Since I don’t have my driver’s license yet, I never know where we’re going to run when Mom and I get in the car. So imagine my excitement when Mom pulled off the freeway at the exit for Disneyland for Doggos. I’ve been seeing a lot of my friends running at Disney this week, so you all will get what it’s like to drive up to the Happiest Place on Earth™ and feel the excitement bubble out of you in a squee. Just like at the human Disney, there are animal celebrities to meet like sheep, goats, bunnies and chickens. There are toys and bones and rawhides all over the place, as if they were left there by magic, and you can just pick up and chew on any of them any time you want. You’re allowed to climb on the furniture. And best of all, everyone who’s there loves dogs, especially the princess of the whole kingdom: the Dean of my puppy academy. So imagine my confusion when Mom drove right past Deanland and parked in some lame car kennel.
“Is she here?” I squealed, knocking Mom out of the way so that I could look out all of the windows for my Friend. “Are we going to meet The Dean?”
“No, we’ll see her a little later. First we’re going to run,” Mom said. She clicked on the leash and we headed for the hills.
I’m good at pacing and don’t pull on the leash, but if there’s something exciting ahead of me, I drag Mom at top speed until my collar pulls so tight that I’m breathing like an asthmatic on his first run of the year. “Is she up here? Is she on top of the hill?” I snored, perking my ears up and looking this way and that. But instead of toys and rawhides, all I could see lying around on the ground were giant splashes of cow poop.
“The Dean doesn’t run, Oscar,” Mom explained.
“Did you even invite her? We’re like right next to her house. I’m sure she’d love to come.”
“I really don’t think that would be fun for her. A lot of people find running hard, or boring, or they are just more interested in other things.”
“God, Mom. I can’t believe how rude you are. How’s she going find out that she loves running if you won’t teach her how? You could throw a frisbee down the trail in front of us, and then she’d chase it and forget that she was even running.”
“I don’t think she would find that motivating. YOU don’t even fetch frisbees.”
“Right! That’s the point. Whenever you throw a frisbee, I chase it and then wait for you to catch up so that you’ll pick it up and throw it again. That makes running together fun.”
“It’s okay for people to be interested in and motivated by different things than you, Oscar,” Mom lied. “It doesn’t take anything away from your enjoyment, and differences are what makes having friends so great, because they can share their experiences about things that you would never do yourself.” Mom is so full of cow poop sometimes.
After a couple of miles we came to a great big gate across the trail. “Oh no! Trail’s over. Time to go to Deanland!” I said.
“Look, there’s a latch so that we can open it,” Mom said. “It’s not supposed to keep us out. It’s for the cows.”
“What c…” I sarted, but then I stopped still. It took a second for what I was seeing on the trail in front of me to come together. Big furry box. Skinny little legs. Ears and tails. And eyeballs staring at me. “HOLY COOOOOOOOOWWWWW!” I barked.
There was a clump of cows standing right in the middle of the trail staring right at me! “HEY, TURD BRAINS!” I shouted. “YOU’RE BLOCKING THE TRAIL! MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!”
I wanted to barrel down the lane and scatter them like bowling pins, but Mom held me back. Instead, she tiptoed slowly toward the bundle of gawking cows. “I’M PART CATTLE DOG, WHICH MEANS THAT I WAS BORN TO CHASE YOU, YOU DUMB… DUMB… YOU DUMB COW!” I barked.
Instead of scattering, the cows gave me one last long look and a sigh. Then, as if to say, “I was going this way anyway,” they turned one by one and stepped off the trail. Then, they stared at me like a celebrity who they don’t recognize as I ran by.
After turning 6 miles into almost 8 (only sorta by accident), Mom and I finally got in the car and drove the short way to Deanland. Imagine my surprise when I saw a stranger-puppy escorting… ONE OF MY FORMER COLLIES FROM MY CITY LIFE! “Let me show you around!” I squealed when I recognized my Friend. And then to the puppy I said, “Hey, what’s that on your collar?”
“I’m Archer and that’s my Fitbit!” the puppy said. Then his lady pulled out her witch and showed Mom about all of the steps that Archer had done in the past few days.
“Mom and I only count INTENTIONAL miles,” I told Archer coolly.
“Why not all your steps?” he asked. “All play is fun.”
“Well… um… because… um… because I’m not a nerd and I don’t have a Fitbit,” I told him.
“Well that’s a shame. My lady is very proud because I got 300 minutes of activity yesterday. I like making her happy, and when I move a lot I get lots of snacks.”
I love snacks, and the jealousy made me want to make sure that this oblivious puppy knew I was a serious runner. “Big whoop. If your lady didn’t run with you, then what’s the point? My partner and I only turn on the mile-counter when we’re running together.”
“But my lady can’t run…” the confused puppy said. “And she doesn’t eat dog treats.”
Archer was backing up everything that Mom had said about Friends having different rules, and it doesn’t feel nice to have some dumb puppy confirm something that you didn’t think of first. I thought maybe if I treated him like he was the dimwit for not thinking of my way, then maybe he would agree with me instead. “Has it occurred to you to throw a frisbee?” I asked.
“No, when she throws something, I bring it back to her so she doesn’t have to bend down and hurt her knees.” Darn! That was a very good boy answer. “Don’t you get bored just running in a straight line all the time with nothing to chase?” he asked.
“No! Because I’m hanging out with Mom and it’s my job to patrol the trail and make sure that the cows move along when they’re done pooping on it,” I said snobbily. “It’s a very important job.”
“And then do you make the cows gather in a big clump so that they don’t get lost?” silly Archer asked.
“Who cares where the cows go?” I asked, confused. “Whatever happens off the trail doesn’t matter.”
“What’s the point of accumulating all those steps if you don’t have something to count at the end like a herd of cows?”
I wanted to discuss it further so that I could convince the puppy that his Fitbit was lame, but just then The Dean let the goats into the pen. “OH MY GOD, GOATS!” Archer and I squealed, as we ran to the pen to bark at them.
“HEY! HEY GOATS! HEY! I CAN TAKE ALL THREE OF YOU WITH ONE PAW TIED BEHIND MY BACK!” I yelled at the top of my voice as Archer tried to poke his dumb head under the fence.
“Oscar needs to go back in the car,” The Dean said. “He doesn’t want to herd them, he just wants to chase them.”
“IT’S A SHAME YOU DON’T HAVE FITBITS BECAUSE I’M GONNA CHASE YOU TILL YOU HAVE A ZILLION STEPS!” I shouted over my shoulder as Mom led me back to the car. I was so busy yelling at the goats that I didn’t even notice that Archer had been quiet that whole time, running back and forth outside the pen and following the goats. He was too thick to know that the fun hadn’t even started yet.
While I was in the penalty box, I had a lot of time to think. I’m good at everything I’ve ever tried, and I scattered those cows like a boss. But it seemed like everyone outside the car had decided to play a different game than the one that I was good at. At first I wanted to change their minds and teach them the rules to my even-more-fun-game… but how could I do that from inside the car? They weren’t even listening to what I was barking anymore, so I just sat and watched quietly. After watching them for awhile and counting all the ways that it would be better if they did it my way, I noticed that everyone seemed to be having fun even though they were doing it wrong. Their lame game wouldn’t be fun for ME, but it sure is hard to convince someone that they’re wrong about something when they’re having a good time anyway. If I hadn’t been wearing the leash, there’s NOTHING that Mom could have said to drag me away from the thrill of barking at the goats. Just like it hadn’t made my cow-chasing run any less fun for me when those bums had opted out, I guess it was okay for me to chill in the car and let them have their fun gathering goats.
Oscar the Unapologetic Cattle Dog