How lovely to come across a Lynn Lempel grid on a Monday morning. There are a few constructors you know will reliably make a smooth, enjoyable, and well constructed early week puzzle. Ms. Lemple is routinely called upon to construct a puzzle for the ACPT (and did this year as well).
Today's theme is animal-based simile verb phrases, such as DRINKLIKEAFISH, or WORKLIKEADOG. I suppose that RUNLIKEADEEER is the least familiar to me. I feel like running like a cheetah is more evocative, but this one works well. In my experience, dogs rarely work hard. But then I don't have working dogs. I have lazy ones.
There are number of other animal references, such as MARES, GOOSEEGGS, SLITHERS, EMU, and the old favorite EEL. Not to mention old Mr. AESOP, who is referenced with one of his many fables involving animals. And Beauty's BEAST. A little extra theme material? I like to think so.
As is typical of a Monday, there is not a ton of super clever cluing. But I'd like to highlight a few that show that it's not so straightforward cluing even on a Monday.
25A: Middle square on a bingo card (FREE) - a nice way to spice up a common word with an interesting clue.
39A: "Yay! Tomorrow's Saturday!" (TGIF) - fun quote clue, instead of referencing some chain restaurant.
42A: Elements that make up the atmosphere (GASES)
13D: "___-Ra: Princess of Power" (1980s animated series) (SHE). A lot of work, but worth it! Although I'd prefer if they'd clued it to the more recent, much better animated series, "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" (aired 2018-2020).