We did it! Serena and I finished just where we wanted to in the Willamette Humane Society's 1.5K (.9 mile) WillaMutt Strut Fun Walk last Saturday in Salem's Riverfront Park.
Serena is twelve and a half years old. That's something like 87 in dog years. So Serena has slowed down. A lot. My wife took our younger dog, Zu Zu, on the 5K walk. I was pretty sure Serena couldn't handle three-plus miles in August heat.
Hence, my plan was to let Serena do her usual walking thing -- which should guarantee that we'd end up in a distinctive position. At the end.
As the 1.5K walkers assembled at the starting line, there was some trash talking between the dogs. At least I assume this is what's going on here. Yo, big old dog! Us cute little fuzzy critters are going to kick your butt. And smell it, too, if we get the chance.
Indeed, it didn't take long for a significant gap to appear between us and the main mass of walkers (can I call it the peloton?).
Because there was one competitor I was most afraid of: an elderly woman in a wheetchair holding her dog on her lap, who was being pushed by a female companion. For most of the 1.5K they were comfortably ahead of us.
But on a section where the path doubled back on itself I looked across a stretch of grass and saw something that worried me. The elderly woman had gotten out of the wheelchair and was shuffling along behind it by holding onto the handles.
Damn! I was worried that as slow as we were, she might be even slower.
Fortunately, soon we got to a Humane Society volunteer who was overseeing the walk. I told her that my dog and I were hoping to get last place, so were concerned about a woman in a wheelchair who could upset our plan.
"She's quite a ways ahead of you," the volunteer said. "No worries." Whew. Clear sailing walking ahead.
l spent the rest of the walk, which took us about forty minutes to go the .9 miles, a snail-like pace, thinking up witticisms I could yell at the crowd that I assumed awaited us at the finish line. Wouldn't there be a bunch of WillaMutt Strut participants and volunteers cheering on the stragglers?
Figured that my iPhone would have some sort of date/time attached to the photo in case someone else tried to claim our last place prize. No worries about that either; not only did no one try to claim our last place prize, there was no last place prize.
Except in my own mind.
And Serena's too, I bet, because to me she looks awfully proud crossing that finish line. We trained hard for the 1.5K. Spent months walking as slowly as possible on the roads and trails in our rural south Salem neighborhood.
All that not-so-hard work paid off. Last place in the WillaMutt Strut! Next year, we hope to defend our anti-championship. With Serena being thirteen and a half years old then, our chances are excellent.