This morning Mom drove me through a dream to get to a place I’d never been to before. I know it was a dream because of the way I knew the ocean was there without seeing it, because I could smell it. All the world was a blank grey, but I could make things appear next to the car by looking right at them. When I looked away from them after we passed, they disappeared back into the grey. It was like only the things that I imagined existed, but only for the time I was imagining them.
When we came out on the other side of the dream, we were in a magic place where real live horses were roaming around right next to the car, and old boats grew up out of the ground. “Mom, are we in a García Márquez novel?!” I asked. I read 100 Years of Solitude in my obedience school, of course, so I knew magical realism when I was sitting in it.
“No, this is just what the coast is like,” Mom said. But in her civil disobedience school they only taught her useless skills like how to not bark at strangers who look different from you, so I don’t think she’s read a lot of Latin American literature.
When we got out of the car, Mom had to find a Tardis, and we walked past many strangers. Unlike normal strangers, every one of these humans liked me, wanted to pat me, and said nice things to me; even the man ones that I had to bark at. “Mom, what are we doing in this wonderful place?!” I asked.
“You’re going to do an obstacle race!” Mom explained. “We’re going to run to lots of different obstacles, and you’re going to do brave things and I’m going to take pictures and you’re going to look awesome on Facebook!”
“What’s an obstaple?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Like crawling through mud and jumping over stuff and things. I didn’t really read the website that closely. You’ll love it. I brought treats.”
Now I was real excited to do obstaple racing and show off how good I am at getting dirty and looking cool in pictures. But I guess Mom didn’t read the website closely at all because not only did we show up 2 hours early, but when she picked up my number she found out that the humans had to do the obstaples too.
“Oh, well I can’t do that,” Mom told the lady with the t-shirts. “I have a medical issue. But he’ll do the obstacles and it’ll be fine. We should probably drop down to the 3 mile, though.”
“Mom, what’s a medical issue?” I asked.
“It means that I’m wearing socks,” she said.
“Say no more,” I said. I know about humans and socks: how they can’t do cool things sometimes because they’re not safe unless their socks are dry.
Since we were so early, we had to wait a really long time before they would let me look cool on the obstaples. While we waited more and more dogs kept showing up, but none of the people wanted the dogs to play with each other, which was a real stupid idea because all the dogs did want to play with each other. I strained to get to all of the would-be Friends that were just out of reach, and barked at everyone who got to play without me. I was already having a great time obstaple racing, but Mom was getting more and more grumpy the longer we waited. “Are you feeling alright?” I asked her when I looked at her for the first time all morning. “You’re smelling kind of purple and looking a little ashy.”
“It’s my lizard parts, Oscar. I’m so cold that I can’t feel my arms. How am I going to take pictures without any arms?”
Finally they let us start running. Mom told me, “On your mark, get set, go!” and we ran to where all of my fans were waiting to see me do something with a big swimming pool full of mud. Mom went next to it and told me to jump up on the edge. Then she told me to jump in, which of course I did. I was expecting squishy, slippery mud, but I fell in all the way up to my shoulders! She tricked me!
“What the blazes is this crap?! This isn’t mud, it’s water!” I said, hopping out of the side of the trick-pool right next to where I’d jumped in. “Hey, guys!” I said to my fans, “It’s wet in that thing. Don’t go in there!” Mom tried to get me to jump back in, but I’m no fool and jumped down onto solid ground next to her. “Let’s get out of here,” I said.
“Good enough,” she said loud enough for everyone to hear her, and then we ran away as fast as we could.
Next we jumped over some stuff and came to a couple of planks of wood pointing up in the air like an arrow. After a couple of tries I figured out that Mom wanted me to run all the way up over the top, and then back down the other side. She was so proud of me for figuring it out and cheered like a one-person party. I grinned and wagged my tail, and we were about to run away when this lady said, “You’re supposed to go over it with him.”
“I have a medical issue,” Mom explained, and then turned to run away again.
“Well you’re supposed to do a penalty…” the lady said.
“Yeah, I’m not doing that. Bye,” Mom said. She was in such a hurry to get out of there that she didn’t even try to take a picture of me being cute.
After that, Mom was grumpy again. “Mom, why didn’t you just do the burpees?” I asked. “When you do them at home it’s so fun to bark at you every time you jump, and kiss your face every time you come down to the ground.”
“Oscar, have you seen all the horse dung in this field?!”
“Of course I have! What do you think I’ve been rolling in all morning?”
“There’s no way I’m putting my hands or face on this ground. People have died from ingesting livestock poop on these kinds of races.”
Next we reached a bunch of netting that was real close to the ground and had mud all underneath it. Mom stood to the outside and held treats through the netting. I ran along beside the mud until I was standing right next to her, and sat so that she would give me a treat. “No, Oscar. You’ve got to go through,” she said, and showed me back around to the front of the net-mud.
“But I can’t reach the treats from over here,” I said, coming back to stand next to her. She threw some treats through the net into the mud. “Now what did you have to go and do a thing like that for?!” I asked. “If I wanted those, now I would have to crawl through all that mud to get them.”
“Okay, failed obstacle,” she told the guy standing there, and because he was nice to us and there was no cow plop around, Mom let him make her do 5 push-ups. Then we ran away.
Next we came to a little mud-pond. “Go ahead, Oscar!” Mom said. “Go for a swim.”
“Refreshments!” I said, and started guzzling the delicious muddy, cow-poopy water.
“No, Oscar. Get in!” Mom said, and threw in a tennis ball that she found on the ground.
I knew this game, so I stuck my paw out to see how deep the puddle got. “Oh, no.” I said. “This water is at least as high as my chest. The ball is gone, unless I can drink the whole thing dry.”
“But it’s only like 8 inches away from your nose!” Mom complained. “Can’t you go get it?!”
“And get wet!? [glug, glug] Are you kidding?! [glug]” I said, slurping up more water.
So we left and kept running until we met a man who was standing near a bunch of big, black tires. “You’re going to pull the tire down the hill, and then back up the hill,” he told Mom.
Mom looked at the tire. “But where do I attach it to the dog?” she asked.
“Um, I think that you’re supposed to drag it,” I told her. “I’ll run with you and cheer you on.”
“This is stupid,” Mom said, but she did put the tire leash around her waist and start running with it.
“Now you know what it’s like running with you!” I told her, bounding alongside her.
“You’re not helping,” Mom grumbled. “Of all the moments you pick this one not to pull?”
We passed many more obstaples, doing some of them and skipping some of them in protest for their unethical treatment of socks until we reached a bucket of tennis balls. “You and the dog can each take one tennis ball at a time from the left bucket, and then you’ve got to run over and put them in the right bucket,” the man explained.
Mom handed me a tennis ball.
“I’m not a ball dog,” I said.
“C’mon. Take it,” Mom said, shoving the ball in my face. I moved my snout this way and that to show her that there were certain things that handsome dogs just would not do. So Mom took an armful of balls and ran across to the other bucket with them.
“If the dog didn’t take one, you have to bring it back,” said the man.
“I think you people are taking this way too seriously,” Mom said, bringing her armful of balls, minus one, back to the first bucket. Then we ran back and forth lots of times while Mom fetched the tennis balls and moved them to the bucket on the other side. “You’re the worst dog ever,” Mom told me each time she picked up a ball.
“Good girl, Mom!” I said. “You’re doing great!” I said, running alongside her.
Finally, after many more obstaples that I don’t mind saying that I rocked at, despite Mom’s strange behavior and impossible-to-understand instructions, we came to an obstacle called The Marsh, which was a very large puddle with lots of grasses sticking out of it. “Mom, what are we going to do now?” I asked.
“Forget it. There’s no way around and I’m sick of getting yelled at,” Mom said and marched right in.
“But your socks!” I said, splashing in after her. But she was already almost out the other side and scrambling up the bank.
I could see a big arch ahead where people were cheering for me, but first I would have to go through a few more surprises. There was no way to go around, because the nets that marked the course were tied to the sides of the obstaples. The first one was a giant box of balls that Mom just stomped right into, and then turned around for me to follow. But the edge of the box was too skinny for me to stand on the edge and check it out, and the box was too high for me to stick my nose in to sniff what was going on. I did not like that at all, so I pretended to try to get in and waited for Mom to come back out and tell me that we could skip this one too. But she didn’t leave the box of balls, and eventually there was nothing to do but jump in after her. To my relief, it wasn’t so bad.
But then, the very last thing we had to do was get in another pool of water. Since Mom’s socks were already ruined, she stepped right into the pool and turned around again for me to follow. There was enough of an edge on this obstaple for me to see what was going on, and I am not a water dog. “Nuh uh!” I said, making myself an anchor.
“Come on, bub!” Mom said, giving an encouraging tug on the leash.
I spread all four of my legs out wide for stability, got my body as low to the ground as I could, and pulled back until my collar squashed my ears forward onto my face. “No way José!” I said.
“Aw, cut it out!” said Mom, and gave a tug on the leash that pulled me into the water right in front of all those people.
“Hey, look! I can run in this!” I said. “You see me swimming, Mom? That’s what I’m doing!” I explained as I ran through the knee-deep water. We hopped out the other side, and a lady handed us our medals, as we ran by. But we didn’t stop running.
Mom kept running right past all of my adoring fans, down the long driveway, and straight to the car. She didn’t dry me off like she normally does after a swim, and just let me jump right in the back seat. Then she threw her shoes across the car, and still in her wet socks she pulled out of our parking spot and drove away in a big cloud of dust. Her behavior didn’t make much sense, but what dream does?
-Oscar, who is really good at obstaples