Major a faithful friend

Major rests in the back of Russell Burgess’ ute at the East Otago Field Days. Photo: Stephen...
Major rests in the back of Russell Burgess’ ute at the East Otago Field Days. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery.
The bones might be a bit stiffer and the face a little whiter but there is  one constant in Major’s life — riding in the back of his master’s ute.

The 13-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever has clocked up a whopping 700,000km over the years, accompanying Power Farming Otago sales manager Russell Burgess on his road trips.

"That’s his job. He knows every morning he’s on the back of the ute and away. He loves it. When someone comes up, he’ll lift a lip ...  because it’s his ute," Mr Burgess said, while attending the East Otago Field Days in Palmerston.

In his younger years Major enjoyed a run or a swim in a lake or river during their excursions, but old age was now catching up.

"He’s seen a few too many sights ...  he spends a lot more time resting than he used to. He’s hunting in his dreams now."

Major was a very familiar sight — "people recognise him before they recognise me" — and was known to enjoy tidbits during stops on his travels.

He was also  known in  South Canterbury, where Mr Burgess worked before moving to Otago several years ago.

Every morning, Major could still be found by the ute "ready to go".

He did require a lift up and while he thought he could still jump off, Mr Burgess  had to catch him. 

During winter, he was kept warm with a special Power Farming coat.

Mr Burgess has had Major since he was a pup.

He had  been a good duck-shooting dog, "hence why he’s quite deaf".

When the day came that Major made his final ride, which was "not far away", he would be laid to rest alongside his predecessor Chase at the popular holiday spot of Otematata in the Waitaki Valley.

And then, "we’ll train up another one", Mr Burgess said.

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