were asked when are you leaving on your Trip around Australia our answer was “after MACKS is gone”.

As months passed by and MACKS was still with us we quickly had to come up with Plan B. If we took her with us though, she wouldn’t get to be buried at home. As I thought about it I figured what better way for her to go then by spending whatever time she had left in close proximity to us and she could have endless swims at the beach. It was obvious she had to come with us, I knew she was going to love it.

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MACKS at Rainbow Beach, Qld

Our first stop was Rainbow Beach and wow, she instinctively knew what she wanted. She had never been to a surf beach ever. We had taken her to creeks and rivers a few times but never to surf and when she saw the sand and the ocean she began dragging me with so much excitement.

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Her absolute love, passion and enthusiasm for the beach never waned, right up until her last Saturday, when she dragged her failing hind legs across the sand until she made it to the water.

It was sad to watch and it was then that I knew her time had come. It was time for me to face the agony of letting go of the most beautiful, courageous, loving animal I’d had the privilege to meet.

11-01

Everyone has always loved MACKS. She is so popular.

Each time she was dog sat, our greatest concern was they might not give her back. On numerous occasions we were asked, can I keep her?

In Agnes Water we had to cancel a dog sitter as our neighbor at the Caravan Park insisted they had to look after her for the day. The couple took her to the beach and fed her steak while we went on the Lady Musgrave Island tour.

12-01
On the lounge during a storm

MACKS didn’t like loud noises. Storms and fireworks would make her frantic. She knew she wasn’t allowed on the lounge on our back deck but that’s where we’d find her if there was thunder about. One New Years Eve we were out and received a very late night call to say our dog was out and had been found by someone. She had burst her way out and gone to visit neighbours down the street where she felt safe with people around. Again, they loved her.

There’s just so many stories of people’s affection of MACKS to tell.

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At Port Lincoln Vet with Geriatric Vestibular Disease

The dose she had of Geriatric Vestibular Disease just before Christmas last year really aged her. She no longer looked like a young puppy after that. It was a harrowing time and we are quite amazed she has lasted a further 6 months.

I woke up in the morning and got out of bed. As MACKS would always do, she figured that meant it was time for her to be fed. She tried to get to her feet and immediately crashed to the floor with a thud. Further attempts she made to stand up were in vain, she couldn’t move and within a minute she knew she was in trouble. She trembled in fear, a look of terror was in her eyes. I held her head as her eyes looked at me so scared. None of us knew what was happening, I just tried to keep her calm.

14-01
Recovering at caravan park in Port Lincoln

We were in Ceduna in South Australia and there were no vets in town. We googled and found the closest vet was an hour away in Streaky Bay. We quickly packed everything and took off, Adele in the back with MACKS all the way. I looked in the mirror a few times to see the tears streaming down Adele’s face. Adele thought she’d had a stroke.

We arrived in Streaky Bay and drove straight to the Vet, we were so relieved MACKS was still alive. To our horror we found a note on the door, the clinic was only open a few days a month, we would need to drive another 4 hours to Port Lincoln. We filled with fuel and asked if there was another Vet closer but they told us that’s where they have to go too.

What a nightmare.

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MACKS enjoying the beach at Moonta SA

For 4 more hours we drove all the way to Port Lincoln where we came across what must be the best Vet Clinic in Australia. They were amazing. Immediately they diagnosed her with Geriatric Vestibular Disease and put her on a drip. For the next 6 days she was cared for by the Vet staff and force fed water and food. We visited as much as we could.

After 6 days she wasn’t responding but clearly we could tell she liked our visits. It was decided she might respond to being with us and back in familiar surroundings. The Vet said it was the most severe case they had ever seen. We took her back on the Monday and we would attempt to force feed her but she just fought back. She hated it!!

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MACKS in the flooded creek with our son Cameron

On the Wednesday we went back to the Vet to let them know we hadn’t had any luck and it was decided that if she hadn’t begun to eat and drink by Friday we would need to “consider her options”. We all knew what that meant.

One suggestion they provided was to sweeten her water with a little cordial and it was the first thing we did when we got back. My next thought was instead of providing her nice food like chicken and meat, go for what she knew as a treat. I was having some biscuits and dip and knew how much she loves them so I offered her a chicken crimpy biscuit. It was a winner!!

Saved by a Chicken Crimpy!!

17-01

She then drank some cordial and that night enjoyed some of our roast dinner. We were delirious with excitement. In the morning it was our scrambled bacon and eggs which got shared. She was back on the road to recovery and the Friday deadline was thwarted.

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Even though she was so sick, being in the water at Moonta made her so happy

It took weeks to recover. We left Port Lincoln to Moonta and the next time we took her for a swim she fell over and ended up upside down under the water. I had to quickly grab her. It happened 2 more times but we knew each time to be close by and we were right beside her. Slowly she got her balance back but ultimately it had taken a big toll. Life for MACKS just got that little tougher with each day from that moment on.

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We all ate on the floor together for her last dinner

Her last 24 hours we tried to make as special as possible. We cooked for 4 that night, she ate what we ate and then we sat on the floor and ate dinner with her. We ended up sharing parts of our meals with her as well. She had a feast.

20
Bathed and drying in the sun

We gave her a bath the next morning and got her spotlessly clean. Then we sat together in the sun, letting her dry out. MACKS was no fan of the bright sunlight so I put my sunglasses on her. Then we decided she would wear my Indefinite Leave cap, to symbolise she would always be with us on our adventures no matter what.

21-01
Ice creams all round

Next it was a trip to Maccas. Debbie has been following us since the beginning of our trip and had fallen in love with MACKS as she had an identical Golden Retriever herself. A photo of us at an ice cream shop in Robe brought a comment from Debbie, did we buy MACKS one too? We had never thought of her having an ice cream, so her last morning was a trip to Maccas for an ice cream cone.

She wasn’t sure of it at first, she sniffed it but I think she thought she’d get in trouble if she took it. I kept offering it to her and then when I said, it’s ok have it MACKS, she took a lick and she loved it. She licked it down to the cone and then I put it on the ground and she swallowed it. She was so excited.

22-01

It was almost time to make the Vet appointment but Adele had noticed a park with a lake and fountain close by and she decided she wanted some last photos there. At first MACKS trembled from the sound of the fountain and water propelled into the air. She was so gentle natured and scared easily. We took lots of photos, gave her hugs and kisses and she was the brightest we had seen her in awhile. All these treats and being near water gave her zest once again but her legs were struggling as bad as ever. We had to carry her back to the Motorhome.

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For the rest of the afternoon we sat at Nightcliff Jetty in Darwin and let the tears flow.

I’ve never loved an animal this much. She really was one of a kind.

We will always miss you MACKS and we will always remember you.

Love always,
Matthew
Adele
Cameron
Kevin
Snowy

Indefinite Leave

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12 replies
  1. Peter
    Peter says:

    This is just a beautiful story and shows how much Macks impacted your lives in such a positive way and how much you loved her. Got to go now and give my Mia a big hug. Thank you for sharing.😢😢😢

    Reply
  2. Lianne
    Lianne says:

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and heart breaking story. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending love and strength from the hearts of our family to yours.

    Reply
  3. Maureen Bieder
    Maureen Bieder says:

    I have tears in my eyes reading this beautiful story of Macks. There is no love like the love of your dog. I am not looking forward to losing any of my three poodles. They are my family but are now 12, 13 1/2, 14 1/2.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Reply
  4. Emma
    Emma says:

    awww Macks …. I’m going to miss you and your adventures xxxx thanks for sharing her with us Adele, Kevin, Matt and Cameron

    Reply
  5. Brenda & Peter
    Brenda & Peter says:

    Oh dear Kevin, That was just beautiful. Dear dear Macks, she was a beautiful dog such a lovely nature. You will be left with so many happy memories of your time with her. Love to you & Adele & Matthew. ♥♥♥ From Brenda & Peter I feel so privileged to have met her. Dogs are one of the best of Gods creatures. They are so very loyal & ask nothing in return.

    Reply

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