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Summer is for watching, not running

Hi, guys. I’m here. Every year in July Mom locks us in the cool, dark house so that we can spend most of her free time watching the Tour de France. This year she decided to watch while riding her bike in the house, and I spent the time watching her ride the Tour de France. There’s a reason dogs don’t blog about cycling: it’s pretty boring. Even more boring was the week that she kept running into the people bathroom and calling down the sea-phone in sea lion barks, and then barely got out of bed at all. It was very boring indeed.

But now that the Tour is over we’re back to running. We’re not running much, though. Sometimes we only do half a run and then I watch the car while Mom goes into a place called the Jim and comes out smelling like metal. The car never needs a guard dog while we’re running, so I assume the Jim must be a pretty dangerous place even though I’ve never been inside. So every time Mom comes back still alive, I throw a face-licking party for her to let her know how happy I am that she survived another visit.

This week I sat Mom down for a Talk. “Mom, why don’t we run like we used to?” “I don’t know, Oscar. Running isn’t very exciting anymore, is it?” “What do you mean it’s not exciting? I mean… just the other day we…” I couldn’t think of anything good though. I like chasing bunnies and squirrels, but Mom doesn’t enjoy that kind of thing and her growling and leash tugging kind of takes the joy out of it. “Well we have to run a half marathong in a couple of weeks,” I reminded her. “I raised money for it and everything. You can’t give up on running now.” (If you want to help me raise money to buy toys for stray people puppies, here’s the link.) “You know that we could run 13 miles in our sleep,” she reminded me. “But you always say that the reason that we run so much is so that we can be ready for anything fun that comes along.” “Like what?” Mom asked. “Like… well… like half marathongs. Don’t you like races anymore?” “Not really,” Mom admitted. “Back before you were born I used to love races because I could run fast, and that made me feel strong. I didn’t mind being uncomfortable, because each race I might accomplish something new, and even if I didn’t I still learned something. But then I got old, or I got sick, or… I don’t know what happened, but running got really, really hard and I got slow. It’s unpleasant to suffer for longer and not feel like you’re learning or accomplishing anything new.” “But Mom, running isn’t just about running fast and winning. It’s about seeing the world, and feeling your body become a part of the world as the uphills squeeze your muscles, and the downhills pull you like a leash, and you breathe in as much air as you can until you are made of the same stuff as nature is.” “I used to feel that way, Oscar. But now when I run I drop out of my body instead of dropping in. I just feel like garbage.”

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with garbage. Sometimes there are snacks in it. But people feel differently, I guess.

Even so, we still have to run a half marathong in a couple of weeks, so this morning Mom and I went to The Fart to run 10 miles. I let her sleep in until after sunrise, which meant it was above the dog-melting temperature of 65 degrees. When I have to run in the sun in August, I get all soft and droopy, and my paws splat on the ground and stick there a bit on every step. Luckily, Mom runs so slow that even though she was still solid, she wasn’t hard to keep up with.

We ran our regular loop with a few extra bits added on so that I could drink at 3 water fountains. But when we were a little more than a mile away from the car, Mom tried to turn around. “Nooooo!” I said. I didn’t say it by doggy telepathy, but instead by running as slow as a turtle and pulling backward on the leash. “It’s too hot!” “It is NOT hot, you big baby! It’s like 65 degrees out here and there’s a breeze.” “If we go this way we have to run 4 more miles!” “But Oscar, there are more water fountains if we go back the way we came. And I can take a picture of you next to that cool-looking dried up salt lake. Going the short way all we’ll see is the freeway and the DPW parking lot.” “But if we run with the freeway we can be back at the car in less than 15 minutes,” I pointed out. I was beginning to understand how running wasn’t very fun at all when you feel like garbage. When it’s cool, I’m a very strong and solid dog who can bound up steep hills and bounce through thick brush, but now that I was melty and thirsty. I didn’t even have the energy to do fun things like bark at stocky men, or shout insults at other dogs. Had Mom been feeling like this on our runs? She must love me very much to put herself through that every day, just so that we could spend time together.

Because Mom hates running and loves me, she let me win the argument. We turned back around and ran the short way back to the car. I didn’t even have the energy to help her drive, or lick the delicious sweat off her face at the red lights. All I wanted to do was sit on my fainting couch in the back and pant while the air conditioning blasted in my face. When we got home, Mom finished our run on the dreadmill while I watched her, just like I did while she was riding the Tour de France.

Oscar the Splat



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