As parents on a busy, working farm, you could say farm safety is at the forefront of what we do every day.

We are constantly thinking about our children, their friends, our small nieces and nephews who spend so much time with us. We are constantly arranging equipment, putting up fences, covering holes and mending broken beams – all to make the farm a safer place for our kids.

We also spend a lot of time talking about farm safety. What is this pit? What would happen if you fell in? The bull is a lovely animal but is he not also very dangerous? The cows are very placid but you should still always give them a wide berth. The calves are so cute but they can still kick! This big bag has a symbol on it, can you see? It means it can burn your skin if you touch it.

It’s a constant thing and hopefully a thing which will keep us all safe in the long term.

But farm accidents still happen and we were reminded of this last week when we lost our beloved dog.

We have a dog who works – a big, intelligent collie who, for his commanding behaviour with the cows, is very gentle in personality. We love him very much but the kids know he is not our pet; he is a very important farm worker and helps us manage these very large animals every day.

He is very tuned in and was, thankfully, not hurt in this farm accident. No, the dog who was killed was our family pet. He was loving and fun and was great with the kids – and the kids adored him. This dog spent most of his time in the house with me and didn’t venture down to the farm very often.

Poor visibility

During some stormy weather, my husband was in the farm jeep bringing the cows back to their pasture after the evening milking. He didn’t even realise he had hit him. Visibility was bad and the dog being quite small (and never normally in the farm yard), there was no big thud or any indication the jeep had come into contact with something.

Later on, another farm worker came to tell us the dog was dead, lying in the middle of the farmyard.

Thankfully, the day was winding down at this stage and the kids were headed for bed. I had to get my head around what happened before I could sit them down to tell them.

My husband was wracked with guilt. We both felt the guilt, actually – how could we have let this happen?

You see, this was the first real loss they have ever experienced. They loved their pet and the dog didn’t deserve to go the way he did – in actuality, he should have had at least 10 more good years left in him. I was devastated because I’m a dog lover too. This was a special dog; kind, obedient and gentle with children. The kind of dog who really completes your family. I had just given him a bath earlier that day and washed his collar in the washing machine.

I cried for most of the night. My husband was wracked with guilt. We both felt the guilt, actually – how could we have let this happen? We are usually so, so careful. I am usually looking out the window for dogs and children in the farmyard. We live well off the road but we were always mindful of machinery and jeeps coming and going.

The next morning, we sat our children down to tell them the sad news. It went as well as expected. Lots of tears and a four-year-old not quite understanding, saying: “That’s a really sad story, mummy.”

We gave him a burial, looked at pictures, laughed at videos where he was acting silly and talked about what we had loved most about him. We talked about the possibility of a heaven and how he might be up there now, with our loved ones who had passed – keeping them entertained.


A week later, and I am still mopping up his paw prints. I am still finding stuffies belonging to the kids he had kidnapped and destroyed. Yesterday, I realised he had chewed a hole through our air mattress (which someone had recently been sleeping on and I had hung out for airing) and had to throw it out. I have lost much-loved pets in the past but this is the first time I have felt responsible for a pet’s death. The grief is still crippling when I come across the pieces of him still lingering around the house.

Still, he had a wonderful life with us and was happy – I’m sure right up to the very instant he died. And it was instant, if there’s anything to be thankful for, we at least know there is no way he could have suffered.

It has opened our eyes to farm safety just that bit more. We are that much more aware and now know we need better lighting in that area of the farmyard. We are trying not to beat ourselves up too much. But we will miss our boy.

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