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