A couple of months ago my Friends up in the mountains called Mom to let us know that they were only letting a few very special runners run the Running with the Bears half marathong because of the boogeyvirus. Obviously I am a very special runner, so they told me that if I would raise money for the stray people puppies, they would let us run the race the regular way. “You mean I get to help my Friends AND visit them at this time when everyone’s so loney?!” I said. “YES!!! Yes! A million times yes!” Because I’m a generous and kind-hearted dog, and dogs of a feather stick together, I have a lot of generous, kind-hearted Friends who helped me raise money for the people puppies. People miss races, so I was really excited to tell them about mine.
But then the boogeyvirus struck again. My Friends in the mountains called back a couple of weeks later to say it was too dangerous for us to run around their cows breathing their air. I understand. The boogeyvirus travels when people’s face goop goes into other people’s faces, and the only way I could think for that to happen is if people are licking each other. I humans don’ lick each other as much as dogs do, but when they feel the love they put their faces on someone else’s face and suck, and that’s how kisses and boogeyvirus happens, I think. That’s why they have to wear masks to cover their faces, because love is just that powerful that without a reminder, people would forget and be sucking each other’s faces all the time.
Anyway, bears don’t kiss. So even though I couldn’t run with people, I could still run with bears. So that’s what we did. Mom found us a flat-ish trail through the woods, and we bought a bunch of bear-themed outfits to take to Bear Country. When the bears arrived, Mom didn’t put them in a cage, but left them in a pile on the end of the bed. There they sat mominously waiting for Mom to go to sleep so they could eat her up like Goldilocks. The night before we were supposed to leave, Mom walked into the bedroom and gasped, “Oscar! What happened to the stuffed bear?!” “Oh, don’t worry. I killed him. It’s safe now,” I assured her. While she had been working, I snuck up on The Bear, ripped his face open and tore his brains out. “But he was for the race!” Mom said, picking up his brains from where they’d splattered all over the bed and floor. “Now I’ll have to sew him back together.” She took the first aid kit out from under the sink and performed brain surgery on the bear. When she was done and Bear was laying in recovery, I sniffed him. He was still missing an ear, his face was kind of lopsided, and he looked like he was winking. “He looks kind of weird,” I said. “I don’t think that you should be a plastic surgeon.”
We got to the trail early so that we could run before it got dog-meltingly hot, and before it was time to run, Mom cracked open the all organic, all natural breakfast can she had bought for my pre-race meal. It smelled delicious, but as she poured out the delicious smelling sauce the same consistency, color and smell of diarrhea, she screamed. It sloshed out of the bowl and onto the bed. “EAT IT! EAT IT!” she shouted, moving the bowl and spilling even more gravy in the process. Then she frantically looked around the Wagon groaning and panting until she found some toilet paper and dabbed up what gravy she could. Finally, she shoved the wet bowl with its delicious smelling turd of turkey pate in the middle. “Go on, bub,” she coaxed. “Eat your breakfast.” “Are you crazy?!” I cowered. “Look what it did to you. That food is no good.” She found a flat place to store the bowl where it wouldn’t slosh everywhere, and tried several times for the rest of the morning to trick me into eating it. She covered it with kibble, fed me treats with my face over the bowl, hid it and then pulled it back out like it was a new bowl, but I’m no fool. It took real bravery for me to stand up to Danger Breakfast, because we had a long way to run.
The trail was shady and cool, and its path followed the squiggle of a river at a safe height so we wouldn’t get wet. It was about 3 miles long, so running to the end and back twice would be about 12 miles, and then we’d have to find another mile somewhere. Luckily, after we crossed the starting line, Mom realized she forgot something and we had to go back. When we did, we got not just the water bowl she’d forgotten, but also the extra mile. I refused my Danger Breakfast once again, and we resumed running.
Mom likes to show off on the internet with pictures of me posing handsomely, but we both get real embarrassed when someone catches us actually taking the pictures. Since we planned to take lots of pictures today, it was good that we were out earlier than most other people. But have you ever noticed that the moment you want privacy, like when Mom is trying to use the dog bathroom, or when you’re arranging your deformed bear in front of the Witch so you can run past it a couple of times barking and looking fast, that’s the moment when a stranger will pop out of the trees to watch you? Well… that’s exactly what happened. I was sitting patiently behind Mom, who was bent over with her butt in the air trying to get Bear to sit still without falling over, when suddenly a man in a stupid hat popped out of thin air to see her being embarrassing. “Gotta get those pictures,” he judged. Mom let out a little scream and stood up so the man could talk to her face, not her butt. “Er, um… yeah… don’t ask,” she said, hiding Bear behind her back. Then we stood awkwardly waiting for the earth to do us a favor and swallow us up, or the man to do us a favor and disappear.
We ran up the trail, then down the trail, then Mom tried to make me eat Danger Breakfast while she drank water at the aid station that was also the Covered Wagon, and then we did it all again. As we were running the last mile to the finish, a big family stopped to cheer for us. “What an adorable running partner,” said the lady. “Aw, you’re so nice to say so, but she’s really only a 5,” I said. “Thanks, I think so too,” said the 5. “Ooooooh. She was talking to you,” said the 10.
When we finished, I refused Danger Breakfast while Mom made herself a cup of tea, and then we walked down to the river to enjoy the scenery together. We sat in the shade looking at the water and shaking our faces at the bugs trying to fly into our eyes. Suddenly, Mom stood up, stuck her toe in the water, and then started taking her shorts off. “What are you doing?” I asked. “I’m going to clean off,” she said. “I stink.” “Aw, you just smell like crotch, and armpits, and sweat,” I reassured her. “No need to get in that cold water. I love all your stinks.” “Well it’s grossing me out, and I’m attracting bugs” she said, dunking her shorts in the water and then doing the same with her shirt. “Why don’t you just change?” I asked. “Because,” she said, pulling with all her might to get her tall socks over her wet legs, “I want to take more pictures, and when we do I want to be wearing the same clothes…” “But we already ran 13 miles,” I said. “That’s what a half marathong is…”
-Oscar the bear-dog