Fidget and the Ranger

            Dan Doherty worked for the forestry service for 30 years and in all that time he had always brought his faithful companion to work with him.  When his last dog Spencer died, he got a little female Springer Spaniel that he named Fidget.  He named her that because she was always in motion and couldn’t sit still.  Fidget was a beautiful dog with shiny black and white fur.  She was only five weeks old when Dan started taking her to work and teaching her how to be a real forestry service dog.  She was so small that he had to pet her head with one finger. 

            Fidget learned early on to be friendly around all people and their pets.  People just loved to see Fidget when Dan was working on the trails or in the campgrounds. Small children, who were fearful of dogs, were allowed to touch Fidget to learn not to be afraid.

            Fidget was a quiet dog.  Dan trained her not to bark at every sound or movement, but only when there was a real threat imminent.  Fidget was so quiet that when they were in the woods a little way off the trail, people would often walk by and never see them.  Their dogs didn’t even notice as long as a scent wasn’t coming their way. 

            She was highly skilled in wilderness.  Dan taught her how to climb, swim, and cross logs.  She became a superb hunter and knew the scents of all the animals in the forest. 

            Dan had an especially close relationship with Fidget, as he was a single person with no children.  In fact, all his relatives were gone, and he was the sole survivor in his family.  Fidget was like his kid with the only difference being that she would never grow up and leave home. 

            Then something terrible happened.  The district ranger that Dan and Fidget dearly loved died of a horrible brain tumor, and it was a real sad loss. A new ranger came in and was very different.  The first thing he did was to ban the cat from the office that the ladies had saved off the streets.  He said, “It isn’t professional to have a cat in the office.” 

            Somewhere down the line somebody had hurt the ranger and now he was going to get back at the world by hurting others and being mean just for meanness sake.

            Then one day Dan received a radio call from headquarters.  “Doherty, this is headquarters, we need you to report back to the station ASAP.”  Dan got a really uneasy feeling, because he knew what was coming.  He had survived many a backstabbing in his long career with the forestry service, but now he knew he had met his match.  The new ranger’s heart had become as hard as the Pharoah of Egypt when he chased the Jews to the Red Sea after the slaying of the firstborn sons.

            And so Dan reluctantly climbed the stairs of the office and walked down the hall to the ranger’s room.  There sat his boss and the new ranger.  Dan sat down and the ranger said, “Dan, I am going to get right to the point, you cannot bring your dog to work with you in the government truck anymore, because it is a liability.”  Dan replied, “Yes sir,” and left the room.

            As he looked over at Fidget that night in the small cabin where he lived in the Eastern Sierra, a great sadness came over him. He knew that without Fidget by his side, he could never be happy or feel secure out in the forest.  He knew what he had to do. So the next day he went quietly into the office in his civilian clothes and submitted his resignation.  He vowed that day that he would never be separated from his dog for any reason.  He saw the ranger as a man who valued not the good service of the employee but only wanted to bully others and force his will. 

            Dan resumed his life, got other jobs, and continued hiking with Fidget.  As a coincidence, one day Dan and Fidget arrived at one of their favorite trails and noticed a forestry truck in the parking lot.  Dan didn’t pay much attention and started hiking up the trail. It was a real nice day and things were real pleasant, when Dan heard a loud pop.  Fidget’s ears perked up, and a rockslide came down above and off to the left of them.  The slide peeled around a rock outcrop in the center, where Dan thought he’d seen a hiker just moments before. After the dust and smoke cleared they ran over to see if there was a person there. Dan spotted a Smokey the Bear hat and after Fidget smelled it, she took off uphill.

            Within minutes Fidget located the buried hiker whose hand was sticking out of the rubble.  Dan dug frantically until his hands were bleeding to locate the hiker’s face.  As the head of the hiker was revealed and Fidget licked the dirt off his face, Dan was astonished to see that it was none other than the new ranger.  He was unconscious but had a pulse.  Dan dug as fast as he could to free the ranger’s body.  Even Fidget was trying to dig.  When he got to the ranger’s legs he could see that there was a serious injury.  The ranger had a compound fracture with a bone protruding and was bleeding profusely. 

            Immediately, Dan got out his pocketknife and cut strips from his shirt to apply a tourniquet.  Then he grabbed two limber pine branches to make a splint and tied that on.  Now he had to carry the ranger over his shoulder for a mile back down the steep rocky trail and release the tourniquet every few minutes to let the flood flow.

            Dan was totally exhausted when he reached the trailhead and luckily some sightseers just happened to be there to call 911.  Within minutes the paramedics came and hauled the ranger away.  Of course he survived and the story got out to the media.

            Now Dan and Fidget were heroes and the Chief of the forestry service flew out from Washington to present them with an award and grant Dan his job back.  It was a big national media event when Dan and Fidget stepped up to the podium to accept the award.  The Chief made the new ranger present the award, even though the ranger felt uncomfortable in doing so.  And with all of the hoopla the Chief said, “Dan Doherty, On behalf of the forestry service we would like to present you with this award for saving the ranger’s life, and we would also hope that you will accept the offer of your job back.”

            Dan replied, “No thanks Chief, because Fidget and I are heading back down the trail.”  And with that Dan and Fidget turned and walked away and can still be seen hiking in their beloved mountains to this day. 

One Response to “Fidget and the Ranger”

  1. Amy Says:

    Hello Scotty,

    Just wanted to follow up with this comment to let you know that you’ve won a spot on our list! 🙂

    http://www.forestrydegree.net/top-100-resources/

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