Otto before the accident. (right)
On Christmas Day 2003, we were en-route to the cottage for a big family turkey dinner when our car was hit by a truck that failed to stop at a stop sign on a highway. In the course of the accident, the back end of our station wagon was demolished and the car was sent spinning violently into a farm field. Everything, except the three passengers wearing seatbelts, was jettisoned out of the car at extreme rates of speed. This included Otto, our Kerry Blue Terrier cross, who had been in his crate - carefully strapped down in the back of the station wagon. Our car was also loaded up for an extended Christmas holiday, so the car was full of suitcases, books, food, etc.
When I came to, I was strapped to a stretcher en route to the hospital in an ambulance. Once I understood that we had been in an accident and that all of the passengers were alive, my thoughts went to Otto. No one knew what had happened to him and his empty crate lay broken in the snow in the field near the car. My feelings of panic and helplessness were overwhelming.
Knowing how much our dog means to us, family members came to the accident scene to look for him but he was nowhere to be found. Closer examination of his crate revealed dark red stains all over his blankets. They feared the worst. They did learn, however, that a passer-by had seen a black dog running across the field right after the accident.
This happened in rural Canada in an area where the coyote population is very high. To further complicate things, the temperature on the evening of Christmas Day was cold and reached -14 Celsius [7 F) that night. Despite the fact that I was injured and stuck in the hospital overnight, all I could think about was my dog.
[My husband had only minor injuries.] The next morning he went to look for Otto. The farm land in the area is peppered with groves of trees in the fields in every direction. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. So, he stopped at a number of farm houses around the accident site and offered a reward to whoever found our dog, dead or alive. A small army of locals was activated and were out on snowmobiles, cars, trucks and on foot.
The dear soul who found Otto is an angel. She had the presence of mind to go back to the accident scene where she found his footprints in the snow and tracked him for about 6 kilometres [4 miles] through knee-deep snow. When she found him, she took off her coat and wrapped him in it and carried our 34 pound (16 kgr) dog about a kilometre (half mile) through the snow back to her car. When we picked him up, Otto was wrapped in blankets on the floor with a cat lying next to him. This was a sure sign he was an injured Kerry Blue Terrier. The vet exam told us he had broken all of his ribs on one side and had minor frostbite on the pads of his feet and his nose. His psychological trauma turned out to be the toughest injury to overcome. However, the arrival of a long-awaited bouncy puppy a month later helped take his mind off his experience.
We were surprised and thankful that a number of people cared enough about a stranger’s dog to venture out in the cold on Boxing Day (day after Christmas) and look for him. We were especially thankful for that one special person who persisted in difficult conditions to find him and reunite him with his people – and refused any financial reward.
We were thankful that Otto was in a crate and not loose in the car as he surely would have been impaled by the flying shrapnel from the back of the car and would not have survived the airborne trip out of the car.
We are thankful and somewhat mystified as to how Otto survived without being killed by coyotes. After all, he is a city dog and he was injured. Who knows what adventures he had that night. It must have been that Kerry Blue feistiness that gave him the strength to survive.
And those dark red stains all over the blankets in his crate turned out to be red wine from the bottle we were taking for dinner.
Otto had a full coat of gorgeous KBT hair prior to the car accident – he lost much of it after the trauma of the accident and the hair that grew back was thin. He then lost quite a bit of that coat during his 7 months of chemo 2 years ago and his coat is now a fine, lightly shedding coat. The picture of him smiling with his Frisbee is post-chemotherapy so he looks a little funny. Although the KBT coat may be gone – his KBT ATTITUDE is still fully intact.