top of page


This morning we drove to the dog beach just like we’ve been driving to the dog beach every weekend since the vet put a bum into Mom’s leg. But this time when we tried to turn into the big car kennel at the top of the beach, the gate was closed and there were two flashing cars blocking the entrance. “What’s going on, Mom?” I asked. “Should you show them your magic talisman that lets you park anywhere?” “I don’t think that it would matter, Oscar. A woman died here yesterday. I guess they still haven’t found her. When somebody dies, or even gets very hurt, everyone needs to give the emergency workers room to do their jobs, and that includes the people with bum legs.” “What did she die of?!” I asked, alarmed. Dying was something that happened in books and movies, it didn’t happen to people in places that I call home. “She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was walking with a friend and a dog when there was a landslide and the cliff fell down on their heads. She was buried under the sand from a 200 feet above her head.” “Was the dog okay?!” I asked. “Yes, the dog and the friend were pulled out and are okay, but they’ve been digging for more than a day, and they still haven’t found her.”

Because of the sandslide, everyone was parking along the fast road and walking to a less used back entrance to the trails at the tops of the cliffs. When we finally found a spot a quarter mile from the entrance, we had to squish ourselves against the other parked cars as we walked not to get squashed by the fast cars. It was a good thing that Mom had just started walking without the fake legs, because her clacking legs don’t squish so well, and we would have been trapped in the car. Instead, Mom held her fake legs sideways to scare the charging cars into giving us more room, and crowded me against the cars’ walls. Whenever a big stampede of cars all came at once, we hid between the parked cars until they had passed.

I was surprised that Mom hadn’t given up on the beach today because of all the danger, but when we got to the trail and walked past another pack of flashing cars, she put her fake legs back under her pawpits, dropped my leash, and stood around like she was waiting for something. After a few minutes she started waving her paws in the air, and said in her teakettle voice, “Do you see who it is???” I didn’t see who it was, so I ran up the hill to check. When I didn’t see anyone interesting up there, I ran through the bushes. The more I ran around, the more Mom waved her arms until I was running around in a frenzy and forgot I was even looking for someone. Then, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of the best looking dog I’d ever seen outside of a mirror; it was my long-lost twin sister Bodie and her mom!!!  I sprinted down to them and did my happy dance while Bodie waited to be set free, and then we ran and chased each other around in the sand, waiting for someone to come along that we could gang up on.

Because there was nowhere for Mom to sit, the moms clacked up the hill until we found a place where Bodie and I could run and run, and the moms could stand and stand. We passed many paths that went down the dunes to the beach, but The Law was standing in the way of each one. Instead of looking hard, every officer’s face was soft and sorry that he couldn’t let the dogs go down to run in the waves. Usually when people are told they can’t do something they get angry, but and every person that was turned away from the sad police walked away real quietly and somberly rather than angry.

Because there was no one for us to gang up on yet, Bodie started digging for gold while I supervised her work. Then, when she ran off to check if a puppy was worth bullying, I lay down in her hole, which was cool, and damp, and perfectly Oscar-sized. For the next hour, we stayed in that spot, sunbathing or digging until a puppy came along that we could gang up on. Then Bodie would give me The Look, and we would chase the dumb puppy until I got up alongside him and sideswiped him to throw him off balance, and then when I backed off, Bodie would dart in from the side and knock him over. That was The Moms’ cue to start shouting at us, so that I could come running back to Mom, while Bodie’s Mom would come running back to Bodie, and then we would all meet at my four-legged Mom and sit for treats.

Sometimes we picked a target that was just too far away. Bodie and I would sprint until we remembered that we’re both fat and out of shape from having broken moms, and then Bodie would remind me, “Protect the hole!” And I would repeat, “Protect the hole!” And we would chase each other to see who got to sit in the cool hole while we panted.

Even though it was a collection of microadventures rather than one big quest, I was pooped by the time our run was over and Mom and I clacked alone among the zooming cars back to our own. This was the first time Mom had traveled more than a mile in one day in weeks. For my part, I hadn’t run intervals since I got a full time job, and I was bushed.

It was a good thing Mom and I were so drained, because we are spending the rest of our free time working on my mom-woire, which is lazy work. We’ve finished a first draft, but just like today’s run, it is still a bunch of small chapters that don’t all tell the same story. Now that we have relived our adventures over the past year, it is time to tell the story as one big quest, with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Life isn’t like a mapped trail that you run in one direction until you’re back at the car, wiser and calmer. Life has a lot more running in circles, covering the same ground, or getting lost. And since it very rarely brings you back to the same place where you started, it’s hard to tell what twists are important, and where the story begins and ends. It is only when you’ve grown and then go back and relive your old adventures that you can try on your old self and see all the places that don’t fit anymore. Now we’ve found those differences, but we’ve still got to step back so that we can see them all together and see where they lead.

Oscar the Sandpooch



bottom of page