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For Candy and Digit and Sherman and Lawrence

Carol M. Highsmith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This is Mike Strong, in Hays, for HPPR. The book is “Running With Sherman” by Christopher McDougall.

Digit, another of our rescues, was a three-legged dog. Medium height, two front legs and one back leg. Wayside Waifs thought she had been run over and tried to put her broken back leg together but eventually had to amputate it. Still, for the most part, you would think she barely noticed, although going upstairs was tougher with only one rear leg to push her upward.

Digit led our activities. She led! Never once did she ever retrieve for me. Nope. Not once. On the other hand, I became her thrower. She would pick up her favorite throw toy in her mouth and then deposit on my foot. If I didn’t seem to notice she would pick it up and drop it harder on my foot. She might repeat this until I gave in and threw it for her. I was Digit’s thrower.

Sometimes she would look at me like, “Hey, there. You. Biped. Wake up!”

She probably thought we bipedals were dumb, with so much of our brains occupied trying to stay upright on two legs instead of down low and stable. Not much time to read the philosophers, like Dog-istotal, or Dog-taire or historians like Dog-rodatus. Poor things, those humans, she must have thought, not much brain left over for thinking.

Think about it for a minute. How many dog words do you know? How many human words does your dog know? Logic is logic!

I kind of got the same impression of Sherman, the donkey, in “Running With Sherman.” MacDougall relates how he needed to set things up so that Sherman thought it was his idea to go running with the bipedal humans. And Sherman was determined. And Smart.

If you don’t love Sherman, you haven’t read the book, yet.

Or, you are not Lawrence. Lawrence is a rambunctious billy goat who befriends Sherman early on. Known for his bounding, bouncing ways, alarming but friendly, MacDougall writes that when a still very sick Sherman is brought in, Lawrence did something he had never seen Lawrence do before, “he took his time.” Then Lawrence examined Sherman closely.

MacDougall writes, “… he then did something that, in an instant, made up for every flowerbed he had ever ruined, every driver he had ever terrified, every torn fence I’ve had to replace. Lawrence, the billy goat, lay down beside the sick donkey, curled his legs beneath him, and settled in for the night.”

MacDougall’s friend Tanya, who helps him understand donkeys, tells him, “He’s been abused and abandoned, and that can make an animal sick with despair. You need to give this animal a purpose. You need to find him a job.”

Now we get to Leadville Colorado – and Boom Day.

10 years before, MacDougall had gone to Leadville, Colorado to learn about a 100-mile footrace, the Leadville 100, created as an attraction after the mines closed. That visit led to his previous book, “Born to Run.”

“Boom Day” is held in August and features donkeys running the course as their humans run behind, holding on, sometimes barely, to the donkeys’ halter ropes.

Macdougall met with Ken Chlouber, who had become enamored of burro racing, derived from the old mining days when a miner would put his kit on a burro and head for town. Chlouber advised MacDougall that burros had their own ideas.

Chlouber told him, “If you and that burro aren’t of the same opinion about where you’re going and how fast, it can drag you up the side of a cliff or through a boulder field,” Ken warned me. “And there ain’t nothing you can do but hold on and holler.”

It took a bit, but Sherman was ready to move. And movement proved good medicine for the abused and sick donkey. MacDougall writes that movement is “that magical ON switch that speeds healing hormones to everything you need to get stronger: your bones, brain, organs, ligaments, immune system, even the digestive bacteria in your belly, all get a molecular upgrade from exercise.”

Worked for me too, years ago, but that’s another story about third-degree burns back in 1977 and moving because I had to and because it was a weekend and the weekend ER staff didn’t hold you. They patched you up and sent you out. The next week the clinic was aghast that I hadn’t been kept, but it happened to have been the best thing for my recovery. Movement.

This is Mike Strong, in Hays, for HPPR Radio Readers Book Club.


The 2023 Leadville Boom Days Pack Burro Race is BACK on historic Harrison Avenue this year! Join us to cheer on the teams as they take off on Harrison Avenue and work their way up Leadville’s mining district on the East side. HAULING ASS FOR OVER 70 YEARS! Course Distances: Long Course: 21 miles Short Course: 15 miles

http://www.leadvilleboomdays.org/ - main site
http://www.leadvilleboomdays.org/welcome-2/ - burro-race link

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