SAN ANGELO, Texas - When Mason County EMS responded to a call recently, they never anticipated their emergency run would turn into an unforgettable account of a bond between a dog and its owner.
"It was a crazy ordeal," said Tanner Brown, an emergency medical technician who has been with the county for a year.
About 20 miles into the ambulance’s journey to a Fredericksburg hospital, a driver flagged them down and told them there was a dog on the side of the ambulance, Brown said.
Buddy, a 35-pound Beagle mix, hitched a ride on the small side step of the ambulance to be with his owner, 85-year-old JR Nicholson, a Mason County rancher.
"We didn’t have anything else to do but to load the dog up and put him in the ambulance and take him to the ER with us," Brown said.
Brown remembers making the run out to Nicholson’s ranch in October after Nicholson’s ranch hand Brian Wright called for an ambulance. Nicholson had told Wright he felt dizzy and asked to go to the hospital.
Brown and his partner picked up Nicholson and set off on the nearly one-hour journey to a hospital in Fredericksburg.
Wright said he remained behind to lock up.
"I stayed to close up here," Wright said. "But I couldn’t find Buddy."
Buddy has a habit of roaming around the ranch, so when Wright couldn’t find him it wasn’t a huge concern. Buddy always made his way back.
Wright said once he got to the hospital he was surprised when the EMS crew told him they had the dog.
"Two things go through your mind in a split second," Wright said. “First, what could have happened to (Buddy), and second, you realize he is quite an animal."
Wright described Buddy as a playfully curious dog who likes rides on the tractor back on the ranch.
"It was kind of funny. We were inside and he had jumped onto the control switch and turned on the sirens and the lights," Brown said as they were inside the emergency room. "We didn’t know what was going on."
Brown said he had never experienced something like that on the job before.
"It was kind of weird," Brown said. "I guess the dog wanted to be with his owner."
During Nicholson’s short stay at the hospital — he was released the same day — nurses brought him out to see Buddy.
"I was impressed," Nicholson said. “He didn’t have to go to the hospital with me, but he did."
Nicholson said he likes dogs and got Buddy about four months ago from an animal shelter in Mason.
"I had two dogs (before Buddy), but I had to put one of them down," Nicholson said. "He came along at just the right time."
"He’s now a member of the family."