Having been a runner for many years, I’m occasionally flagged down by passing drivers who want to know one of two things: (1) how to get somewhere or (2) have I seen their missing dog.
Fortunately I’m pretty good with directions, particularly when it comes to the distance from one turn to the next. I’m usually able to provide directions to the nearest tenth of a mile, knowledge gained by running daily on all of the roads within 10 miles of my house.
Unfortunately, every time I’ve been asked about a missing dog the answer has always been the same: no. I imagine it seems perfectly logical for a dog owner to assume that surely – somewhere, somehow – the runner they see on these roads every day would have crossed paths with their missing canine at some point. For reasons I can’t explain, I have never been able to be Sherlock Holmes for a missing bloodhound.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried. When I see a posting for a missing dog I make it my mission to find it. I will run the same route for days hoping Sadie will respond to me calling her name, that I’ll see Tahoe rummaging in a garbage can or spot Whiskers running around in the school playground.
Alas, that’s never been the case.
I’ve dreamt of finding a missing pooch and gloriously returning it to its owner. With Sadie or Tahoe or Whiskers at the end of a leash I made from an old leather belt, I’d take that glorious walk up the driveway anticipating what accolades would soon be coming my way. “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly accept any reward money. It was my pleasure being able to return this dog to its rightful owner. I’m a pet owner myself, so I understand how you’ve been feeling. It was my pleasure finding your dog.”
All of that would be true, of course. I could never accept money for something that any decent human being would do. It honestly would be my pleasure finding and returning a missing dog. I do know how they felt, because I’ve experienced it personally in the past. And it truly would be my pleasure finding your dog.
Now, if I could only find a missing dog, I could live out my dream.
There was a time – about 20 years ago I was running through a neighborhood and saw a sign for a missing Siamese cat. I recognized the owners as their son played in the same basketball league as one of my sons. To my surprise I saw a Siamese cat and took off in hot pursuit, running through the woods and one sticker bush after another until I finally cornered it in – yes – another sticker bush.
I reached in, grabbed the cat and placed it firmly in my arms as I jogged the mile or so back to the aforementioned address. The entire time the panic-stricken cat was shredding my arms with its claws, desperately trying to escape. I triumphantly rang the doorbell and when the door opened proudly announced, “I found your cat.”
The wife countered with this: “That’s not my cat.”
The only time I was ever able to assist someone searching was about a year after I moved to Senoia. I was running along Eastside School Road about 4:30 in the morning when a Coweta County deputy pulled up beside me and asked if I’d seen anyone while I was running. Apparently someone in the area called the sheriff’s office and filed a report about someone whom they thought of as suspicious. I told the officer I’d been running for more than an hour and hadn’t seen anyone. He thanked me for my help and drove away.
As he drove off it dawned on me that I had seen the person he was looking for.
It was me.
Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia with his wife Cindy, three cats and never enough visits from his grandson Krischan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org