The writer would like to see all old farm dogs 'parked on the porch with a bone' until the day they die, which is lovely but unpractical. If you have only one or two dogs and own your property this is feasible, but in most cases it isn't.
Most farm workers are only allowed a certain number of dogs. If they are lucky, there is room to rear a pup to replace an old or injured dog. When a dog, for whatever reason, is unable to fill a working roll, it has to go in order to make room for another. It's sad but a fact of farming life, particularly when you are employed and have no say in the matter.
Also, some properties require large numbers of dogs. They may retire at nine and live another five years. You would need a very large porch and lots of bones!
I love dogs, but the idea of several, big retired working dogs shedding hair, gnawing bones at the back door, cocking their legs and leaving large droppings on the lawn is not one I would relish.
Another problem is that most farmhouses don't have dog proof fences. Especially for working dogs, which are trained to jump, go through, or under anything in order to do their work. The boss will constantly be heading to and from work, going past with stock, or working within earshot and the old dog will try to follow.
Chain it up, or lock it in a kennel, and the howls and barks will tell of the stress, frustration and/or boredom.
Letter writer C Lawrence's neighbour's old dog may be lucky enough to ride on the back of the bike giving pointers (yeah right) to the young dog, but here, like many other steep hill country properties, there is barely enough room for the working dogs let alone a retired bitch along just for the ride.
Most people would like to care for their dogs in old age, but often this just isn't possible.
Most old farm dogs can't live at the back door and although they may have a warm dry kennel, clean water, good food and health issues taken care of, they want to be working dogs. I feel it is kinder to put them to sleep, rather than have them confined to living a life of boredom.
I am not 'a horrible woman' as C Lawrence puts it, and I don't want to 'palm my aging problem onto someone else'. I had hoped to find a lovely home with a fenced section, someone who wants a kind dog for company, somewhere where Tui can't hear Gordon doing the stock-work that she loves, but can't do.
If anyone has a problem with something I have written you are welcome to contact me: I'd rather clarify things over the phone than waste this valuable space. You will find that I write from the heart with a love and respect for working dogs.
I have always struggled with farming: it can be cruel, often sad, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do – whether you like it or not. And everything I write about dogs is for dogs – their mental and physical wellbeing.