This morning Mom and I went to the same old boring Fart that we always go to. As is our routine, Mom wasn’t allowed to run until I had sniffed everything around the gate thoroughly, which always makes her impatient. “Come on Oscar!” Mom said. “I want to start before that gaggle of ladies takes over the whole trail.” “Well if you were in such a hurry then why did you leave me in the driveway while you kept going in and out of the house so many times?” I asked. Mom always thinks her dilly-dallying is so much more important than the business that I have to attend to… “I forgot something! We can’t keep track of our miles without my GPS!” Humans love counting and measuring things as much as I love squirrels. I don’t get it! “Well I just need to check out what’s been posted on my wall…” I said, straining at the leash to get my nose closer to the fencepost. But then the gaggle of ladies started stirring, and Mom used all her might to pull me away from my inbox and run out ahead of them. As soon as we started running I felt nature call, so I pulled over to the weeds on the side of the trail. “Can’t you hold it, Oscar?!” Mom asked, looking anxiously at the herd of ladies clucking and gobbling as they gained on us. “But I’ve got to go!” “Well then why didn’t you go at home?!” she whined, pulling me along. “But…” and then there was no use arguing anymore. We stopped. Mom sighed and pulled out a poop bag. “When you poop in front of people I have to pick it up, and now we’re going to fall even further behind!” “Relax, Mom,” I said in my life coach voice. “It’s not like it’s a race. And ladies love me! Maybe they’ll want to run with us and you can make new friends…” Mom is poorly socialized, so I’ve been trying to encourage her to go on more play dates so that she isn’t so anxious and aggressive around people all the time. So far I haven’t been very successful. “I’m sure they’re lovely friends, but I don’t want to spend our run staring at their butts!”
So we passed the ladies, but so slowly that it was more like we were running with them. I looked up at them and smiled, and one of them said, “Hey, buddy!” in the special dog voice, so I knew she meant me and not Mom. “See?” I told mom. “Ladies love me! Want me to introduce you?” But Mom ignored me and kept trying to pull me away from the ladies by running a micrometer per hour faster than them. I don’t get it… I love running with friends, and I love chasing bunnies and frenemies. What could be more fun? Then it hit me! Maybe Mom doesn’t like being the hunter… maybe she likes being chased!
When Mom’s acting territorial like this, I like to get her to behave by distracting her with a game. “Okay,” I said. “We can run away from the ladies, but you have to make them think you’re actually fast and you were going to pass them anyway. If they think that you’re as slow as you really are, then they’ll chase you and try to talk to you. And nobody wants that.” “Deal!” Mom said, straining at the leash.
When Mom is being lazy and running like an awkward water buffalo she has elbows that flop like chicken wings, and shoulders that roll forward like vulture wings, and a knee that swings all akimbo like she’s doing a hee-haw dance. She looks like a Muppet whose puppeteer has had a stroke. All of that ugliness irons out when she runs a little bit faster. But running fast takes concentration, and if Mom isn’t training for a race, she doesn’t bother… Unless someone she doesn’t like is watching her!
“I want you to run like you’re posing for a picture that is going to be your profile picture for a year, and every person you hate is going to see it. You have to run with your back straight, and your butt under you, and your knees high, and your chin high, and your elbows in. And you have to make it look so effortless that no one thinks you’re even running hard. You have to keep doing that until you count to 100. Then you can relax and be an awkward water buffalo for a 100 count… But then you have to run pretty again while you count to 90…”
When we were traveling and didn’t know any of the landmarks and everything was new and exciting, sometimes 5 miles could feel like five minutes. But here at The Fart we know every rock, bush, and tree so we have to pass 100,000 landmarks before we get to the finish and 5 miles can feel like 500. Humans love numbers as much as dogs love bunnies, so to break up the tedium, a counting task can make the run more fun for Mom. By the time we got back to the car, Mom had counted down from 100, and 90, and 80…and all the way down from 50, and she seemed relaxed and in a much better mood, and I got some eggs for a hard morning’s work.
-Oscar the Coach