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Blown dogs, blown knees, blown hikes

Mom and I wanted to go somewhere far away this weekend. We were willing to take the Covered Wagon for 6 hours to find somewhere where the weather wouldn’t be rotten and the roads wouldn’t be covered with white dirt, but no matter what direction we looked in, there was going to be nasty weather. So we decided to stay home.

“I have an idea,” Mom said. “You know that mountain where there are always people, even at 4:30am on a Thursday?” “Yeah, sure,” I said. I like that trail because there are cows. “I bet with the weather being as nasty as it is, there won’t be a lot of people there. Let’s go for it!” “Goody goody gumdrops! Moo-cows!” I said. I’m part cattle dog, so barking at moo-cows is why I was put on this earth. I’m very good at it.

It wasn’t raining, but the wind was blowing so hard that I expected to see a house flying by outside the car window. Instead, all I saw was a big ol’ tree lying across the road, on top of the brick wall that it had smashed through and car that it had squished. Mom was right that no one would want to hike on a day like today. Even though it was so late in the morning that even the lazy people were awake, there were still lots of parking spots in the car kennel, which is something that we’ve never, ever, ever seen here.

All those people were silly, because even though the wind pushed hard on us, it wasn’t cold and it wasn’t wet, and the only thing that we had to do differently was that Mom had to hold her hat on top of her head to keep it from blowing away, and I had to look out for things flying through the air like leaves and 18-inch strips of tree skin to make sure that I didn’t get smacked in my handsome face.

All the people who weren’t at the mountain were really missing something special, because just like us, the moo-cows had come to hang out on the empty trail and were chilling within sniffing distance. Not only that, but because cows are wide and flat like sails, they were all lying boneless on the ground so that they wouldn’t blow away. I barked at a few of them, but they just rolled their big moo-cow eyes in fear and stayed lying on the ground like dropped blankets.

Mom and I had been climbing for about a mile when we turned a corner and were hit full in the faces by a strong gust of wind. Mom was holding her hat secure on her head, but the wind grabbed the little white kibble that sits in her ear and tells her stories, and threw it down the hill. Mom gasped and spun around to find the kibble. It was rolling down the hill, pushed on by the wind.

We haven’t run a step in weeks because of Mom’s knee, so when she took off after the ear kibble, she ran one single step and screamed. She had just enough strength left to reach out and catch the ear kibble before it escaped, and then she crumpled down onto the ground and sat on the trail holding her knee with one hand, and her hat with the other. “What happened?” I asked. “Get up. Cows poop on this trail. You’ll get poo on you and then people will think you pooped your pants.” Mom just stayed tucked in a ball and groaned a little bit, so I let her sit there and be dramatic while I sniffed all the air blowing by for more news about the moo-cows.

Presently a bunch of humans came by and said something to Mom that we couldn’t hear because their words blew away before they got to our ears. “I’m fine,” Mom said, and waved them away. The wind followed her hand, and blew the people down the hill so that we could be alone again. “I think they were asking if you pooped your pants, Mom. You had better get up before someone starts a rumor.”

Mom got back on her feet, but when she tried to step with her bad leg, she yanked it back like the ground was electrified. That was a problem because her other leg was already stepping and she almost fell over. “I know this isn’t the time to say ‘I told you so,’ but if you used your other 2 paws for walking, you would hardly notice that you were missing one…” I offered. I’ve seen dogs that can run with only 3 legs, but the way she was hobbling now, Mom would have lost a sprint with a turtle. “Sorry, bud. I think our hike is over,” Mom said. But obviously she was lying, because we were still on the mountainside a mile from the car. Unless we were going to live with the cows forever, we still had hiking to do.

By putting her bad paw on the ground only about a millimeter in front of the toes of her good paw, Mom could put weight on the bad leg for just long enough to hop her good leg forward a few inches. For over a mile, she hobbled down the hill like that, flopping and groaning every so often when she tried to straighten up and walk normally. Every time someone walked by, she made sure to hide her face behind her hat and the arm holding it down in case they thought she was walking that way because she pooped her pants. I looked at the other hikers, but I didn’t bark at them because I didn’t want to call attention to how embarrassing Mom was being.

Normally I would have coached Mom to hurry up if she were running 45-minute miles, but something told me that today was not the day for coaching. So I took teeny, tiny steps beside her. Then, a big moo-cow stepped onto the trail not 20 feet in front of us and looked right at me, challenging me to do something about it. I didn’t even pull on the leash to get a better look or bark at him. Every time I leaned forward to get a better sniff, Mom gave me a tug on the leash and told me “no,” and I pulled back. When this moo-cow told all of her moo-cow friends how bad I was at barking, Mom was going to owe me big time.

Finally we got back to the car kennel, and Mom tipped herself into the car seat. “Can we come back and try again tomorrow?” I asked. “I don’t think that I’ll be better enough to hike tomorrow, Bub,” Mom said sadly. “You know, Mom. You committed to taking me on regular runs and adventures, and you haven’t been keeping up your side of the deal lately. If you’re going to miss any more hikes and runs, I’m going to need a vet’s note if you don’t want to be fired.” Since Mom is a loyal human, she agreed to see the knee vet this Friday. Until then, it’s nothing but naps for this hunk.

Oscar the wind-blown Pooch



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