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The scariest thing

Today I got to run in the Wetlands that Smell Like a Fart in the daylight. That means I got to see (and not just smell) the squawking birds, the people taking pictures of the squawking birds and the other Friends running by. I also saw the world’s bravest duck, which stood silent and still in the tall grass while I ran at it at full speed before Mom figured out what was going on.

But I also saw a very, very scary thing: a tall man in tight shorts. He was running up ahead of us, about half a mile from the turn-around point, and at first I thought he was a Friend. He was running only a little slower than we were (I dragged Mom as best I could to catch up), so it took us a long time to pass him, and I had several minutes to study him and his very-tight compression shorts. But then he did a very suspicious thing: he stopped to fiddle with his phone. That was my first red flag, didn’t he know we were in a race? Then, as we got close to him, he started running again, which also was very suspicious. “What are you running from, buddy?” I asked.

As we drew even to him, I looked up into his face for the first time and smiled. What I saw there, chilled me to my bones: this man was NOT overwhelmed by my cuteness; he seemed indifferent to me. Clearly, he must be a sociopath. So I growled and started barking at him. Mom, who is not as cute as I am, and therefore doesn’t have a reliable sociopath test, told me to cool my jets. But I didn’t trust this tall man in his small shorts one bit, so even when we were past him I had to slow down so that I could keep checking over my shoulder. He also slowed down to give us some space – a clearly guilty behavior; what was he trying to hide??

Finally Mom said, “On your mark, get set, go!” and started sprinting. For once, she dragged me as I kept my eye on the psycho to let him know that he wasn’t fooling anyone, and I was on to him. But there was one more problem: in about a quarter mile we were going to have to turn around and pass him again. When we got to the turn-around point, Mom made me hide in a bush with my back to him as he ran by for the last time. He kept going straight to murder some less alert dog, and Mom and I went home safe.

–Oscar the Pooch


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