Our pack does not just train for entertainment, we also run so that we can do good. Yesterday we ran to raise money for the obedience school for the people puppies in a place called Oakland. Mom and I had raced in Oakland before and I won third dog, but Bodie had never done a race before. So she didn’t know rules like Don’t bark at the other people and threaten to eat their faces if they come near you, even if they’re just bite-sized people puppies.
Since Bodie couldn’t be polite, Mom took us to the car for our pep talk while we waited for the start. “This is what we’ve been doing all that leashing training for,” Mom said. “This is a skills based event. The goal of this race isn’t to run as fast as we can, it’s to not knock anyone over or fall into the duck pond.” “What about the people puppies? Can we knock them over?” Bodie asked. “No. No knocking anyone over.” “What if a squirrel goes by and I clothesline someone with my leash trying to get the squirrel?” Bodie asked. “Surely that can’t be helped…” “No clotheslining,” Mom clarified. “But what if there is a short necked feather cat in the pond, and we chase it, and you happen to fall down because you are in the pond?” “No ponds either,” Mom said. “Okay, but get this… what if there’s a squirrel, right? And it’s sitting on top of a people puppy’s head… and then a long-necked feather cat…” “Bodie, all we’re going to do is run 6 miles without knocking anyone over, or even scaring them. Do you understand?” “Races are for the birds,” Bodie grumbled. “There’s no fun in them at all!”
Because we were doggie doping, Mom said that we had to give everyone else a 2-minute head start. Then Mom said, “Ready, get set, GO!” and I ran directly over to the grass at the side of the road and pooped. Mom cleaned it up, and then it was time to start running. “Waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh-hoooooooooooooooooo!” screamed Bodie with her doggie telepathy as she ran back and forth from one side of the road to the other, straining at her leash. “Waaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!” screamed Mom, flailing her arms and trying to pull on the emergency brake. “Eaaaaasy, Bodie!” “BUT THERE WERE SQUIRRELS HERE!!!!” Bodie said. “I saw them when we were getting ready.” “No knocking anyone over, including me!” Mom reminded her.
Pretty soon we had caught up to the non-doping humans, and we had to concentrate on the most technical leashing our pack has ever done. If someone was up ahead of us on the path, we had to slow down until Mom said it was safe to pass with a “boop, boop, boop!” noise and a little tug on the leash to let us know which side to pass on. Sometimes she pulled our leashes real short and reminded us to “stay close” as we passed a big group, or she told us to “Go! Go! Go!” if we needed to pass someone really quickly. It was exhausting having to pay that much attention.
When we came through the start/finish area after the first loop, the lady that Bodie had tried to murder earlier in the morning came out to cheer us on. “We’re behaving!!!” Mom shouted at the attempted murderer, pumping her arms over her head in triumph as we went out for the second lap.
There were still lots of people out on the path, but this time they weren’t all racing in the same direction as us so we didn’t have to concentrate as hard on leashing. Up ahead we could see another dog looking over her shoulder at us and acting all dumb. Every time we got close to passing her, Bodie would dart out at her shouting, “NO ONE SAID I COULDN’T KNOCK *YOU* OVER!” and then Mom would make us stop and wait. Finally Bodie timed it right. We came around the dumb dog and Bodie waited until we were already in front before she did her missile thing. That time the dumb dog had to stop and let *us* pass! Running is a tactical game!
We were about to come to the start/finish area again when Bodie came up with a plan. “Watch this, Oscar,” she whispered. Then she pulled over and took the world’s tiniest little chihuahua poop. “You couldn’t wait? That wasn’t even worth stopping!” Mom whined, as she pulled out a bag and cleaned it up. By the time she was done, our nemesis the dumb dog had pulled up alongside us. “Now watch this,” Bodie said, to both me and the dumb dog. She turned on a dime and floored it. “INVISIBLE SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!” she screamed as she yanked us both into a field. “BODIE!” Mom screeched, as her arms flailed and the poop packet swung around, smacking against her wrist. “INVISIBLE SQUIRREL!!!!!!!!!” Bodie repeated, accelerating again. Mom put a foot down and tried to plant herself, but her foot landed directly in a mud puddle and slipped out from under her like a cartoon character slipping on a banana peel. But since we weren’t supposed to be knocking anyone over today, somehow she managed to stay on her feet. I was having grand fun as well, and chased the invisible squirrel in a different direction. With Bodie pulling one way, and me pulling the other, we managed to pull Mom head-on into a big, stone trash can. It was pretty funny, but unfortunately it gave Mom something to hang on to and stop us. She threw out the poop, and we resumed running. “Bet you wish you were part of MY pack,” Bodie said to the dumb dog, and then made her eat our dust as we raced into the finish.
-Oscar the Racer