Small-town people have big hearts

December 11, 2012|By TIM ROWLAND |

Beth always says it’s a good thing she didn’t have children given the inordinate amount of attention she showers on mere animals. My idea is that the animals are often more worthy of care, but that is another matter.

So when the SUV she calls Big Red was in the middle of tipping over on a steep hill last week, her first thought was not for her own health and safety, but for her dogs, which were on the way to the groomer’s.

The bouvier de Flanders named Opie, as has been documented in past columns, has a soulful howl/moan (Opie’s Opera, they call it at the vet’s) that can get a bit other-worldly when the animal is distressed. This time he really had something to moan about, although when I arrived on the scene of the accident he had extracted himself (and so had Beth, thanks to the Butler family) and was not looking particularly aggrieved.

Living in a small community has its advantages. The first emergency responder to the scene happened to be David Truax, who, with his brother Allen, built our house. After the medics had checked out Beth, David not only took her home, but — I am not kidding — fixed a loose cabinet door while he was there.

And since Jimmy and his rollback at Roy’s garage is basically on speed dial, considering our recent adventures with Big Red, he all but beat the fire trucks to the scene.

Prior to this, however, it had become apparent that Opie had gotten the worst of it, with a significant gash on his ankle, veins and tendons all kind of jumbled messily together like farm-policy legislation.

Out here, the state and county police know what’s important too. As I offered to help Beth with the accident report, they said no, don’t worry about the paperwork, attend to your dog.

The medics bound up his leg as best they could, and I was off to see Dr. Tara Cumley at Funkstown Animal Hospital. I had not quite reached Hancock when — call me a keen medical genius if you must — I deduced that Opie needed help faster than interstate travel would allow, based on the three inches of accumulated blood in the back seat.

People might not think they make much difference in this world, but the smallest kindness can have amazing results. I called Dogs R Us, the groomer, where Stephanie Hanna gave me the number of the Berkeley Springs Animal Hospital, which I called and, being almost to Hancock they quickly directed me to Dr. Dan Murphy, whom I found with the help of the kind women at Sheetz and the receptionists in Dr. Matt Hahn’s medical practice.

Dr. Murphy rapidly tied off a vein, allowing me to get to Funkstown, where basically the entire staff stayed until 9 p.m. stitching him up.

Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier that I had the bulldog named Hannah with me through all this, which, it can only be said, made things look infinitely more interesting. She was not happy that Opie was getting all the attention. She would make a good human, in that respect. So tending to the Needy One at the same time I was trying to keep Opie calm took a lot of hands, even though Opie was pretty oblivious to his injury and was more concerned with the health and whereabouts of his mom.

Beth arrived at the vets, of course, against all kinds of instructions to stay put and rest. After Opie was repaired by Tara, she took Opie in to the Mountain View Animal Emergency, where Dr. Heidi Mostoller and the techs monitored and medicated Opie through the night — amused, no doubt, by his signature canine falsetto.

It sounds as if he’ll be fine, but only thanks to the actions of about 30 fast-thinking and immeasurably kind people.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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