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EVERYDAY PEOPLE: Acting on gut instinct

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They often call a dog “man’s best friend” for a variety of reasons.

Loyalty, compassion and a seemingly unbreakable bond between humans and the panting pet, Kyle Linstad learned just exactly how strong that bond between dog and owner can be after he stumbled upon an accident on Crow Wing County Road 8 last July.

Linstad, a supply and staging technician for Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) in Brainerd, was returning from a job at Sullivan Lake when he noticed something awry.

“I was returning from a trip to an outside building (a facility managed by CTC) in Sullivan Lake when I came upon a lawn mower that was tipped over in the ditch,” said Linstad, who has been with CTC for six years. “I drove by and thought that, ‘well that’s kind of strange’ but really didn’t pay a whole lot of attention until I looked back in the mirror and saw this dog, running around like crazy around the mower and then I thought, ‘well now that’s really different’ so I turned around.

“I would have probably kept going if it wasn’t for that dog. That was what got me to go back.”

Making a U-turn to head back to the ditch where the tipped lawn mower lay, Linstad saw that an elderly gentleman, Delano Freeman, was caught underneath the sideways lying mower. Linstad said he immediately began calling to Freeman and was relieved to hear a response as he began to assist Freeman from underneath the mower.

Even more relief followed when he saw that Freeman wasn’t severely hurt.

“His foot had actually got caught by the deck of the mower and he had fallen when he went up around the top side of the ditch,” said Linstad who noted that another challenge arose when he found out Freeman required a walker to be mobile. “Luckily he had fallen in to the culvert so the steering wheel didn’t hit him but he was stuck in there pretty good, for even he didn’t know how long.”

Linstad went to Freeman’s home and got help from his wife, Donna Schweitzberger, who after hearing how the dog reacted, told him how close the two were.

“He (Freeman) loved to go out and mow, it was really the only thing he could do (with his disability) and that dog was always right there with him,” said Schweitzberger, who noted that her and Freeman adopted the dog, RCA, when she was a puppy from a shelter. “Everywhere he went, she went. When she was little she used to ride on that mower with him.

“They were best friends and thank goodness she reacted the way she did and drew his (Linstad’s) attention.”

So grateful for Linstad’s help, Schweitzberger called CTC to share the story. A story that reached CTC’s parent company, Minnesota Telecom Alliance (MTA), and earned Linstad the MTA 13th annual 21st Century Humanitarian Award.

“It was quite an honor,” said Linstad on winning the award this March. “I wasn’t going out to do anything extraordinary, I just reacted with my gut instinct kind of and was glad I was there to help. It was one of the most interesting days I had at work all in all to say the least.”

A day that Schweitzberger and man’s best friend, RCA, will never forget either.

“I am just so thankful for that day that he stopped because gas was running out of the tractor and who knows what might have happened had he not had the hindsight to come back,” she said, noting that RCA passed away March 8 at the age of 17. “Also of course I am thankful to RCA for reacting the way she did.

“I will forever be thankful for them both.”

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).