Where: Fort Sill, Oklahoma
When: Thursday, August 7, 2014
AKA: "Bella-pie," "Bella Button"
Breed: Jack Russell Terrier/ Chihuahua
Age: 3 Years Old
Weight: Moderately Fat
Specialty: Leg Nester
Handler: Irene (Mom)
AKA: "Mufkin," "Chunky Monkey"
Breed: BostonTerrier/ Chihuahua
Age: 2 Years Old
Weight: Very Fat
Specialty: Ferocious Eater
Handler: Becky (Me)
AKA: "Lincoln-berry," "Mr. Logs"
Breed: Toy Poodle/ ???
Age: Almost 1
Specialty: Pack Leader
Handler: Jaime (Sister)
Three winding miles of asphalt road with bridges, hills, and construction work. A few spread out oak trees provide poor cover amid the relentless grass. Facing 100 degree heat and humidity, almost no shade, and limited water, can three energetic puppies complete the course? Or will they fall victim to the harshness of nature?
And They're Off!
Right out the gate, Mia decides to lighten the load, and we lose valuable seconds while I wrestle with the plastic bag. But she's off again. Her feet go patter-patter on the asphalt. We take the lead. Lincoln comes up behind us. We pass him. He passes us. We're right on each other's heals.
Bella begins to snort and huff. She's down and out and resting in Mom's arms.
We break in the shade of an oak and Jaime pours the dogs. Mia doesn't want to drink. The heat is immense. Lincoln starts to tucker out. Will he make it? No. Jaime swoops in to pick him up. And its Mia, fat sturdy Mia, who crosses the bridge independent of human assistance. Look at her, waddling like a champion.
And They're Out!
But the heat takes its toll. Mia's tongue lolls out, and she pants and pants. We're veering off course. No, Mia. She throws in the shade and refuses to budge. Bella and Lincoln, well-rested now, trot on past her. Get up Mia. We're almost to the halfway point.
She gets up and slowly patters down the road.
I believe in you Mia. You're a strong puppy. You don't need to be carried like those wimps!
Or maybe you do. Mia plops down on the hot road and pants so hard spittle froths from her teeth. I pick her up and walk her to the shade. There she drinks copious amounts of water.
We think the dogs are well-rested and can complete the course. We're wrong. Barely an eighth of a mile and Mia keeps stopping for breaks. The judges consult. Ladies and gentlemen, the race has been called off due to extreme weather conditions. We will have to resume this race at a later date.
Dad (yes, he was here, supervising the whole race) and Jaime walk ahead to pick up the car. Mom and I shade the puppies under a concrete shelter. Mia gobbles down the last of the water and flops on her side with all the majesty of a humpback whale breaching the surface of the ocean.
The crucial mistake happened before the race even took place. Originally, the hike was scheduled for the morning. But constant delays and the inability to get it together caused the whole party to leave the house at almost noon, the hottest and bleakest hour of the day. Inadequate water supplies added to the troubles. In the future, such mistakes will have to be corrected if the puppies have any hopes of completing their circuit.