Saturday, March 27, 2010

super pet

Upsala, we agreed, is at the far-flung peripheral edge of the universe. It stands to reason then, that the fire chief's job includes peripheral duties not normally associated with dignified chiefliness. Like this weekend when I became Chief Dog Sitter. Let me explain.

When people crash in the 100 km stretch between Raith and English River, an ambulance, a cruiser, and a couple fire apparatus respond from Upsala. It's a basic response, similar in many ways to that of emergency responders in more central locations of the universe. When we get there, we fix the mess, the same as our universally caring brothers and sisters around the world. We stabilize and patch up and extricate and control. Sometimes we retrieve important papers or valued possessions. We even put water on fire occasionally. This is mainline stuff. All emergency responders do it.

But sometimes the unlucky travellers have equally unlucky pets with them, and this is where Upsala Fire Department's marginality comes into play. Here's how it goes:

Unlucky Traveller (who is now strapped to a backboard): What's going to happen to poor Fido?

Paramedic: Sorry, we have a policy about pets . . . how about you Mr. Police?

Policeman: Nope, no can do.

Unlucky Traveller: But Fido . . . we can't just leave him here in the bush . . . [everyone looks at the fire chief].

Fire Chief (that's me): Um, well . . . (looks around at the empty wilderness) . . . we don't exactly have a policy . . . (gazes into Fido's sad eyes and melts) . . . sure, we can look after him for a bit.

Once it went like this:

Paramedic: Ma'am, we need to get you out of this car . . .

Irate Injured Person: What about Fifi?

Paramedic: We can't take your cat in the ambulance . . . could you sit still so we can fasten this cervical collar?

Irate Injured Person: Who is going to take care of Fifi?

Paramedic: Ma'am, we can't take the cat. You need medical attention . . .


Paramedic (over his shoulder to the snickering firefighters) Can someone take the lady's [stupid] cat?

So Fido or Fifi come to the fire hall and hang out with me until the unlucky owner can shanghai a friend or relative into travelling to our edge of the universe to retrieve the pet.

In places that are closer to the centre of the universe, specialized agencies exist to take care of these things . . . like the pound or the Humane Society. If I called either place, they'd say, "You're in Upsala? Sorry, we don't do intergalactic responses."


Pets are amazingly resilient in vehicle crashes. While the bruised, battered and broken owners are loaded into ambulances, the furry companions are freaked but usually unscathed. And they rarely have the benefit of even a seatbelt.

Like the lady who rocketed off an embankment, left her front wheels on a boulder, and end-over-ended into the ditch. While we were loading her, she asked about her dog. I surveyed the upside down wreck and suspected that he was underneath, smashed flat. But we're firefighters . . . we have to try, so we fanned out through the bush calling and looking. A few minutes later, here comes Fido, trotting down the highway without a care in the world.

After I've finished my fling on archeological research, perhaps I should do a comparative study on the effects of G Forces on animals vs humans. Or maybe not. It's hard enough to recruit volunteer firefighters . . .


  1. Some day I'm going to grab my turnouts, grab the next flight to Upsala--intergalactic transport, of course--and do a ride-along. This post has jogged the memory, and inspired a, no TWO, future postings. Thanks.

    Feel your pain about pets, though. I have a soft spot for 'em.

  2. I'm liking this intergalactic blog exchange thing. BTW, pack a big bag if want to come for a ride-along . . . we can go a loooong time without a call. :-)


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