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…that time I almost fell off the edge of the Earth

This is a long one, but there’s so much adventure to tell you about… Tonight Mom has to host a “work event” until long past our bed time, so she said we didn’t have to wake up early to run. But at 3:30 we decided to wake her up early anyway. She had promised to take us to a trail that wasn’t technically off leash, but since the gate is closed till 7:30 and we would be running at first light, and it is Thursday and pouring with rain, she thought there was very little chance of anyone seeing us. Also, since this trail is only supposed to be for residents of a nearby town, we would be double outlaws, but almost nobody goes there. We parked about a quarter of a mile from the park entrance and then snuck in on foot, like bandits. There was a man standing by the gate, and he held down his hand for us to “smello” him, but we had better things to do. “Move over, Rover!” I said. “We’re being bandits!” Indeed, as Mom promised, he was the only soul we saw in almost 10 miles of trail.

Almost as soon as we got out of view of the parking lot Mom set us free! So when I say we ran 10 miles of trail, we probably ran more like 20, or 30, or 900 actual miles. But since Mom is keeper of the GPS, only her numbers count. Bodie and I ran through the brush up and down steep slopes. We got down on our bellies and commando crawled through shrubs and branches to sniff fun stuff. And when Mom called us we always came back, eventually. There were only a couple of (dozen) times that she had to stop and shout frantically for a few minutes before we came back, so overall I think we were very well behaved.

The loop we run has a long, 2-mile hill that climbs about 1500’, then a 2.5 mile “Sonic the Hedgehog” section where we run through the back woods and some very narrow singletrack along a narrow gorge, before running over a few more rolling miles back out of the park. We had come nearly to the bottom of the Sonic the Hedgehog portion, and Mom had slowed down to climb through some spots where the trail was washed out, while Bodie and I went Hedgehog hunting. Mom was starting to get the hang of balance, using all 4 of her paws to get through certain sections, but she’s not good at it yet so she had fallen pretty far behind when we got to a spot where there used to be a little bridge built into the gorge wall. The bridge was gone, and so was everything but a whole bunch of dirt. “Hey, look Mom, the bridge is down in the river!” I said, running down the slope a little ways to show her as she came around the corner.

Mom wasn’t good enough at four-legged running yet to get through this section, so she told us we were going to have to turn around. Then, much to my consternation, the dirt under my feet started to slide away. Every time I tried to take a step, the dirt slid down to the rushing river below me and I couldn’t get out. Mom, who doesn’t know that nothing bad could ever happen to me, was frightened. She wanted to come help me, but couldn’t get close enough to give me a boost. So she just stood there calling me, like that would help! Couldn’t she see I was trying?! Finally, I managed to pull myself back up onto more solid ground with my front paws like a person pulling themselves out of a swimming pool. “That sure was stupid,” Bodie said when I joined her again. “Whatever, I wasn’t scared. I had it under control the whole time,” I lied. “Anyway, Mom would have gotten me if I fell…”

But now the problem was that we couldn’t go forward, so we had to run back up and over the mountain again. The Sonic the Hedgehog trail is much steeper going up than coming down, and since we’d already run four hundred or more miles, my sister and I stayed closer to Mom to conserve our energy. So we were real close when we heard an “oof” and a thud behind us. We turned around to see Mom lying face-down on the trail. “What are you doing down there?” I asked. “You’ve got dirt all over you.” “I think it’s technically mud,” Bodie said, helpfully. “And it’s in your iPhone too.” Mom was NOT a good sport about it. She threw herself a little pity party right there in the middle of the woods in the rain, where no one was there to feel sorry for her. Well, no one but us, but Mom usually laughs at me when I fall off the couch. Mom is not an expert at getting attention like me, so she gave up after a few seconds, picked herself up and pulled herself together. Sorta…

-Oscar the Bandit



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