What would you do if your doorbell rang at night, with strangers at the door of your ranch house?
The woman was cradling something in a blanket. They were lost, said the man, and couldn’t’ find the country veterinarian they had called Thursday.
“Our dog is very sick,” the woman said. She held the little white dog in her arms, like a baby. It had collapsed at their home, about 20 miles away, and they had revived it.
“Would you come with us?”
What would you do?
Jan Roberts, a dog and horse lover and owner of the Ute Springs Ranch outside Westcliffe, Colo., didn’t hesitate. She knew the vet. “He had taken care of my horse,” she said. She would lead them there in her car.
Accompanied by her daughter, Cara, my wife, they headed off into the night.
A half-hour later, Jan and Cara returned. They had found the vet.
The next morning, the ranch house phone rang.
It was Martha Davis, the woman at the door with her husband James Davis.
She thanked Roberts for her Good Samaritan act.
“You saved our dog’s life,” she said.
The vet, Dr. Kit Ryff, found puncture wounds on Sammie D’s head. She had been bitten by a rattlesnake. Ryff gave the dog a 50 percent chance of making it through an anti-venom shot and a 90 percent chance of survival after that.
“We would have never found the vet without your help,” said Davis.
“Sammie might not have survived another hour and a half to the Animal Emergency Hospital in Pueblo,” Davis wrote in an email.We had already been on the road 45 minutes when we saw your lights.”
They were losing the race against time when they stopped at Roberts’ ranch. They had stopped at another ranch, with lights on, she said. But no one came to the door.
I asked Jan why she reached out to the strangers in need.
“In any rural area, neighbors help neighbors,” she said. “It’s the code of the west.”
Don’t forget to mention Dr. Ryff, she said. In a twist of irony, two nights later Roberts was calling with an after-hours emergency of her own: A relative who was staying at Roberts’ ranch noticed her dog was passing blood. Roberts made another emergency run to see Ryff. The dog recovered.
Roberts called Ryff “a true country vet.”
Martha Davis posted the following account on the Custer County Colorado Happenings, a local blog:
“Thursday evening our 10-pound Pomeranian was bitten by a rattlesnake in the Boneyard Park area. She was eating grass under the steps of our deck. She made it up three steps before she passed out. I found her right away and brought her up to the kitchen where I began putting cold ice water on her face and praying for her to live. We immediately called Dr. Kit Ryff in rural Westcliffe and he told us to bring her to his house. By the time we got to his area we were lost and it was very dark. We stopped by the house of Jan Roberts. Jan and her daughter got in their car and led us to Dr. Ryffs house. Dr. Ryff shaved the top of her head and found two puncture wounds where the rattlesnake had bitten her. He immediately began giving her fluids and anti-venom. To make a long story short, our little girl was out running a half mile on her walk today. I want to thank God first of all and then Dr. Julie Sperry for the rattlesnake vaccine that Sammie had in May, then I want to thank Jan Roberts for leading us to Dr. Ryff’s house in the dark and Dr. Ryff for treating Sammie and for having the rattlesnake anti venom on hand and to thank all the prayer warriors for praying for God to spare Sammie’s life. Westcliffe is a wonderful place to live and to retire to.”