By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
The treasures that runners find on the run can break the monotony of a daily routine and add excitement to uneventful runs. City runners often find loose change on the runs through residential neighborhoods and commercial districts, while rural runners find empty beer cans tossed from car windows. However, it is the occasional unusual find that has lasting memories.
My first memorable find was a brand-name bath towel. It may have fallen accidentally out of a moving car or laundry basket, or discarded by an unhappy owner. Either way, it has provided me with years of heavy-duty drying after my runs.
Another memorable find was a large Swiss army knife with a dozen cutting gadgets of every size. It has proven a useful addition to my picnic basket.
It was also on a morning run that I found my running partners, Bobb and Dave. Although they lasted longer than the towel, and were sharper than the knife, they were certainly worth a lot more than loose change.
One early morning, as we ran through the University area, we came upon a pair of students who may have spent the night under the stars. She stared with an oblivious smile as he asked if it was morning yet. Needless to say, I did not bring either of them home.
On another occasion, we were alarmed at first when a mixed-breed dog followed us. She appeared friendly and lonely, in search of company. We named her Lucy. Recognizing our intellectual conversation, Lucy ran with us several miles, and finished her run on my front porch.
Upon close examination, Lucy was deemed to have been abandoned. Newspaper and neighborhood advertisements failed to locate her owners but found her a new family and a new home.
My wife constantly reminds me of one interesting find that I'd rather forget. When our cat, Beek, escaped from home, our morning runs took on the added task of searching for her. A few days after her disappearance, I spotted her several blocks from home. I called her to me and picked her up. I walked her back home, left her in the kitchen and completed my run.
On my return home, my perplexed wife interrogated me. She insisted that the cat was not our missing Beek. When I questioned her conclusion, she showed me the cat's genitals, and she made me return him to his owners.
Now that we live in the country, we no longer find loose change or drunken coeds. However, all the treasures that I have found in nine years of running fade when compared to our latest find.
It was a cool and humid August morning. My wife and I ran briskly to warm up. A short distance into the run, we heard crying from the side of the road. We stopped and listened. The sound led us to a newborn black puppy, abandoned off the road.
The puppy was cold and wet. I wrapped it inside my shirt to give it warmth. As we puzzled over its origin, we heard more crying. Several feet away, my wife picked up another tiny puppy from the bushes.
We returned home with two puppies. We scrambled to dry them, warm them up and feed them. Once stabilized, a visit to the animal clinic followed, where the puppies were examined.
I returned to the scene with Scout, our German Shepherd, to search for other puppies. Fortunately, we found no more.
Both puppies seem to be female, but considering my track record, I reserve final call. They appear to have mixed breed, with a predominance of black Labrador retriever. At two days old, one had a healthy appetite and nursed well from a bottle. The second was weak, and had to be fed through a tube the first day.
As the sun set that evening, I filled my running log with a zero in the mileage field, and many emotions in the comment field. I have known that running saves lives, but never in this fashion. My morning runs will never be the same.
Kamal Jabbour has difficulty adapting to his new sleep schedule, which includes nursing puppies every 4 hours. In between feedings, he checks his email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays.
Post Script: since writing this column, the stronger of the two puppies died. The smaller puppy is doing better. We have named her Java: she is black, keeps us up at night, and runs on computers. KJ.