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If a dog runs in the woods, and doesn’t post it on Facebook…

We woke up this morning to a very unpleasant surprise: my Facebook fan page had disappeared without a trace! Mom searched frantically for it, but it was as if it had never existed. “Don’t worry, Mom. The Wetlands that Smell Like a Fart are right next to Facebook, and I bet they’ve been waiting for a chance to repay the favor of all the patrols I do over there,” I reassured her. “I’ll just call Zuck and have him recover it for us. In the meantime, let’s go run.” Reluctantly Mom let herself be dragged into the driver’s seat so that she could drive us to the trail.

Since we’re on the Olympic Peninsula, which is a very famous place that is also easy to get to from a major city, we were afraid that the trail might be busy, but it was so well hidden down a dirt road that we could hardly find it ourselves when we parked right on top of it, so Mom didn’t even bother with the leash. Now that we’re both getting very comfortable with responsibility, and she trusts me to come when she needs me we don’t use the leash much.

At the start of the trail there was a sign that said that this trail was an ancient route that had been used for hundreds of years by the people (and dogs?) who used to live in these mountains. I liked to imagine what it would be like if Mom and I had to run this trail to do our errands every day rather than the freeway that we have at home. The sign also said that in different ancient times it was turned into a trail by something called the CCC. “Mom, what’s the Cimillion Conservation Core?” I asked. “Civilian Conservation Corps,” she said, because she always has to sound smarter than me. “Back in the Great Depression they created jobs by building what are still many of best trails in the country, and that way people who couldn’t afford to eat now had money to buy bacon.” “That’swhat we’re doing!” I said. “We’re curing your Great Depression and giving you something to do by traveling and writing about it. Is it paying for bacon?” “No, we don’t make any money doing this. But maybe if we create something really great together then I people will be impressed that I’m your assistant and want to hire me.” I liked the idea that I was helping by being such an interesting dog. “…But no one looks at what a beautiful thing you’ve created if you don’t have a lot of followers, and we just lost your Facebook page…” she said, and I could see the Great Depression take over her again.

Just like I have a leash to Mom, The Witch that Lives in Mom’s phone has a leash on her. The Witch has been good about giving Mom responsibility on this trip, and Mom has been good about having that responsibility and not looking at The Witch unless she needs to navigate or take a picture. But not today. For two miles she talked to The Witch and ignored me and her surroundings. I could tell that I was going to need to be a hard core life coach today. “It’s okay, Mom. Just because no one can see the pictures, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t there… We’re in a beautiful place right now, see?” “But Oscar, you’re just The Talent. You don’t know how much hard work goes in to being your webmaster. And anyway, we can’t be on this trail forever. Isn’t sharing it with other like-minded runners through pictures and stories a good way to prolong the experience?” “Sure, but you’re not experiencing this trail at all with your face stuck in your phone like that!” “But I need to see if our friends at Facebook get back to me about what’s going on… and the cell signal is good up here…”

I could tell that ordinary, everyday brilliant life coaching wasn’t going to get the job done here. I was going to have to do something really drastic. So I came up with a plan…

In addition to the dozens of portraits of me Mom has been taking every day, she has also been taking video so that she can relive the experience in even more detail when we get home. Usually I love taking video because it means that Mom gets me very excited, and then we run back and forth while she laughs and tells me that I’m ruining it. But this time she was taking too long, and was too focused on The Witch, so it was an opportunity for a teachable moment. While she was picking moss off a log, I ran into the woods to chase An Exciting Thing. Because she didn’t yell at me right away, I kept running and running until I was very absorbed in The Exciting Thing and Mom seemed like a distant memory.

Off in the distance I could hear Mom’s shouting getting more and more frantic, but who wants to hang out with someone who can’t pay attention to the handsome dog right in front of her? So I finished up with The Exciting Thing before I came back to her. I think I was only gone for a few minutes, but Mom said that it felt like a lifetime. “Here I am!” I announced as I ran up like a thunder dog to let Mom smoosh her face into my noggin. “Oh, Oscar. I thought I had lost you for good! I thought that I heard you playing in some water, but then I realized that it was just a drainage pipe. My whole life passed before my eyes!” “So you were paying attention to your surroundings?” I asked, making sure that she got my point. “Yes! And I didn’t want to be up here if I couldn’t be here with you. I would have rather been anyplace with you than this beautiful place without you, but I would stay up here forever looking for you if you were lost.” “Was it more or less scary than when you lost my Facebook page?” I asked. “Much, much more scary. The Facebook page is nothing. It’s just a place where I post photos and let people know that you’ve told a new story. But it’s not the memories themselves. The blog is still there with all the memories, and I still have all the photos backed up… somewhere. We can rebuild the Facebook page, but I could never replace you! Without you, who would I take pictures of?” “And what about Instagram?” “Oscar, I turn 35 this week. Instagram is a millennial thing, I’m from the generation when the internet used words. I don’t know if I can ever understand Instagram…” she wailed. “Instagram has words in it… They’re just real small, in an ugly font, and have hashtags in front of them. You can learn to use it…” I wasn’t sure, but she was getting so upset that I thought that I should lie to her so she would feel good about herself.

Now that Mom had learned her lesson about her phone-leash, we resumed running. We were running down the far side of the mountain now, where The Witch couldn’t get to us, and the scenery was even more beautiful than before. Everything was even greener, even the dead trees were prettier, and we had to climb over really scary log bridges that only had railings on one side. At first I was scared to cross. Mom made it seem like a Scary Thing, but then I just realized that she was just doing that crazy person thing she does in high places. So the next log bridge we came to, I ran across as Thunder Dog to collect my kisses and pats on the other side.

When we were finished, Mom said that we had to hurry to our next destination. She had found a “fancy” RV park with electricity and wifi. “And then we can spend the evening creating a temporary Facebook page and posting all of your good photos to Instagram.” She seemed excited. “You’re good at words, so you tell me some good words and I’ll put some hashtags in front of them, and then we’ll win Instagram.” “And make sure to use emojis in your captions, for the people who can’t read…” I reminded her. I wasn’t sure Mom was really understanding how to use Instagram, but she seemed enthusiastic and offered me some Chicken McRotguts as a reward for the long trip, so I guess it couldn’t hurt.

It didn’t quite work out that way, because the fancy campground has not-fancy wifi and all the people there are using it to watch movies rather than enjoy the nature. Every time we try to upload an image, I am just so handsome that the wifi loses control and shuts down. That’s how I know that the wifi must be a lady (hashtag ladywifi). But Mom says that there’s a Starbucks in town, and we can figure it out tomorrow.

-Oscar the Thunder Dog

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