Dingleberry

I ran into the past this morning. I took Mom to run on a trail that we used to run a few times a week before I was transferred to a posting in My Hometown. My memories had refreshed in the dog-decade since this was my kingdom, and now the flatness and shortage of things for Mom to trip on felt exotic. Even the water was flatter here.
“Our life was pretty dull back when we lived here, wasn’t it?” Mom said. “How did I run here like three times a week without going bonkers?”
“Because you had me to keep you company!” I told her.

I don’t have any pictures from today’s run, so I’ll just share some other pictures that I don’t think you’ve seen instead.

In my memory this trail was filled with all the bunnies, stripey stink-cats, foxes, and even a groundhog that we’d chased here over the years; but now that Mom mentioned it, I hadn’t chased anyone but Mom for most of those miles. Back then I knew the route so well that every rock and weed tuffet was a landmark, and it was exhausting to have to pass so many of them before I got to go home and eat breakfast.

Now that my memory had dimmed, I saw only a path instead of every single gravel pebble, and I was surprised how close together the landmarks I remembered really were. I used to spend a distressingly tedious five miles saving energy by going slow enough that Mom would tow me with the leash, but now the miles slipped effortlessly under my paws.

With two miles left to run, we had a choice between the wide, flat path-most-traveled and the slithering singletrack that travels next to it. A flock of geese was mooning us from the marsh, and a flock of people with eye pipes had clotted across the trail to watch the geese waggling their butts in the air. Mom has no patience for that kind of nonsense, so instead of scattering them like bowling pins, we took the track less traveled.

We used to take this side trail to add a micro-dose of excitement to our run, since it made exactly the same shape as the main trail, and sat just a few feet down and to the side of the main trail. But now that boring was interesting, the mumps on this little trail were just getting in the way of our expansive leg-stretching run. I felt Mom plotting to join the main trail again at the first chance we got.

I looked up to see if there would be anyone fun to startle when we burst into their path, and saw a lady running next to us like a reflection. She didn’t look exactly like Mom, but if this lady had jumped out at you in a dark alley and said “BOO!”, you might pick Mom out of a lineup when you reported it to the police. The only big difference was that Mom was dressed fashionably in Richard Simmons shorts and tall socks, and the impostor lady was wearing long tights like someone who didn’t know how nice knees look when they’re lost in the fat bunched around the top of the sock.
“Mom! Hurry, or else we’re going to be running next to her and you’ll have to keep your mask on for good!” I said.
“Don’t worry,” Mom said. “We’re on the outside of the curve for the next quarter mile. That means that she’s got a shorter distance to run and she’ll be ahead of us at the next exit.”

So Mom laid off the gas just a bit, and I slowed down enough to make the leash floppy enough to trip her if I timed things right. When the trail straightened out, I could tell that Mom was wrong (as usual). The Momposter would be blocking the onramp right when we got to it, and thus herding us onto the side trail.
Mom corrected her hypothesis. “Okay, well maybe we’re running just a little bit faster than she is. We have the inside path on this next turn, so if we run just a little faster, then we’ll be in front of her at the next exit.” So we squeezed our legs just a little tighter to beat the Momposter to the next exit.

When the trail straightened out this time, the Momposter was still on pace to block us in. “What the hell?! Is she pacing off of us?!” Mom said. “Who does that?!”
“Mom! Look out!” I said. There were two people in stupid hats standing like statues on the trail ahead of us, looking at ducks rather than the handsome bowling ball and jiggling knees that were bearing down on them. “We’re trapped!” I yelped.
“This dingleberry is going down!” Mom growled, speeding up like we were racing a light at a crosswalk. Then she veered up the little slope of wild dirt that protected us from the Momposter’s boogeybreath. I followed close behind her as we cut onto the trail just a leash-length in front of the Momposter. Then we kept sprinting side-by-side with the leash spread out between us like finishing tape as I waggled my tail and Mom waggled her Richard Simmons shorts in the lady’s face just to show just whose trail this really was. Once Mom had counted down from 50, she said it was okay to slowly loosen our jaws on the pace.

Suddenly the Momposter burst around us, the tail of her head fur wagging like a mocking goose butt. At the moment when Mom’s thoughts were about to burst out of her mouth, the Momposter’s path tightened its lasso and she used her boogeybreath and stomping pant legs to herd Mom and me together. The Momposter completed her U-turn at the next offramp and fled back up the side trail in the direction we’d come from.

We sure showed her!

Oscar the Pooch

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