Last Friday night, after 8-year-old, 100-pound chocolate Labrador Retriever Boogie managed to wrestle himself out of his leash, Boogie’s owner, Jerry Butts, had no idea where his dog could have run.
Butts certainly could never have guessed as he scoured Facebook for news of Boogie’s whereabouts that his runaway dog would turn up Saturday morning at the local Thornton gas station at St. Joseph and Franklin in Evansville — the starting line for the town’s half-marathon — and that brawny Boogie would actually run the entire race.
Runner Kim Arney ran the final three miles with the athletic Boogie.
“I lost my race buddy about mile four or five and picked up a new one around mile ten,” Arney remembers.
Participants and spectators pulled out their smartphones and cameras as Boogie jogged by, capturing the burly Lab’s epic run. Photos and videos of Boogie’s mad dash took the Internet by storm almost immediately as people posted them to their social media accounts.
Race officials report that Boogie managed to complete the 13.1-mile race in a respectable 2 hours and 15 minutes, CBS News reports, boogying across the finish line before 1,128 of the race’s registered runners.
But Boogie didn’t have long to celebrate his victory — animal control officers were waiting to pick him up at the finish line.
Meanwhile, as Boogie headed off for the animal control facility, the Evansville Police Department posted a message on their Facebook page, hoping Boogie’s owners would come forward to claim their track star dog.
“Because he did not officially enter the race, we do not have his race times,” the department joked. “However, we are confident he set a new course record for an unassisted dog. Anyone who might recognize this champion runner is asked to help him get back home.”
Jerry Butts was relieved to know Boogie was safe at the animal control facility. But he had no clue that videos of his dog’s half-marathon run had gone viral on the web.
“I could hear him barking soon as I got out the car,” Butts tells the Evansville Courier-Press. “Right then [a woman at Animal Control] said, ‘Your dog is an Internet celebrity, and you’re going to have to [prove] it’s yours.”
On Monday afternoon, Kim Arney, his race buddy, proudly presented the chocolate Lab with his race participant medal outside of the Downtown Evansville YMCA.
Boogie’s half-marathon stunt wasn’t his first time on the lam. According to Butts, Boogie has bolted from home a whopping four times in recent weeks. But it looks like Boogie’s latest escape has inspired the Butts family to finally take the plunge. Boogie has been scheduled for a neuter and a microchipping at his veterinarian.
“He’s going to lose part of his manhood here,” Butts says of Boogie. “That was part of the deal, and now he’s got an identification chip, too.”