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

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!

Travels Abroad

©Mark K. Henderson 2013

I recently wrote an acquaintance who was returning from a lengthy international trip.  It went something like this:

I just recently traveled abroad, too.  I took a trip to Mason, TX.  I ended up exploring by the seat of my pants—on a wing and a prayer, so to speak.  I always say, exploring by the seat of your pantaloons will either kill you or make you stronger.  Or, maybe that was that old sourpuss, Freddy Nietzsche, who said that.  But whether it was he or me, whoever said it was correct.  While I did survive—as evidenced by this nifty little e-mail—I’m feeling strong as bull, as they say in Bulgaria…or someplace where such a phase is popular amongst them fereigners [sic].

One thing I learned in my travels afoot through the dusty country roads of eastern West Texas (or the far west Hill Country of Texas), under “…that hot August sun….” (as my music idol, Lyle Lovett croons; or, was that Robert Earl Keen, Jr.?  I forgot), even though it was only June, like the old bull in both their versions of that tune, I was lookin’ for a mesquite tree to hide under.

But the “mainest” thing I learned whilst running along dusty Texas dirt roads–eyeing a stock tank and wondering if I could head-butt a longhorn bull to get a spot at the trough as my water bottles were collecting dry dust on the inside–was that it sure is a heckuva looooong ways between ranches when you’re looking for water and it’s hotter than Hades and the buzzards are eyeing you smacking their lips…er…beaks, circling overhead.

I learned something else, too:  Just because there is a dot on the map in Mason County, Texas, with an actual name, does not mean it’s actually a town, or at least a town that has things we civilized East Texicans generally associate with towns such as—oh, I don’t know—stores, gas stations, or even running water, as best I could tell.

In an abstract, I was in a tad of a pickle.  Much to my good fortune and thanks to Providence’s divine protection for drunks and idiots—I being the latter—this minor misestimation on my part did not prove fatal or even require rousting Billy-Bob and Stringbean from their afternoon slumbers to go out and try to fire up the county emergency rescue vehicle and drive out to shoo away the buzzards from my partially clad, parched, dusty body to attempt an emergency resuscitation.  Yay, God!

And eventually, I had the great fortune and privilege of sitting on a West Texas front porch and visiting a spell with a fine Texas lady who was sweet enough to fill up my dusty bottles with cold water while I got to listen how her family had settled Mason County back in the 1800s.  Now who said adventures by the seat of your pants can’t prove to be a blessing?  I bet that Nietzsche feller never figured on that one.  Then again, he probably wasn’t a runner.

Well, I didn’t really mean to elongate that little diatribe, but it happens…far too often these days, I’m afraid.  Oh well.  Hopefully, this won’t be buried in a sea spam like “Get bigger ears, online…” and wind up as so many of my musings, on the proverbial cutting room floor of our virtual world.

I’m not really much of a betting man, but if I were, I’d lay a paycheck that you never once during your adventures ever eyed a watering trough while coughing up prairie dust thinking, “Hmmm, that bull don’t look that big…”  And, even if you had such a thought, I’m sure it would have come with a proper verb, but I digress.

To my readers, I remain,

Your fan,
Mark Henderson
Poet~Runner~Chef~Humorist~Unwitting Adventurer
Maidens Rescued; dragons slain.
Governments toppled or supported.
Flexible hours; reasonable rates.
“Action Figure sold separately.”

To read about more running adventures gone hilarious,order your copy of Running And Other Bad Habits today!