After a drunk driver plowed his pickup truck into Jeffrey Groat’s living room in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Thursday night, Groat was rushed to a hospital. His “teacup” Great Dane, Burke, ran off and disappeared.
Groat had been playing cards with Sherri Bloom and his 10-year-old daughter, with Burke nearby, when the truck barreled through the wall next to the front door, according to the Associated Press.
Trapped underneath the truck, Groat had to be removed by emergency personnel. He suffered cuts and cracked ribs. All three of the house occupants had to be hospitalized at Kootenai Health. Burke was also injured, but he bolted out through the hole left by the truck.
The driver of the truck, Thomas Scott Heinbaugh, ran off after the crash but was later arrested.
Groat constantly asked about Burke while he was in the hospital. “It was a big, big stress for him,” Brandi Bieber, a family friend, told the Coeur d’Alene Press.
A local resident reading about the accident in the Coeur d’Alene Press Saturday morning recognized Burke’s photo. In fact, on Thursday night, the Good Samaritan had seen Burke, who was not wearing a collar, limping outside the emergency room of Kootenai Health. The unidentified man took Burke home and was trying to find his owner.
“He’s (Burke) been hanging out in the guy’s living room,” Bieber told the Press. “They picked him up Thursday night near the emergency room. We think maybe the dog followed the ambulance and sounds of the sirens.”
Bieber, along with family and friends, brought Burke to the hospital for a surprise reunion with Groat.
“We kept it all very hush, hush,” she told the Press. “A nurse told Jeff she was taking him outside to get some fresh air.”
It was hard to tell who was happier to see the other. “Burke is younger and was really excited,” Bieber told the Press. “We had to keep him from jumping on Jeff because he wanted to play.”
Groat was released from the hospital on Saturday. His house, where he lives with Sherri Bloom and his 10-year old daughter, who were both also hospitalized, was so badly damaged that it has been condemned. To help cover the expenses of Groat and his family, a “Bloom and Groat Benefit Account” has been set up through Sterling Bank. Donations can be made at any of the bank’s branches.
Burke is not the only dog to have followed his pet parent to a hospital. In October 2012, a Husky named Zander crossed a busy highway and a stream in Long Island, N.Y., on his 2-mile journey to track down his dog dad John Dolan, who’d been hospitalized for a skin condition.
As with Burke, a Good Samaritan saw Zander standing outside the hospital, and called the number on his ID tag. It was the number of Dolan’s cell phone, which started ringing on the table next to his hospital bed.