MACK, SUMMERWIND'S BLUE STREAK, F.Ch.
1998 - 2007
It is with great sadness that I report the death of our Mack, SummerWind's Blue Streak, F.Ch., from osteosarcoma. He was 9.
Mack came to live with me in March 2001, just shy of hiS 3rd birthday. It was a time of great loss in my life, as I had lost my first wife Debbie to cancer in February, followed by our first Greyhound Brandy three weeks later, at age 11, also from cancer. I was pretty low. Our then foster chairman, Joy Riley, had persuaded me to foster Mack. (This was when we relied entirely on foster homes to house adoptable Greyhounds coming in to our program). Mack was a corker - he could be a goofball, true to his color, but at the same time was a very perceptive Greyhound. He seemed to be able to sense how I was feeling, and at times when I was sitting at the kitchen table or watching television, he would come over to me and put his head in my lap. I think that initial time we spent together created a special bond between us. Needless to say, he moved from foster to permanent resident within a couple of weeks.
He did seem to draw comfort from physical human contact. When he went somewhere with me in my van, he would stand just behind the console between the front seats to look out, and would often rest his head on my shoulder. He was a leaner, especially at lure trials, when he would seem to put almost all his body weight against my leg while waiting to run. I always enjoyed playing a trick on him and would just step backward suddenly. He would regain his balance and look up at me with a big silly grin, then jump on me with his front feet and bark.
Mack joined our lure coursing team, and while he was a middling lure courser, no Greyhound ever enjoyed the sport more. He had a big, easy stride that was a pleasure to watch, and it gave him a nice turn of speed in the straights. He just couldn't-or wouldn't - turn very well. But his speed was such that even if he took a turn wide, he could make up the deficit if the next straight was long enough for him to open up that big stride of his. No complaints from me, because in five years of lure coursing, he never had a toe injury.
I never figured out whether Mack couldn't make tight turns, or just chose not to most of the time. Every now and then, he would put in absolutely spectacular courses in which he would execute near-flawless turns. One of those was the 2002 Region 7 Invitational, when he put it all together and defeated a large and talented field of Greyhounds, including some in the Top 10, to win Best of Breed. I love it when underdogs win, and that day was one of the best days in my lure coursing experience. We later learned that Mack had slurped some of Laura's coffee in the van cup holder that morning, so we always wondered if Mack had been "up" from his sneak drink, and whether anyone would accuse us of "doping" our dog!
I always wondered how Mack would do on live game, because he was completely obsessed with any kind of fur. A friend who was parked next to us at a field trial once had purchased a coyote "mask" - the fur surrounding the muzzle and face of a coyote - and Mack about broke out of his crate trying to get to it. When it was put away, and he was let out of his crate an hour or so later, he went immediately to the bag it had been put in to retrieve it. If he put a squirrel up a tree, for about a week thereafter he would immediately return to that same tree whenever he was turned out, just to see if that squirrel might still be there.
As he got older, he of course lost a step or two in his speed in lure coursing, and it seemed to frustrate him that he couldn't catch up to the other dogs in the straights. He seemed to be losing interest in giving it his all, so we retired him in 2006, just 20 points shy of his Lure Courser of Merit title. He still was keen to jump in the van and go whenever he saw the field trial gear being loaded, so occasionally he went along for the ride, and I think in his later years he enjoyed that almost as much as the running.
Mack was always a good "farm dog," i.e. one we could let roam outside the dog pasture and rely on to come when called, except of course if he saw a squirrel or deer. He could be counted on to accompany us when we rode horses around the farm, and stay with us wherever we rode. He took great delight in surprising our ubiquitous flocks of Canada geese, running among them to scatter them into flight.
The osteosarcoma diagnosis, made in September, was quite a blow. Because of his age, we opted not to go the amputation-and-chemotherapy route, but instead just managed his pain. The drug regimen we had him on, tramadol and previcox, worked quite well, and he was a happy dog with a good appetite until the last 36 hours of his life, when he began to lose the use of his good right rear leg and could no longer ambulate without help. He clearly was not happy in that condition, so we decided it was time to let him go. I petted him and talked to him as he slipped away, and I only hope that I was able to give him the same comfort he gave me when he first came to live with me. He was a great old friend, and I sure would have enjoyed getting older with him. I don't think the years would have dimmed his essential cheerful-in-all-weathers and somewhat goofy personality.
The accompanying photo of him captures Mack at his athletic best - in full stride, with a look on his face that shows how much he loved running.
Rest in peace, old buddy. You will be missed.