Mara: A Tribute to our ol’ Border Collie

Our ol’ border collie Mara

A tribute to our ol’ border collie Mara

Familiar visitors to our farm may miss the little black and white dog with the one brown and one blue eye and the rather circular gait: at 14, Mara finally met her demise as we thought and feared she might, under the tire of a heavy vehicle . . .

Mara came to the farm as a puppy. Someone was giving puppies away at the Norwich Farmer’s Market . . . it was the end of the season, Shona and Suzanne were doing the market alone, Shona was just eight years old, the puppies were so cute, and boarder collies are working dogs . . . how could we not get one, right?

We never had time to train ourselves to work with Mara. Nonetheless, she took her job on the farm very seriously. In fact, she took life very seriously . . . and good manners, too. How many dogs do you know that could sit in the truck seat right next to a plate of toast and butter (Suzanne’s standard uneaten breakfast) for hours and not take a lick or nibble?

Mara loved moving cows and keeping them out of the way when Tim was bringing them hay. She helped us (sort of) collect stray chickens and put them back in their fenced area. She was always ready to get down to work . . . whatever that might be in her mind.

Odin, our big white dog, doted on Mara. He would rarely go anywhere without her (which sort of hindered his guard-dog duties). In fact, he seemed to consult with Mara on most things, making him a rather obedient fellow.

Mara and Suzanne had a “special” relationship. It is true that Mara was pretty connected to Suzanne, usually hanging out whereever she was working. In the early spring, you could often tell which greenhouse Suzanne was working in because you would see Mara sitting just outside. But that relationship also had a dangerous side. Mara would tend to lie under the farm vehicals and Suzanne ended up hitting her . . . twice . . . before her demise. The second time gave Mara that peculiar circular gait in which her hind legs would go sideways more than forward . . . luckily her tail would move in sync helping to propel her along . . .

Mara’s habit of lying behind or under vehicles only got stronger with the years. . . and she wasn’t moving any faster. It was of course tragic that it was once again Suzanne that ran over Mara for the last time . . . but we think it was fated . . . in a small way it was a relief that Suzanne was at the wheel and not someone else.

Mara lived a long and active life . . . she was a real trooper. We miss her funny little personality on the farm.

Inquiring minds may be wondering: We have no photos of Mara because she was amazingly able to disappear whenever a camera came out. We suspect she was an alien . . . and we all know that aliens don’t show up in photos. She’s now probably happily herding chickens back in Area 51. She is missed.

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