University of Washington Dawg Dash – 2014
Today was the big Dog Race of the Season in Western Washington – The U of W Dawg Dash. This was Mongo’s chance to outright win a dog race. However, Dad had his doubts about the chances of them placing in this run. The Dawg Dash included hundreds of runners and dogs, and many of them were on the competitive circuit. Dad was just out for fun.
It also happened that Dad was dog-sitting Spork for the weekend, while Mom-mom and Kimi went back East. Kimi has assured Dad that Spork was 5k-capable. Still, running the Dawg Dash with two dogs was going to be more of a challenge for Dad than just running with Mongo in the Rover Romp. As part of his strategy, Dad tied both leashes together in the middle, so each dog had about 3 feet to move independently. That seemed like enough room for each of them to maneuver. Time would tell.
Dad’s pack started in the middle of the field. It was a much tighter start than the Rover Romp. At the first quarter-mile, Dad and the dogs were still walking. At a walking pace, everything seemed to be going fairly well. The dogs were able to avoid each other, Dad, and the other racers.
By the first half mile, things on the course started to open up. As Mongo surged forward, Spork pulled back. The leash skewed across Dad’s legs, leading to some very inventive dance steps by Dad as he tripped, hopped, and skipped over and around the leashes. Dad steered the pack from the course. As they neared the sideline, Mongo decided to move to the outside of one of the light posts lining the pathway. He dragged Spork over with him. Apparently, he wanted to gain a little more room to run. It would not have been a bad idea if Dad had not been on the opposite side of the pole. In a flash Dad saw what was happening, and released the leash, but it was too late. The leash wrapped part way around the pole and then it suddenly whipsawed around the pole. The poo bag holder on the end of the leash got snapped around the pole and flew from the leash handle. Dad watched it arc over the path and winced as it landed on the far side. At least it didn’t hit anybody. Finally, Dad worked the pack off to the shoulder. Once there, Dad untied the leashes to give each dog more leeway. That way Spork could run behind Dad while Mongo ran in front. Reconfigured, the Dad pack reentered the race.
As the Dad pack moved back into the flow, the shear density of the crowd intimidated Spork. So with Mongo still pulling for all he was worth, Spork decided the safest place to run was in between Dad’s legs. Dad immediately stepped on Spork’s toes, who yipped, sending Dad skyward in a pirouette of unparalleled beauty and grace. Amazingly, Dad managed to land on his feet and continue moving. He and Spork weaved down the pavement as Spork desperately tried to get between Dad’s feet as Dad tried just as stridently to keep her out from underneath his soles.
Finally Spork relented and resigned herself to just running directly behind Dad. So Dad continued on down the course with Mongo pulling his left shoulder forward, and Spork dragging his right shoulder backward. Still, they were moving fairly well considering that Dad’s shoulders were facing the right sideline, forcing him to turn his head 90 degrees to the left so he could see where they were going. With his shoulders sideways, holding one arm in front, and one arm behind, and his head in profile, Dad looked for all the world like a hieroglyph of a footracing ancient Egyptian cruising through the UW campus.
Even though Dad and the dogs were lined up single file now, slower people kept sliding back into the leashes. As soon as the people felt the leash on their calf, they would inevitably stop, leading to something like a maypole celebration as the two dogs wrapped themselves about the confused race participant. After coming to a complete stop, Dad would quickly untangle the unwitting pack member, and the pack would race off, as the recent involuntary pack member stared at them with a dazed and confused look on their face.
Now that they had a rhythm to follow, the pack stared to make some progress. As they closed in on the finish line, they had enough room around them, and enough experience to move as a unit. They passed the finish line as a furry little triumphirate, but regrettably, not in first place.