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A Hound Dog Named Mace

An old man lived with his hound-dog, Mace, in a run-down shack on the
outskirts of town. He had no family and only a few meager possessions: a
table and chair, a bed, a bag of hand tools, and his dog. He used the
tools to do odd jobs in town, for which he usually would be paid enough to
get food for the next day.

Mace and his master lived from one day to the next on what little these
jobs would bring. The dog was just a normal hound, with one exception:
while most  dogs like to chew on grass occasionally, Mace loved it.
When the old man was in town, Mace would spend the day in the yard
in front of the house, chewing away on the lawn.

One bright, sunny day the old man said goodbye to his dog and headed
into town to work. He had a plumbing repair job in one of the homes there
that would take him most of the day and would probably pay enough for food
for the remainder of the week, if he managed the money carefully.


He headed for town with a spring in his step and a whistle on his lips. Inside the
house and ready to start, the old man reached in the bag for his wrench. To his
surprise, he didn't feel it. He dug around again, but there didn't seem
to be any wrench. He looked in the bag, then dumped its contents on the
floor, but still no wrench. Reality set in. Without a wrench he couldn't
finish the job, and without the pay he couldn't even buy food for that night's
supper, let alone for tomorrow. When he finally came to grips with reality, he
told the lady who hired him what the situation was. While she sympathized
with his situation, the job needed to be done. If the old man couldn't do it,
she would have to hire someone else.


The old man packed up his tools and headed home, head bowed and shoulders
stooped. The whistle was gone and no longer was there a spring in his
step. A walk that normally took 15 minutes seemed to last forever. But
finally the old shack came into view, and there was Mace in the distance,
munching away as usual on the lawn. When the dog saw his master, he came
running, tail wagging, telling the old man how glad he was to see him. Kneeling
beside the hound, the man began to pet him, and through tear-filled eyes told the
dog that there would be no supper tonight and no food for tomorrow. What's
more, without money to buy a new  wrench, he had no idea what the future
held. It was the loneliest, most helpless feeling he ever had!


Then he caught a glimpse of something shining in the grass. As the old
man went over to see what this piece of shining material was, his despair
turned in an instant to joy! It was the wrench! The old man had dropped it on
his way out that morning, and it would have been lost forever had Mace not
been eating farther away from the house than he usually did! The old man
grabbed the dog, gave him a hug that almost suffocated him, and ran into the
house. Reaching for a stub of pencil and the only piece of paper he had, he
wrote a moving tribute to his canine companion.


Few people have ever heard these words...until now, that is. One man who
did happen to read them changed them a bit and has his name recorded in
music history. The old man never did get the credit he deserved. But now you
are privileged to read the opening line of his original poem, which began:

"A grazing Mace, how sweet the hound that saved a wrench for me."