Last summer, a dog walked into the Bay Pines Veterinary Clinic, near Harbor Springs. He must have been amazed when the staff knew him by name. “Are you Bandit?” they asked. “THE Bandit?” His Australian Shepherd tailless butt wagged with delight as he hobbled to meet their outstretched hands.

How did they know Bandit? It turns out that everyone in the clinic reads Michigan Country Lines and remembered him from a column I wrote over two years ago. That’s the kind of community this magazine was meant to build when it began 33 years ago.

Then, every town of decent size had a printer who crafted posters, flyers, school programs, and the weekly newspaper (a local Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist rolled into one). I wrote for those printers, before I became Country Lines’ first editor.

Many of those printers, including the one in which Country Lines was born, no longer exist. They went out of business because they couldn’t adapt to the changes computers have brought to printing and publishing.

But, Country Lines is adapting and changing in ways that will pave the way for greater integration between print, online and social media communications. These changes embrace all the ways we communicate today, and will help Country Lines build a stronger co-op community.

Sadly, Bandit has been diagnosed with bone cancer, so this will be his last winter.

I’m proud to have been part of this magazine, and I loved working on it. It was never a job. We won a few awards along the way, and it became one of the best-read of similar publications across the country. Thank you for reading it and letting me know what you thought.

Even though this is my last Country Lines column, I intend to keep writing, but where I will publish is uncertain. Send me an email at or “friend” me on Facebook if you want to know where to find my ramblings.

Mike Buda is the creator and editor emeritus of Michigan Country Lines.