Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Morning Stories with Mookie - Episode 53


The Time Mookie Could Not Get Rid Of A Stray Dog On An 18 Mile Run

A few years ago when I was training for the Chicago Marathon, I would get up early on Sundays and do my weekly “long run.”  This distance varied from week to week and depended where I was in the training schedule.  For this one week in particular I had to do an 18 miler, so we are talking some serious distance.  I woke up at 4AM, and went through all of my pre-run details: use bathroom, get dressed, make sure I had enough Gatorade to stash in places, and loosen up. 

When I set out just before 5AM, I had a bottle of Gatorade with me, and had two stashed in the tree out in front of my house.  That way I could just run by and pick one up if need be.  With my running GPS on and my MP3 player cranked up, I headed out.

For this run I decided to stay within the city limits for the most part, and not venture off into the country like I had on other runs.  Even though it wasn’t light out yet, it was still warm and humid and I wanted to make sure I was near a “refill” station when I needed more beverage.  The town I live in is not terribly big, so when you do 18 miles, it is a lot of back and forth across town, laps around the town, and winding paths through town (to keep it interesting).  At about the 10 mile mark, I made it past my house and picked up another bottle of Gatorade.  I hoped this would carry me the rest of the way, so I turned and headed west to the other side of town.

About another mile down the road, I crossed over into the “less nice” part of town.  It isn’t bad, but the homes aren’t terribly nice.  It was then I saw an animal dart out between some houses in my direction.  I looked up and saw this big Labrador dog running at me.  This is one of my few fears when I’m out running.  Thankfully I have not had to physically deal with one (yet), but I am always on guard.  I yell “GET BACK!!” at the dog and he surprisingly stopped.  With the crisis averted, I continued on up the street until I noticed something behind me.  I look over my shoulder and there is that damn dog.

He is running RIGHT behind me at my heels, and almost tripping me every other step.  I start yelling at this dog, but he pays me no mind.  I start turning corners hoping he’ll realize he ran away from home and he’ll go back.  No.  He’s still there.  In fact, he’s running alongside me now and crowding me into the curb.  I tried a few times to make a “sweeping” motion at him with my foot trying to get him to back off, but he did not take the hint.  This f’n dog is pissing me off.  I turn another corner and run back down the street where I found him, hoping that maybe he’ll see his home and go back there or his owner will see him and call him.  Nope.  Its now been 3 miles and this dumb dog is showing no signs of being tired or backing off.  At one point I sped up and started running faster and then when he got up next to me I stopped quick and turned the corner as he ran by.  Did this trick him? NO!  He thinks I want to play now. GODDAMMMIT!!!  He is all up in my legs and tripping me as I try to keep running.  I didn’t want to stop because this was a big run, and if I ran this whole thing I knew it would be a huge step mentally and physically towards the marathon.  However this dog was doing his best to try and get me to stop. 

One thing I will say is that the pooch was resourceful.  I figured he’d have to be getting thirsty here soon, and maybe he’d quit and find a puddle or something.  We passed a parking lot that had a pretty decent puddle in it, and my hunch proved right.  The dog ran over and started lapping water like a mad man.  But then he looked up and saw me half a block away. “Oh no!”  Here he came on the dead run. SOB.  I have two miles left to go, and I am stuck with this dog.

Random traffic has now started in the early morning hours, and everyone is looking at me as this un-leashed dog runs behind/next to/ around me.  Eventually, a police car rolls up next to me and I recognize the officer as my old neighbor.  He rolls down the window and says:  “Matt!  Is that your dog?”  “NO!” I reply back.  I tell him how he’s been following me for miles and I can’t get rid of him.  He says he thinks he knows who the dog belongs to, and radios the dispatch to call them.  So while we wait,  the cop is rolling just ahead of me with his blinking hazards on to show he isn’t moving very fast, while I run behind him with this damn dog.  That’s right….I had a police escort.

After a few minutes, the cop slows up and tells me that they can’t get a hold of anyone at the house.  He said that maybe he’ll turn around when I get home.  Great.  So the officer drives off and I’m left to finish up my last mile while Fido the super dog is crowding me and tripping me.

Its uphill all the way home, and the dog is showing some fatigue, but he’s right there.  I turn onto my street and head for home feeling very proud of myself for my 18-mile accomplishment.  I stop at the bottom of my driveway, grab my last bottle of Gatorade and down it.  The dumb dog is running around the front yard smelling and sniffing all over the place.  I walk up the driveway to the gate that opens to my backdoor and back yard, and I quickly open and shut the gate while the dog runs up and stares at me.  He’s looking at me like “Hey.  What are you doing?  I tell him “GO HOME!” and I turn and go into the house.  I looked out the window once I got inside, and he stood there for a few seconds before finally turning and running off to God knows where.

In hindsight, I felt bad because he was obviously a nice dog who just needed some exercise.  I saw him a few weeks later tied up in someone's yard and I felt bad for him.  No wonder he ran as far as he did with me.

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