Man’s Best Friend: Ode To Taz

Border Collie
Man’s Best Friend:  Ode To Taz

About the Author

Gary J. Machan

Gary J. Machan

Gary Machan serves on the Community Advisory Research Committee for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. Through the course of his career he has received several provincial awards including the 2nd Stage of Medicare, Ontario Tobacco Network Innovation Award for Excellence, and Food Champion Award. In addition, Mr. Machan is an associate with the Centre for Inner Freedom where his work was featured by Tom Harpur in his best selling book ‘Finding the Still Point’.

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While I am probably more of a ‘cat’ than a ‘dog’ person, this was one preconceived notion that was really put to the test just recently when we had to put down our old border collie, Taz. Never mind his ears struck me as serving no real purpose other than ornamental – he repeatedly ignoring my commands – the hard truth is I miss him dearly.

Perhaps, it is because we shared so much in common. I can distinctly recall a close friend who suggested as much when I went on a tirade due to Taz’s knack for stirring up trouble. On this particular occasion, he caused our next door neighbour’s German Shepherd to dislocate her shoulder by barking and taunting her within inches of the perimeter of her chain.

It was also around then that another colleague of mine said I bore a striking similarity to her border collie. Only this time it was meant as a compliment due to the way ‘you round up the herd and move them along’. The timing of which was quite uncanny, since just prior a dozen or so cattle escaped from our neighbour’s farm only to be corralled in short order by Taz.

This was a most beautiful thing to behold. Taz suddenly transformed from a neighbourhood menace into that which he was bred to do. Barking and nipping at the cattle’s feet, one by one, until he had them bound as a tightly knit herd. When the farmer finally did arrive, even he was amazed that no cattle had strayed off.

As for this festive season, there is a definite and pronounced void in our house, precisely because he was such a big part of our family. Rare are the family photos that he wasn’t included. Plus, what made him so precious is the extent he touched all of our lives, and most especially our children as they essentially grew up together.

Many were the consoling messages we received from family and friends who recounted a Taz ‘experience’ whether it be the de-quilling of his face after he was nailed by a porcupine (only to go out and do it again) to his knack of peeing on the feet of a small cast of people he deemed worthy of such special treatment who visited our home.

I suppose my most memorable Taz moment occurred when he bolted off and tried to mount another female dog during his first obedience class when we were instructed to let our dogs off the leash. Suffice it to say, we were not invited back for the second class, but rather advised to seek private tutoring. Yep, that was one time I wish I could have dissolved into nothingness.

Still, it is hard to imagine life without him, as I still yearn to hear the clicking of his feet on our floor as he would run to the door to be let out. Or the way he would nap on my side of the bed and cuddle up. And most especially, my daily walks where he is no longer by my side, neighbours occasionally inquiring ‘where is Taz?’.

It is then that I realize what a large presence he was in my life and how ironic it is that the very things that riled me up are the very attributes I most miss. Be it his untameable and unconquerable spirit to his defiance towards suspect authority figures. His motto: better to face the wrath for non-compliance than capitulate and be that which he was not meant to be.

All of which makes me wonder if we are not too people centric in the way we envision and conceive of healthy communities. Many are the studies which demonstrate the therapeutic value of pets. Not to mention, judging by the size of many North Americans, it wouldn’t hurt if more of us had dogs to take out for walks.

Regardless, my greatest prayer right now is that Taz be forever free to run in the fields of eternity, rounding up dreams as he did the cattle.

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