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Tailing After The Rest
Kallie looked excitedly at all the people around her. The race up Montrose Mountain was about to begin! She realized quickly that she was the shortest one there, but that was of little significance to her; she was here to have fun.
Everyone around her was bustling to get their race numbers pinned on, get the appropriate paperwork signed, and to tighten the laces of their running shoes.Some jogged in place, some wiped the noses of their young ones, and others just stood at the starting line, determined looks lining their faces and furrowing their brows. Kallie stood very still, taking it all in. She had never been around this many people before, and none of them noticed her. Suddenly, a man in jeans and a plaid shirt walked up to a small podium holding a megaphone.
“Good afternoon, folks!” he boomed. “It sure is one bee-yoo-tiful day here in Allegheny County Georgia. Are y’all ready to kick up some dust?” The crowd screamed its’ approval. A smile lit up his tanned face as he fueled himself with their energy. “Welcome to the third annual Montrose Mountain Mania! Will all the contestants please take their places at the start?”
The entire crowd moved to the giant banner, under which was the starting tape. Kallie tripped over herself many a time trying to reach the starting point and not be trampled by all the excitedly chattering competitors and their children. Soon, everyone was lined up and ready to go.
The man holding the megaphone smiled at everyone.”We’ll see you at the top, folks! And may the fastest man win.” A short lady behind him held up a checkered flag.
“On your marks…...get set…….GO!” The flag swooped through the air towards the ground, and the crowd lurched forward.
Kallie ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She realized that because she was shorter than everyone else, it was easier for her to weave between them and get ahead. Still, it seemed as though no one noticed her presence. The people around her were huffing and puffing, some stopping on the sidelines to catch their breath, retie their shoes, or chug some water. Kallie kept right on going.
Soon, the finishing banner came into view, where the announcer and his flag-holding assistant were waiting, along with a small crowd of supporters. Kallie was almost at the front of the heaving crowd and knew if she used one final burst of energy, she could make it, despite her aching lungs and burning throat. Mustering up the limited power she had left in her short legs, she bolstered herself, passed in front of the crowd, and crossed the finish line first. The loud, thunderous thumping of feet ceased, and she turned to look behind her. The runners had stopped and now were staring curiously at her.
“Well, now, what do we have here?” said the announcer. He stepped to where Kallie had stopped at the finish line and bent down to her level. He laughed, and his eyes sparkled. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a Yorkshire Terrier winning a race before!” The crowd behind the two laughed. The announcer picked Kallie up and pet her enthusiastically. “Ladies and gents, the winner of the Montrose Mountain Mania!” He held her a little higher so everyone could see her, and all the runners and spectators burst into applause, laughing and smiling as they craned to get a glimpse of the little champion. Kallie relaxed and felt very contented, as well as relieved to to not have to stand on her own any longer. But suddenly, a voice from the back of the crowd paused the applause.
“But it’s a dawg! It don’t have no sign up sheets, and it sure as heck ain’t got no runnin’ numbah! H***, I bet it don’t even have an owner.” He laughed, and a few members of the crowd laughed with him.
The announcer spoke calmly and held Kallie a little tighter. “Well, she has an owner now.” He looked down at her. “What do you say, champ?” Kallie yipped happily in agreement, and crowd began to cheer.
From then on, Kallie stayed with the announcer and his wife, the flag woman. They became a racing team; the man would announce everyone and his wife would swing the flag. And Kallie? She ran right alongside all the pedestrians in every race, became a great mascot, and a sign of hope and perseverance for all dogs to come.