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Community runs for canines

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Steve Craft of Freeville starts the 10K Cornell University canine benefit run Saturday during McLean’s Happenin’ in the Hamlet. The Cornell program trains rescued dogs to serve on the university’s canine unit.

Kruiser, the 1 1/2-year-old German shepherd, paced and cried while his owner stood still by his side in anticipation of a 3-mile run.

“He’s ready to run,” said Jolene Hollister of Westchester, Kruiser’s owner.

With Hollister dressed in her running gear and Kruiser with his leash and harness, the two were ready to take part in this year’s Race for the Rescues in the Hamlet — part of the 13th annual Happenin’ in the Hamlet in McLean.

This was the fourth year for the race, where participants could take part in either the 10K, 6.2 miles, or the 5K, 3.1 mile. They were both dog-friendly runs, although most chose to run with their dog in the 5K.

The run always supported dogs in some fashion, and for the first time this year it is raising money to benefit the Cornell University Police Department canine unit, said Tyler Lillie, chairwoman of the Race for Rescues race and event coordinator.

Unlike most canine units, Cornell University’s consists entirely of rescued dogs.

In 1999, the university adopted its first dog from a shelter to train for its canine unit, Lillie said. Since then, instead of raising puppies to become part of the unit, the university has been rescuing dogs instead.

The amount of interest in the run has steadily grown each year, Lillie said, with about 65 people taking part this year. Last year, the run raised more than $1,000, and was on track to do the same again this year, Lillie said.

“It is a good physical event,” she said. “We’re also trying to bring more publicity to Happenin’ in the Hamlet.”

Rain was a threat throughout the day, but that did not stop the dedicated runners — those on two legs and four.

McLean resident John Lyon brought his son, Taron, along to take part in the run, because his son’s baseball game was canceled.

“It is a fun activity to do together,” Lyon said. “He wants to beat his dad.”

For the dogs that were there, like Kruiser, each was just as eager to go running as the next.

Julie Barclay of Groton was there with her 4-year-old border collie, Burdock, patiently waiting to start the 5K run.

“He loves to run,” Barclay said.

They usually run trails, she said, so the distance is no problem for Burdock. He is also a rescue dog, having been adopted by Barclay about 3 1/2 years ago. So, while the run is a fun event for her to do with Burdock, she said it is for a good cause that she has a personal connection to.

Hollister, who grew up in Freeville and has a brother who works for the McLean Fire Department, has run the race three times, but this is the first year she is running it with Kruiser. Like Burdock, Hollister said Kruiser loves to run and they usually run together.

“He’s ready to go,” she said as Kruiser whimpered and whined, pacing back and forth, waiting for the race to begin.

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