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That resonates with me. One winter evening two years ago, I returned from a road trip. I stopped at the post office and saw a lost-dog poster on the bulletin board. I felt a twinge. It was Tug, a chocolate lab friend of mine belonging to Dale, a neighbor. Tug, an affable dog, occasionally walked the half mile from his house to visit.
At home, there were two voices on the machine. The first was Dale, inquiring whether Tug was at our place. The second was Greg, a deputy county sheriff assigned to our area, with whom I often worked in my role of local fire chief. He said he’d been dispatched the night before to a location where a young couple stopped to aid an injured chocolate lab lying in the snow. They had called 911.
Greg wanted to know if the dog sounded familiar, and he left his personal cell number. I dialed. He was off-duty, but told me that when he arrived on-scene, the dog appeared to have a broken leg (struck by a young male driver?), and the couple volunteered to transport the dog to a vet. Greg contacted his dispatcher, who arranged for an emergency veterinarian call. The couple loaded the dog into their car and headed for town. Greg described the dog. It was Tug.
“Where did they take him?” I asked.
“Don’t know. Call Don at dispatch, he handled that end.”
I did. Don checked his communications log and gave me the name of the vet. I called Dale and told him that although Tug was not at my house, I did know his whereabouts. It was among the most agreeable phone calls I’ve ever made.
Would this chain of events, a marvelous mesh of public and private resources for the sake of an injured dog, have unfolded like that in my grandparents’ youth? My gut tells me no. At best there would’ve been a mercy killing, probably with a law enforcement service revolver. A county dispatcher tracking down a veterinarian after hours? I don’t think so.
As it was, everyone involved experienced the “warm fuzzies,” and I mean that in the best possible way. I sent an e-mail to the county sheriff commending his staff, and received a pleasant reply. Some may believe all this was over the top for a dog, but recall the proverb: “He who is faithful in little is also faithful in much.”
When we take care of the animals we take care of ourselves.
Peter M. Leschak, of Side Lake, Minn., is the author of “Ghosts of the Fireground,” “Letters from Side Lake” and other books.
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