December 30, 2019 | Posted in WooFPAK Heroes

Running through the part of the Great Allegheny Trail that cuts through Pittsburgh is a totally different experience from anywhere else that they’ve been on this trip so far. WooFDriver takes a lot of care in making sure that the dog’s paws are slicked up well and good before they move even an inch; the thick oil based cream that he puts on their paws will help protect the sensitive pads from tearing on concrete, asphalt, or stone; although WooFDriver has plans on avoiding all of those things as much as possible.

When the trail was first created, the city of Pittsburgh looked vastly different than it does now. Rather than the city scape that has become something of an icon to those visiting the state, old steel mills used to line the trail. Many of these have been replaced with condo’s and the like, though there are a few remaining evidence’s of the less than glorious past.

Chase is excited in ways that he can’t explain. He loves going for runs, no matter where they are. But there’s something really incredible about a run that’s so different. The power lines hang over head instead of tree branches; cars can be heard rushing in the distance, easy to be picked up by the dog’s sharp ears.

It smells different, too. There’s gasoline in the air, and people, and fried foods. Smoke, but not from wood fires. All kinds of things that are vastly different from the dog’s home, or their normal running routes. In due time, they come upon a Hot Metal Bridge, and WooFDriver calls the team of sled dogs to a stop.

He pulls the camera off of his vest, where it’s been fixed for the run, holding it at arm’s length and pointing it at himself. “Okay. So I originally wanted this to be a straight run through, but I can’t pass here and not film something. We’re at one of the last remaining Hot Metal Bridge’s. It used to be how trains would transport molten iron from the furnaces out to the steel mills. It runs across the river. See? Over there – ” He angles the camera away from himself. ” – that’s the Carrie Furnace. And we’re at the last remaining piece of the Homestead Steel Works.”

“This place is super cool,” says Chase. With their leads bound to the WooFMobile, they can’t go off and explore on their own. Chase prances in place, shifting from one paw to the next, excited and amped up on the adrenaline that comes from every run. “I’ve never seen anything like it before! Man, I bet it would be cool to go running in that river!”

“I think it would just be really cold,” says Jag, but his tail wags when he says it. “And look at those waves! People probably have a hard time with it.”
Chase snorts. “Yeah, but we aren’t people! We’re dogs! And I bet it would be really, really fun!”

Princess says, “I don’t think we’re supposed to be having fun right now. It sounds like WooFDriver is talking about something super serious.”

She’s right, of course. Princess usually is.

WooFDriver has a serious way about him, shoulders stiff and brows furrowed as the camera points back at himself. “So, the Homestead Strike. That’s probably not something a lot of people know about. I don’t think we cover it in schools? Least, we didn’t when I was growing up. And – I don’t know. We’re passing here, so I wanted to say a little about it.”

“It was back in the early 1890s,” continues WooFDriver. “And there was a battle between strikers and private security agents. It was a super big part of the labor history for the states. The Pennsylvania militia was called in, and the striking members of the steel mill resolved to meet them with open arms.


Katelynn E Koontz – Author

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