Running with Pup: The Call of the Wild

By Mark Henderson

This guy doesn’t know when to stop. “This run thing was fun when we started, but it’s starting to get UN-fun, fast Master.”

When he picked me up a while back, I didn’t have much of a choice: Stay where I’d been dumped off to starve to death or go with this new master. I was too weak to resist anyway. I was starving, eaten up with mange and fleas and fire ants. He picked me up and put me in his truck. I was scared, but really too sick to even be scared.

Other than the stinky oil and nasty stuff he put on me, life was good. I had food and fresh water every day, kittens to chase, flowers to chew up—I could dig Master-traps in the yard and he would waive like a bush and fall in at night—all kinds of fun! And when Master was gone, I spent the day collecting stuff to show Master when he came home. He was always excited to come home to my toys I found all over the place. He would get a light and shine on the new pile. I would wag like crazy. I was so excited to see his face and hear him speak after a day of boring kitten-chasing, and tire-dragging, and foxhole-digging.

“Beer cans? Fiberglass? Good grief pup! You are so gonna…AJAX?!? You ate Ajax? Holy crap! Well, you’re either gonna die or you’ll be wormed. You must be some kind of canine mutant!”

I never understood what he was saying, but I could tell when Master was excited. The shoe was my favorite. I thought he was going to cry tears of happiness when I brought him that shoe he had on the porch to dry after our first run, since I only ate half and brought him the other half. It chewed great! “Good times, man. Good times…”

Pup is doing great on his first long run. He’s a natural. “C’mon, Pup! Good boy!”

My, what a creative brain trust. Pup? I think I outgrew that cute little name about 70 pounds back—like two dinners after you rescued me. “Guess ya couldn’t see that one comin’, hey pops? Yikes.”

“Pup, you are an ultra-dog!”

“Pup.” Pant-pant-pant… Why the heck did he name me ‘Pup’? What’s wrong with ‘White Fang’ or ‘Old Yeller’? So what if I’m black? I’d take ‘Old Yeller’ any day. Heck, I’d take ‘Benji’ for cryin’ out loud! Anything, but ‘Pup’. “Egads man.”

Pup can run, but he’s dumber than a bucket of rocks! “Get off the hot asphalt, Pup! Run in the grass.”

Master is dumber than that old stinky running shoe I ate last week. He keeps running me off the road and breaking my stride! “Share the road, bro’! Share the road!”

“Oh well knucklehead, if you wanna run on the blacktop in July, don’t expect me to carry your butt home.” Dumb dog…

Pant. Pant. “Ok dude, this is insane. We’ve been running for an hour and it is Africa-hot.”

Pup looks hot. Still runnin’ though. That’s my kind of dog. Love that dog! “You runnin’ machine, Pup. Come here. With me, Pup! With me!”

What in the blazes is this run-Nazi doing now? A man-hunt? Huh? Master finally stopped. “Whatcha diggin’ for pops?”

There’s a hose in this pump-house somewhere. There! “C’mon Pup. Daddy’s got a treat!”

“TREAT?” You got my attention now, Pops. “AAARRRGGHHH! What the heck are you doing? Trying to kill me? That…gurgle…cough…water is going to… Water?”

“Good boy, Pup. You likey the water, huh?

“Yeah. Me likey the water. Take me back to the lake and…Oh, this feels sooooo good. Sweeeeet.”

“Who’s your daddy now, Pup? Yeah.” He is such a lab.

“Who’s my daddy now, yeah…”

“Ok boy. That’s it. Let’s roll!”

Huh! “Dude, don’t taze me bro’. I was just starting to dig that hose, man.” Wag-wag-wag-wag. “Please, Master. Please. Let’s just stay here. We don’t ever have to leave…”

There he goes. Does this guy know how to do anything but run? Oh well…

“Good boy, Pup. I knew you’d be ready to rock n’ roll. Three miles to turn around and we’ll be headed for the barn baby!”

I have no idea what he just said, but that ridiculous enthusiasm is killing me. CRIPES, this incessant running is killing me! My poor paws…”

Man, Pup is lookin’ like Wiley E. Coyote after a bad run-in. ”Look! A squirrel!”

“A what? A squirrel. A squirrel?!? “Whoop-de-freaking-doo. Let’s hurry and get this misery over with and get back to the lake…

A.D.D. kickin’ in again. Squirrel. Hah. Pup didn’t even miss a beat on that one. He is totally focused on running. Man, I love this dog…

Ok, Master should be on a P.E.T.A. watchlist or something. He’s making that bastard that dumped me seem like a Nobel candidate for animal rights!

“Lookin’ good, Pup. Lookin’ strong, boy!”

Is this guy for real? This ain’t some aid station pal. You can’t lie me into feeling better about myself.

***1 hour later***

“Somebody just shoot me. Please! How come I had to get adopted by a psycho ultrarunner? Why not some chip-snorting, beer-swilling couch potato? What did I ever do to deserve this?”

“Lake? Let’s go to the lake, Pup.”

I might be delirious, but I think Master just said ‘lake’. “Thank you, God!” Finally!!! Now for the Labrador leap. “WOOHOO!”

Whoa Nellie. The heat must be getting’ to me. I swear I just heard Pup scream ‘WOOHOO’ as he was sprinting for the water…Nah, not that knucklebunny. He may be too dumb to talk, but dang, he sure can run, though!

Oh this feels good…so, soooo goooood! “Come in Master.” That knucklebunny wouldn’t know fun if it bit him on the nose. Maybe I’ll bring him some half-eaten shoes after we get back. Now that’s fun. He seemed to like it last time. He had tears in his eyes. Definitely. That’s what I’ll do when we get home. Chew the shoe, baby. Chew the shoe.”
©Mark Henderson, 2015

By his own admission, Mark (author of “Running, And Other Bad Habits”) has developed co-dependent running habits with his running rescue dog. It just seem a whole lot more fun running around the lake and letting “Pup” do his Labrador leaps than putting in the long miles to get race fit. Run, but ENJOY the journey!~~Marko

Grinches: How My Doggies Stole Christmas!

By Mark Henderson

As I pulled up into my driveway, I could not help but notice the veritable mountain of “stuff” visible through my headlights. Obviously, Pupp and Lucy had spent an entire day working hard to amass a collection of toys that ran the gamut of age, gender, and tastes. I left the truck on and got out. I just had to take a better look.

“Egads.”

Pup

Other than that lone, arcane word that popped out of my lips, I was speechless. It appeared that these knuckleheads had been on some sort of “I bet I can top that” running series of treasure hunts. And judging from the condition of some of their new toys, some appeared as if they had been stolen right out of the arms of crying babes.

“You Grinchy bastards!”

That just made them wag their tails even more feverishly!   They ran excitedly to show me the booty collected from their multiple forays into the neighbors’ yards. Lucy grabbed a red, furry Cookie Monster and shook it like a banshee.

Pupp picked up a baby that burps and cries and started carrying it off. At first, I recoiled when it went “wah, wah…”  fearing the worst, but realized it was, thank God, only a doll. Lucy quickly got jealous, dropped Cookie Monster and jumped on Pupp, trying with all her might, deft athletic skill, boundless energy, and sharp teeth to wrest control of the dolly that burps and farts.

I looked around at the carnage that littered my driveway:  A shoe, a galosh, a snow boot, a cammo Johnboat cushion, a headless G.I. Joe, a baby’s coat, a full-size football, a woman’s high-heel pump, and various and sundry small furry creatures. Some of the stuff looked like it was finding a reuse with these mongrels after a stint in the dump, but the rest looked like they had been plucked from under a Christmas tree.

“Grinches! You guys are so gonna get either you or me or all of us shot.”

Unfazed, they came running up, panting and wagging and jumping, as I dragged my weary body back to the truck. Now, Pupp and Lucy know not to jump up on me when I leave in the morning and when I come back at night. I mean, we have to have some rules of order here at Henderson Acres. But apparently, in all the excitement of “Christmas”, Lucy lost her mind and leapt up—not on my pants mind you—but on my white dress shirt. It was like someone had given her an espresso bean suppository; she was so jacked up, launching like a missile.

After I got the truck shut off and my stuff hauled in, I went out to feed and water the dogs. The porch was covered with fuzz—the liner material for their bed—in big piles all over the porch.

I figured I’d plug in my lone string of Christmas lights, hoping that would light some of the Grinch out of the itty-bitty hearts of these mutants. I went down and around the porch where the light string end hung down near the outlet. I picked up the string end—a good 3 or 4 feet off the ground—to discover that there was no plug anymore. Apparently, “Espresso Butt” bet her brother that she could hop up and get the plug. She did and apparently caught the plug in her teeth and hung on till it snapped.

So, that is how my dogs stole Christmas.

“You Grinchy bastards.”

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“You’re a monster Mr. Grinch. Your heart’s an empty hole…The three words that best describe you, and I quote:  Stink. Stank. Stunk.”

Go Green!  If you don’t buy a copy of Running, And Other Bad Habits today, we’ll have to resort to burning one copy per day just to keep the house warm.  Save the planet!

Cowboy Writer

By Mark Henderson

Some of you might think that writing for a living is, well…actually, I haven’t a clue what you think about being a writer. I am an author, and I do like to write. Interestingly enough, I also like to eat. So does my son, Matt. So does my feral kitty, Kitty.

Occasionally, writing buys the vittles; more often though, I resort to my many cool skills that don’t have a thing to do with writing, other than providing a rich tapestry upon which to draw material. One such cool skill is ranch-handin’.

Texas Longhorn

A couple weeks back, I had just finished a two-month technical writing project worth a good chunk of change, but it didn’t pay out until a month AFTER final deliverable. Therefore, I was forced once again to use my road change collection in order for Matt, Kitty, and I to eat. Zeroed out on food, money, and purt’near fuel, the phone rang, and—thank you God!–I went back to ranch-handin’…again.

That particular day, it was running about 40 degrees F and drizzle-raining—typical East Texas winter. Well, I was out there all day in the slop and cold, repairing fence and chasin’ ornery bovines, and thanking God every minute!

On the upside, even though all alone, I was cultivating my Jack Palance persona of a grizzled cowboy breathin’ steam in my sheep wool-lined Levis jacket and cowboy hat with a little mud, blood, and East Texas “snow” dripping off the brim, gloves torn up by barbed wire and brush, and beard dribbled with a little of all of the above. However, this persona was proven a facade when–as I was hunkered down straining to pull twine out from under a round bale at the end of a long, cold, solitary day–I felt a warm nose and hot breath down the back of my neck.

Now, without belaboring my very surprised thoughts of what the source of this warmth might have been focused on, I imagined a T-Rex, or a Bigfoot, or a rogue Texas bear, or some other insidious miscreant meaning me no little harm. So, I reacted like any grizzled Texas cowboy would: By squealing like a schoolgirl, shooting up that bale of hay until I ran out of footing, launching myself a good eight or nine feet into the air, boots wailing as if I was trying out for a part in “E.T.” (the movie) without a bicycle. From this vantage point of relative, albeit temporary, safety, I was able to turn my head to glimpse the commotion (which sounded like a thundering herd) I’d just narrowly escaped. Much to my surprise, I saw my hat suspended in the air spinning above the boot-prints from whence I’d launched in bit of a hurry, two ponies hell-bent for another county, and about 30 or so Longhorns stampeding in every direction.

Well, whatever it was that snuck up on me and nuzzled me in the neck was gone, thank God, and then I plop-landed in some soft poop-mud avoiding any further damage to me, personally.

I retrieved my hat that had taken a bit of a beating in all the commotion and mayhem and stampeding around. I knocked off the hay-mud-poop chunkage, bent out the hoof-print, and put it back on. However, it just didn’t feel the same. I don’t ever remember Jack Palance or John Wayne or Clint Eastwood squealing like a schoolgirl. But then again, I don’t ever remember a Bigfoot sneaking up and blowing a warm kiss down the back of one of their necks on a cold, lonely day, either. I’m just glad nobody had a video camera.
©Mark Henderson, 2013

To read more hilarious musings (while you’re resting by the fireplace) of writer-runner Mark Henderson, check out his one-of-a-kind running humor book, Running, And Other Bad Habits!  It won’t make you run any faster, smarter, or prettier, but it will make you laugh all the way to the nearest Port-O-Let!