Monday, June 27, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Small Town

We were going fishing.  That was the plan, that is, until our little pug, Ty, decided to do a face plant off a moving ATV.  He was seriously injured.

We headed into Mountain View, WY, the closest town from the remote spot in the Uinta Mountains where we were camping.  We flew down the dirt road into Lonetree, and as we made the curve the car stopped.  Just stopped.  We pulled over and it started back up again, but it wouldn’t go into overdrive. 

I checked my cell phone for service every 30 seconds.  (Are we there yet?) We finally made it into cell range just outside of Mountain View, and I found the Uinta Veterinary Hospital in Lyman.  I called to let them know we had an emergency.  Then I called again because I didn’t trust the Google map directions.  Then I called again because we just couldn’t see the place. 

Meanwhile, the car is getting worse.  By the time we finally arrived at the vet, the car would only go into first gear.  I hauled Ty into the hospital, which was really busy.  They checked me in and we waited for the one veterinarian on duty to take a look.

Outside, Paul chatted with a few locals.  They recommended Bradshaw for towing; Rees Automotive for the repair.  We knew we were looking at a new transmission – not something they stock in small-town Wyoming.  We also knew that we were stranded.  Our car was broken and we had no way to get back to our campsite where a working vehicle awaited.

Dr. Osborne, the vet on duty and hospital owner, had good news.  There were no broken bones and the lacerations could be stitched up.  He would need general anesthesia; the surgery would take about an hour and a half, and he’d need at least that long to recover.  Well, we weren’t going anywhere.

So we stayed all day at the veterinary hospital.  One of the vet techs, who had just finished her pre-vet program at Utah State, brought us coffee.  Each time a tech went to lunch, she offered to bring us something.  “No thank you.  My stomach is still tied up in knots.”  One of the techs offered to talk with her husband about taking a ride up the mountains and returning us to our campsite. 

We watched all morning and all afternoon as people came in and out of the hospital.  About half of these people weren’t there for the animal care.  They were picking up or dropping off items for a virtual silent auction.  The story:  a local young man was severely burned in an auto accident and was at the University of Utah Burn Center fighting for his life.  Dr. Osborne’s wife had set up the silent auction to raise funds for his medical bills, and the entire Bridger Valley had rallied around them.  It sounded like everyone in the towns of Mountain View, Lyman, Fort Bridger and Urie – and the surrounding ranch lands – had either donated an item, bought an item, or both.  As of that afternoon Mrs. Osborne had collected $25,000 of the over $50,000 raised.  Wow!

In the end, Bradshaw came to tow the car to Rees, we gathered Ty up with an assortment of medications and the dreaded cone of shame, and rode with the vet tech and her husband up the mountain.  They refused to let us give them money for gas.  The kindness and hospitality of the people of these small towns gives me faith that, even in the face of all the evil we see in the world, there is hope for humanity.   

Sadly, Ty died at 6:10 AM the next day.  He never woke up from the anesthesia. We took him back to Uinta Veterinary Hospital.  Their final act of kindness to us was to arrange for him to be cremated.  We made a donation to the silent auction fund in his memory.  

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