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Mom didn’t maintain herself properly, and now she’s broken down like a junker. She’s so old that she can’t possibly still be under warrantee, but you can’t just throw out old humans when they run out. They’re like old batteries that you have to keep in a drawer for the rest of your life until you die, even though they’re not doing anybody any good. Or, that’s the way Mom explained it to me when I complained that she hadn’t taken me out for so much as a walk in a week, and I threatened to kick her out and find a new running buddy to live with.

It all started last week I was watching Mom run on the dreadmill. Suddenly the regular bang-bang-bang of her running got all distorted, and then she jumped off. “Uh oh, that’s not good,” she said. “What?” I asked. From where I was sitting she hadn’t done anything but bang on the treadmill for 15 minutes. “I felt a sudden pain, and then a warm spreading feeling in my knee like a puddle,” she said. “So?” I said. “Stop being a baby.” Because I’m a marathong coach, I know a loser’s attitude when I hear one. I hadn’t even had a chance to get bored and fall asleep yet. She jumped back on the dreadmill and ran another couple of steps, but it still sounded wrong, like the lub-dub in Mom’s chest instead of her regular feet beat. After only a couple of seconds she stopped the dragon inside the dreadmill from roaring and sat on our bed. “I think it’s really hurt,” she said. “Don’t worry,” I said. “All marathong coaches know how to fix that problem. You should ignore it and keep running until it goes away.” But as usual Mom ignored my advice and went to the shower. That’s why she walked around like a pirate with a peg leg for the rest of the day.

The next day she was walking more normally, but she still didn’t take me on any walks or runs. The day after that she didn’t wear rhino shoes to work, and she didn’t take me on any walks or runs. Two days after that she tried the rhino shoes, but still no walking or running. If I didn’t have being a busy-ness dog to keep me occupied, I would have died of boredom. After five days of Mom not doing her job I said, “This has gone on long enough. You’re not walking funny anymore, and you’re back to normal on everything but taking your loyal, patient and handsome dog on adventures. It’s time to get back to work.” “You’re right,” Mom said. “It doesn’t really hurt anymore. Let’s try running tomorrow.”

When we got to The City, I could hardly wait to get out of the car. I squealed until we got down to the sidewalk, and then I took off like a shot toward the sidewalk that goes along the Little Water forever. I wanted to go for a long run to make up for lost time, but before we even reached the Furry Building where the people who live in the water and take a boat to work come out in a crowd to watch me run, Mom stopped running. “Mom, what are you doing? All those mermaids came on a boat just to see me. We’re going to miss them.” “I think I’ve made a mistake, Oscar,” Mom said, and turned back around. Her peg leg was back. “Don’t mess it up this time!” I said. “You’ve got to keep running or else you’ll get hurt!” But she just wouldn’t listen to reason, and the further we walked back toward the car, the worse her peg leg got.

By the end of that night she would barely even stand up, and asked me to pull her to the car on her rolly office chair. “Come on, I’ll be like Santa and you’ll be like Rudolph!” she said. She thinks she’s so funny. “I’ve got good news and bad news,” she said when we finally got home and she could put her peg leg up for the day. “The bad news is that I don’t think we’re going to get in any more running this year…” “Not with that attitude we’re not,” I grumbled. “But the good news is if you are patient and you go easy on me… Then we can go on another road trip and spend Christmas in the desert. How does that sound? Maybe we’ll even find some white dirt on the way.”

So now my job is to be patient because it’s naughty to pull Mom down any stairs, or run into her knees like a bowling ball when she gets home, or make her run across the room to stop me from I’m screaming at the collies that let the ping pong ball escape the table. If I do all those things, then we can pack up the covered wagon and go back to canyon country for Christmas, just like in the songs:

Deck the halls with bow-wows of holly, Fa la la la la, we’re going to Utah

-Oscar the Pooch



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