By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily
Tammy Davidson didn’t think there were any good guys anymore.
Then, her faith was restored after a handful of strangers — and an unknown tow truck driver known only as Shawn — went out of their way to help her and her husband find their beloved dachshund after a wreck near Rawlins.
Tammy and her husband David had the bad luck to run into the Oct. 12 snowstorm near Rawlins as they drove on Interstate 80 from their home in Missouri to Washington, where they would be dropping off a trailer for a client.
Tammy recalled David driving the truck across a bridge and the pickup being hit with a gust of snow and wind that jackknifed their trailer and swung them around, causing the pickup to roll over and trapping the two inside the vehicle.
Tammy is not sure how the family’s 12-year-old dachshund “Buddy” got out of the pickup but speculates he might have been thrown through the broken sunroof and gotten lost in the snow.
Buddy is a service animal for David, who has diabetes. He has never been away from the Tammy and David or even out on his own, let alone in the middle of the snowstorm.
While the Davidsons waited for emergency responders to come to their aid, all Tammy could think of was that the truck would ignite and they’d be burned in the fire. Then her thoughts turned to Buddy, even as she remained trapped inside the cab of the pickup truck.
Her first words to Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Nick Haller, who she said stayed with her in the vehicle, had to do Buddy’s disappearance.
Although Haller tried to cut Tammy out of the cab, she would not be removed from the pickup truck until firefighters spent 45 minutes cutting her out of the vehicle. She was told she survived only because she had been reclining in her seat. Had she been sitting upright, she would have been crushed on impact.
From the moment of their rescue, the kindness shown by strangers in Carbon County continued in ways that still blow the Davidsons away as they look back on that terrible day.
After a quick trip to the hospital where they were examined and released with minor cuts and bruises, the Davidsons received an escort to the Best Western Cottontree Inn in Rawlins.
When the night auditor saw that Tammy was dressed in warm-weather clothing and flip flops, she told her manager Casey Shinkle that she was taking Tammy to Walmart to get some clothes. During the trip, Tammy told the employee about Buddy and the woman immediately took up her cause, explaining the situation to Shinkle.
“We’re all a bunch of animal lovers,” Shinkle told Cowboy State Daily Tuesday, “so we wanted to do whatever we could to help.”
The Search For Buddy
He posted a photo of Buddy on his Facebook page and several others locally and the picture was later shared by radio station KTGA in Saratoga. The post got more than 1,500 shares, Shinkle said, and community members went to work trying to find the dachshund wearing a little brown sweater who was lost in the snow.
If it hadn’t been in the middle of a snowstorm, Shinkle said he would have gone searching for the dog himself, but instead he and desk clerk Moselle Wolfe and the night auditor did what they could to help spread the word.
That night was probably the longest night of the Davidsons’ lives, Tammy said. The two were absolutely despondent not knowing where Buddy was or if he’d survive the night alone along the highway.
David took it particularly hard. Tammy can’t remember the last time she saw her husband cry, but that night, the tears flowed. Buddy is not only David’s service animal but travels and sleeps with him when he’s on the road, twice saving his life when his blood sugar levels dropped perilously low.
“We were sick,” Tammy said from her home in Missouri, “and absolutely devastated. Buddy is his lifeline and I was scared David would go into a deep depression.”
Tiny Paw Prints
Finally, about 9 p.m. the next evening, the couple got a call at their hotel room. It was a tow truck driver named Shawn, who had called to say he’d found Buddy when he’d gone back that day to haul out the trailer.
The driver said he’d followed a set of tiny paw prints through the snow to find the shivering pup near the accident scene. Tammy asked the driver if he’d bring the dog over to their hotel since they had no transportation and the driver agreed.
“David was on cloud nine,” Tammy said when the couple reunited with Buddy in the hotel lobby. “His whole mood. Everything changed. It was such an incredible moment.”
Other than having bloodshot eyes and being very cold, Buddy was just fine and happy to be back with his people, Tammy said.
She thought the tow truck driver worked for Metz Towing, but Cowboy State Daily could not find any such company after making several phone calls to Rawlins businesses.
Apart from all the people who went out of their way to help the couple, the Davidsons were also pleasantly surprised when Quality Motors loaned them a car to drive to Cheyenne to get a rental car.
“I was shocked by the people and how nice they all were to us,” Tammy said. “They did everything for us. There’s usually no good guys anymore but now I have a totally different view.”
For his part, Buddy is happy to be reunited with his “wife” Dora and one of their puppies.
Now safely home, the couple continues to count their blessings as they reflect on the experience.
“God was definitely riding shotgun with us that day,” Tammy said.