Madmen and English Dogs

Mongo likes running around with Dad.  They like to chase soccer balls around the field, but they need a third player to help keep Mongo from hogging the ball, because once he gets his teeth into it, it’s a goner.

So when it’s just the two boys, Dad will take Mongo road running.  Dad likes to take him to Lincoln Park, as evidenced by all the posts centered on that location.  But when that’s not convenient, they will just tool around the neighborhood.

To make sure they stay engaged in their fitness program, they need to have goals.  Dad’s goal is to run in pet-friendly roads races.  Mongo’s goal is to eat more treats (ALWAYS).

This year, Dad found a race that met both their objectives, the Seattle Magazine Brunch Run.  This event combined a 5K at Magnuson Park with an after-event brunch.  The organizers’ motto is “Bloody Marys taste better after 3.1 miles.”  According to the advertising, there would be all kinds of festivities and lots of families at the event.  And where there are families, there are small children.  And where there is small children and food, there are lots of TREATS that fall to the ground.  Racing and food.  What could be better for the team?

That Sunday dawned bright and hot, especially for Seattle.  Neither Dad nor Mongo were particularly prepared for a race in 90°F temperatures.  And apparently, neither were the organizers, since the water stop was not particularly well prepared for a pet friendly run.  To borrow a common phrase, it could be said to be a day fit only for “mad dogs and Englishmen”, or in this case, “a madman and an English dog”.

As usual, Mongo and Dad loitered around the start to give people time to spread out before the dynamic duo started thundering down the course.  When Dad finally brought Mongo around to the start, Mongo leapt through the starting gate and started towing Dad in a valiant effort to get to the lead of the race.  That means that Dad spent the first half of the race, pulling back on the leash to keep Mongo from over-speeding Dad’s poor old tired knees, as usual.  The two of them rocketed along this way, with Dad concentrating all his efforts in keeping his knees operating at just below redline.  This arrangement is very tiring for the both of them, but it does improve Dad’s time in the first half of the race.

However, the team typically pays for this burst of speed in the second half after the water stop.  When he reaches the water-stop, Mongo usually settles in and guzzles a quart or so of water to slake his thirst from having dragged Dad around the course.  But in this instanced they ran into serious difficulties.

As they cruised into the water stop, Dad mentally prepared to spool down long enough to allow Mongo to get a big drink.  But when Dad asked where the dog bowls were, the water station volunteer just gave him a blank look.  Quickly Dad took stock of the situation.  It was terribly hot and dusty on the trail.  Mongo had been pulling Dad in the heat for over 10 minutes.  Clearly Mongo was going to need some water in order to continue this race, and there were no dog bowls around.  Dad continued looking around for dog bowls, but the only things with water in them were little tiny paper cups.  Dad launched into action, and grabbed two cups.

Dad spent precious minutes grabbing tiny Dixie cups for Mongo while the Magnificent Mr. M tried to fit his huge nose into those teeny little cups to get a drink. Mongo would empty each little cup in one or two big “slurps”.  Then Dad would toss the empty cups and grab two more cups from the table.  They managed to drink about a dozen between them, with one (1) for Dad and the rest for Mr. M.  When Mongo looked ready to go, they launched back into the sea of racers.  But now, Mongo was no longer pulling on the leash.  As a wise English Lab, he was content to trot along the madman beside him.

The biggest climb was the last hill.  It was tortuous to put that obstacle so late in the race.  Still, Mongo and Dad pressed on in spite of the heat and the incline.  They passed a cohort of exhausted individuals on the climb.  Dad encouraged them as much as he could to “Keep going, you’re looking good so far!”  As they cleared the hill, and the last stand of woods they came to an open field, and this development may have been even more injurious than the hill.

Here they were at the top of the hill, with a straight view to the finish which was diagonally across the field, but there was a long line of hot and exhausted runners stretched out around the outside of the field plugging their way towards the finish.  The organizers had run the course around the outside of the field instead of straight through it.  Seeing the finish across the field but not being able to head directly there was torture for both of our athletes.  Here they were in sight of cold water, but the route was literally taking them farther away from the end goal, before it would let them get any nearer.

Just the sight of the finish all the way across the field sapped the strength from Dad’s legs and made his mouth dry out.  However, our team soldiered on.  They looped the field and even managed a short sprint across the finish line.

When they crossed the line, Dad grabbed his water bottle and Mongo’s travel bowl and immediately filled it for him.  As Mongo drank, Dad poured the rest of the water all over Mongo’s back to cool him off.  When Mongo was done drinking he flopped on to the cool concrete of a picnic pavilion.  Dad grabbed some more water a poured it on Mongo’s belly.  Mongo wallowed in the water enjoying the cool feel on his skin.  The boys stayed at the shelter for almost 20 minutes before Mongo gave any indication that he was ready to move.  Dad wasn’t all that interested in leaving the water behind either.  One of the other exhausted competitiors stopped to talk to Dad after the race.  “I was just about to give up on that hill when you came by cheering us on.  I figured if that old guy could do it, so could I.  Thanks for helping me through.”  After a moment of internal deliberation, Dad decided that the comment was meant as a compliment, and smiled and shook the man’s hand.

Finally, Mom-mom and Spork joined them and everyone meandered over to the brunch.  The food was inside an old hangar left over from the naval air station.  There were tables all around the hangar floor, and food vendors ringed the outside.  Dad and Mongo had to wind their way to the food line, making sure to stop at every table with toddlers, so Mongo cold clean up under the table.  He did a fantastic job.  Despite the distraction of all the squeals and hoots from the kids as Mongo dove under the table, he left no scrap of food behind.

Dad and Mom-mom managed to score some brunch food and some adult beverages, while guiding Mongo to the most toddler-rich tables, all the while keeping Spork away from the young’uns.  While Spork is very cute to look at, she can easily be overwhelmed in crowds.  Mongo loves crowds.  Crowds mean parties, parties mean food, and crowded parties mean lots of food on the ground!

Many people asked Dad what kind of dogs he had.  Many people don’t know what to make of Mongo.  His huge head is misleading, but that gives Dad a chance to meet new people and explain about English Labs.  As for the Spork’s origin, Dad just goes with Brother Drewbie’s theory that she is a Golden Retriever – Corgi mix.  That kind of makes her a Sporgi.

After finishing brunch the family left the park for the car.  Dad and Mongo left the park absolutely exhausted.  But in the end, all goals for a fun day in the park were met.

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2 responses to “Madmen and English Dogs”

  1. Wedgwood in Seattle History says :

    Well, I am not impressed with the race organizers/lack of proper organization, but I am glad you survived. I imagine everyone slept well afterward but may have dreamed of being lost in a waterless desert with a Lake Washington mirage on the horizon.

    • hdemare says :

      One of our suggestions to the organizers for next year’s race will be dog bowls at the water stop. I may just carry his canvas travel bowl anyway. It doesn’t weigh much.

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