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Our life is so tame now that there aren’t many things to tell you about that are different from the normal things that everydog does every day. When you see us now, it is hard to believe that Mom and I were once wild, and have climbed mountains and run thousands of miles together. Mom is back to walking on two legs, but slowly and carefully like an Old. While Mom has been resting I have been resting too, and have napped all the thousands of the heavy miles out of my legs. Now I can run and sprint as weightlessly as a puppy again. While mom’s legs hold still on the ground for a couple of beats longer than they used to, I can magically hold still in the air for a moment before gently sweeping my paws over the ground as gracefully as a robust ballerina.


Mom and I have never been so badly matched as dance partners, so there are only so many places where Mom can walk with her elderly meatwad shuffle and I can frolic like a light-footed freight train. But I’m so starved for sprinting that even the old familiar places are exciting. When I smelled the beach coming, I whimpered a happy song and crawled up to the copilot’s seat to look out the front window for all the dogs just waiting for me to chase them around in the sand.


Hey, ladies. Need some inspiration?

When Mom can run, my off-leash adventuring goes side to side across the trail like windshield wipers. By the time I’m finished investigating a smell or pulling on a stick to see if it’s still a tree, Mom has run by and I need to sprint to catch up. But Mom moves so slow nowadays, that I run more like a yoyo and have plenty of time to check out what’s ahead before she catches up. If she gets lonely, Mom calls me back to report on what I’ve found and the butts I’ve sniffed, and then she reminds me that I’m a good boy and pats me on the butt to inspire us both to keep going.


Mom set me free from the car, and I bounded out onto the open sandy area that is like a staging area and potty for everyone getting ready to walk along the trails on top of the sand cliffs. I ran up to a curly black floof and followed him around in a slow, excited circle, chasing his butt while he chased mine. The more we went around, the faster my tail tick-tocked, and the taller my hackles pumped up. Then I made nose-to-butt contact and my tail slowed down in concentration while my ears leaned forward to get ready to chase. Instead, he sniffed my crotch so intently for so long that I got an irresistible urge to pee. He leaned in closer to smell my pee as best he could and I lost my nosehold on his butthole. So when I had finished, I needed to change my angle to get a better sniff at his butt again. “Well that’s rude,” I said, as he moved himself into a squat. Then, at the very last second, when he was about to take a crap on my face, I yoyoed back to Mom. “Hey! You’ll never guess what this guy just did…” I gushed. “It was awesome! You’ll never guess!”

The different thing about being a yoyo instead of a windshield wiper is that windshield wipers get to be what Mom calls an “asshole” without consequences. When you’re running past everyone like a howling ambulance, you can bark any dog in the face until he lies down and cowers below you, and then you’ll be sprinting away down the path before anyone nips and things get real. But when you’re a yoyo, bullying can get awkward because you’re traveling behind the same dogs for a long time. Once you’re done playing with them and no longer want to chase, wrestle, or run them over like a speeding bus, they may still be there blocking your path and complaining about how you kept barking in their face when they called “time out.” That’s why Yoyos have to use “manners,” which is when you pretend like you care if someone likes you. I learned some manners in puppy school, but didn’t pay much attention because it wasn’t something that I ever imagined having to use in real life.

I continued guiding Mom along the beach trail, sometimes sniffing butts and crotches, sometimes playing tag with my new friends, sprinting through the fingers of ice plants and leaping over the dunes. Sometimes I followed other two- and four-legged hikers that I found interesting and pretended that I was part of their families, just to see what it would feel like. Whenever I got too wrapped up in fun, I would hear Mom’s voice and remember that I hadn’t checked on her in awhile. When she saw me barreling toward her, she would crouch down like a baseball catcher. Once I saw her take the position, I sped up to a gallop, only slowing down at the last second to dock my face between her hands so that she would think that she caught me. Then she would kiss my forehead, call me a good boy, and smack my butt to tell me it was okay to go explore again.

Oscar the Pooch



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