Mackie Boy’s Journey to New Life
By Beth Krueger
Mackie Boy got tons of attention in his stroll through Proctors arcade in Schenectady. People having cups of coffee at the Apostrophe, people at the bus stop outdoors and, those along the way spoke about his elegance and grace as he passed by. That happens all the time wherever he goes, says his pet parent Tina Masterson. Their sense of awe would be quadrupled if they knew his journey in life.
Mackie Boy got tons of attention in his stroll through Proctors arcade in Schenectady. People having cops of coffee at the Apostrophe, people at the bus stop outdoors and, those along the way spoke about his elegance and grace as he passed by. That happens all the time wherever he goes, says his pet parent Tina Masterson. Their sense of awe would be quadrupled if they knew his journey in life.
Mackie Boy, an Akita and the pet chosen in Capital Region Living’s first “cover companion” search, made a journey from Flatbush in Brooklyn to Schenectady. But it’s what happened there and afterward that really tells the story of who he is, how he and Tina came together, and her work with him to shape this new chapter of his life.
Tina has always enjoyed the companionship of dogs, including an Akita-mix and Chow-mix. “I fell in love with the Akita breed,” she notes. When she became aware of Mackie Boy, she had just returned from living and working in Thailand. That time, too, involved dogs, including adopting beach dogs, championing the care of street dogs in Thailand, and volunteering with the Soi Dog Foundation, which works to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Asia, end animal cruelty and homelessness. There, where dog theft is frequent, she saw a customs seizure of 200 friendly dogs that otherwise would have been used for an industry of shame.
Starting a new chapter
Back here in the Capital Region, she heard from someone in an Akita rescue service about a dog rescued from the Flatbush area. Tina learned his background and decided to make the trip downstate to meet him and perhaps bring him back with her. It was a long trip as her mind raced with a thousand thoughts. With each mile, she became more and more determined that the concept of a return journey was much more than a possibility and she hoped that they would connect with each other.
When she began her trip, she was aware that the dog had been seized from a dog-fighting ring where he was a bait dog for the dogs to fight over and bring out their fighting instinct. Sometimes bait dogs’ muzzles are taped shut so that they cannot fight back. That day, Tina met a very skinny dog with visible scars who cowered like a snake, sliding on his belly to try to make himself small and invisible. But there was the connection and they began the trip back to Schenectady. To demonstrate his sense of comfort, he immediately fell asleep and snoozed for the entire journey.
Process of healing inside and out
Tina had much work ahead of her. She continued the process of healing his physical wounds to become the handsome 80-pound dog who today attracts so much attention on their walks. He had some diet difficulties, as well. Tina started cooking for him—usually a chicken a week—and his coat and well-being began to shine. She also gave him a new name with his new life, close to the old one so that he wouldn’t have a recognition problem. He came to her as “Big Mac.” That just didn’t fit anymore, Tina comments. To start this next act, she named him Mackie Boy. He’s good with that.
The challenging work that needed to be done was what was on the inside, she notes. Her key tools were an endless supply of patience, love and reminders that he was safe plus an atmosphere with no chaos where surprises are kept at a minimum, every day all the time. She and Mackie Boy were almost inseparable as he acclimated to his new life. In addition to bounding at home, “I took him everywhere I could,” she recalls.
With time and socializing, he is great with people; he is attentive to dogs and is a gentleman. During our chat at Proctors, he enjoyed some scratching behind the ear in just the right place and then flopped down on his side, ready to jump up and set out in his dignified pace alongside Tina when we were set to go outside. A significant sign of his progress, he’s become a play dog, too. “His eyes are bright and butt in the air,” he tells Tina that he’s ready to toss around the toy.
There is something so special about sharing life with a dog, Tina observes. “When a dog enters the room, the atmosphere changes.” There’s a sense of ah-h-h-. “And if you have a rough day, petting and a lick in response ease things, she adds. “It’s very difficult to put into words, what a companion they are to you.” You see things from their eyes—sharing their excitement in that walk you might not have taken if they were not there; joy in a butterfly that suddenly passes by; and pausing to play with them. Good for them and good for you.