Last night was the shortest night of the year. Or maybe it was the night before? I can never remember if the solstice is supposed to be the night before the 21st, or the night after the 21st… Dogs aren’t so good at astronomy. Anyway, we are at the coldest, darkest time of the year — the time of the year when you’re just supposed to give up and sit on the couch in ugly sweaters drinking eggs and eating cookies. But Mom continues to rip me out of my blanket nest every morning to escort her on her runs. This makes me The Most Patient Dog in the World.
This morning was one of those cold, dark runs where nothing interesting happens. We were on My Trail (which is pretty empty because all of the interesting stuff has frozen to death) when I stopped for a potty break. Once I had fertilized the grass off the side of the footpath which is off the side of the main trail (no bag needed, thank you very much!) and we started to run again, Mom started hobbling and flailing like someone with a rock in their paw. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Nah, just kidding! I didn’t ask. I don’t actually care what she does as long as she keeps running. Sometimes she just volunteers information as if the world were actually interested in her petty dramas. There’s a reason why I’M the internet celebrity and Mom is not: because people’s lives simply aren’t very interesting most of the time.
But anyway, Mom thought I might be interested to know that it felt like there was something stuck to her shoe. “Hmmm…” I said, in that way that you do when you’re not really paying attention, but you want to be polite because you’re the Most Patient Dog in the World. But Mom isn’t fluent in Dog and she thinks it means, “oh DO go on!” “I think it might be a rock…” she mused. So she started banging her foot real hard into the ground and dragging and pawing the shoe to try to get the “rock” out of the tread. I was really glad that no one was out there in the dark to see us. “Or maybe I stepped on something sticky?” she wondered aloud. “Don’t look at me,” I thought. “I pooped at least 18 inches off the trail…” Humans really think the world stops for their drama, and Mom stopped running altogether after a couple of minutes to pick her foot up and inspect the bottom of her shoe. The problem: one of the lugs on the sole of her shoe was starting to peel off. She tried to rip it all the way off so that it would stop flapping, but the whole midsole panel started to come with it. So she quit picking at it and just flapped home like that.
Mom has turned into that old guy at races who doesn’t know when to replace her gear. You know the guy… he smells like a giant armpit, he’s wearing cotton t-shirt from the 1987 Palookaville 10K and Fun Run that is so threadbare that you can see his back hair through it, and the tennis shoes he bought in the sale section at K-mart back when K-mart was.
After a year of trying to keep up with me, this is who my Mom has become: She has literally run the soles off of her feet. As she flapped and hobbled the mile and a half back to the house, an unauthorized trail user started to come out of the dark. “What the heck are you looking at?!?!” I shouted at him, as I yanked Mom away to where he couldn’t see her.
Seriously, if I weren’t there to take care of this person I think she would be wandering barefoot through the cold in the middle of the night singing nonsense songs and staring at her stupid phone until she wandered off a cliff. She would never survive in the wild without me.
-Oscar the Most Patient Dog in the World