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Why I love Duluth

At about 1:25 pm today, I rushed down 27th Avenue West and onto the highway, speeding toward the dentist appointment I was going to be late for. As soon as I pulled into traffic, everything slowed to a standstill. Even more confusing, I could see that all lanes were stopped, but forward of 15 cars ahead of me the road was wide open. I tried to look ahead to see what was causing the delay (and bitching that I was going to have an upset dentist waiting for me). I was looking for signs of a car accident, but didn’t see any cars out of place. A quick moving shadow drew my attention – there was a black lab running around on the highway!

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap! I could see bits of him as he was running around ahead of all the cars. What the hell do I do?!? I was too far back to do anything, and was just hoping that I wouldn’t witness a horrible dog vs. car collision. I looked ahead in a panic, but realized that even though every lane of the highway was full of cars, no one was moving faster than the dog. An entire section of the freeway basically closed down while every driver there thought about saving a dog, rather than the places they needed to be. I saw a few cars try to herd him up the 21st/Piedmont exit, but at the last minute, he veered out to the far light lane and further down the highway. There were a few cars that pulled over to try to grab him, but he just kept running toward downtown.

We all followed slowly behind him, a few cars slowly sneaking past once they were no longer a danger to the dog. Traffic from the High bridge started merging onto the highway, and they too paused for the dog that was frantically running from lane to lane. I kept waiting for everyone to decide they had waited long enough and traffic to start up again, but it never happened. All traffic continued at a dog’s pace until someone was able to pull over and dart into traffic to grab him just before the Mesaba exit. A few people in cars (including me) cheered when they realized he was safe.

For over a mile, everyone rushing on a Duluth freeway forgot about where they were going and instead worked to save the life of a wayward dog — how completely awesome is that? In many other cities, that dog wouldn’t have had a chance. Maybe a few cars would try to keep harm from coming to him, but not the whole freeway!

So that is my story about how much I love my city, how even when we’re busy, we can still stop what we’re doing to care for those in need, and that my awesome dentist was still kind enough to let me in, even though I was 25 minutes late.

So thank you, caring citizens of Duluth, but especially maroon SUV guy who ran out onto the highway to get an exhausted doggy off the road and into his back seat. You’re all awesome, and I’m proud to be living along side of you!

(dramatic reenactment of highway dog safe in the car)

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40 Comment(s)

  1. Greatest. Story. Ever.

    Gotta love Duluth!

    Teal | Jan 26, 2011 | New Comment
  2. Duluthian Kevin Rapanna is our mystery dog rescuer. Good guy all around. Thanks Kevin!

    G R | Jan 26, 2011 | New Comment
  3. Wow, hearing stories like that restores my faith in Duluthians. Thanks for telling us about it, Bad Cat!

    Claire | Jan 26, 2011 | New Comment
  4. Hey, how do you know who picked up the dog? And how’s the dog doing?

    BadCat! | Jan 26, 2011 | New Comment
  5. I love this story!

    laurie | Jan 26, 2011 | New Comment
  6. A smarter dog would have read the freeway restrictions sign.

    Need | Jan 26, 2011 | New Comment
  7. When trolling for dogs, I notice the black ones, especially Labrador Retrievers are the more plentiful/less desired. Poor Black Labs.

    Sherwood | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  8. Very sweet!

    Rae | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  9. I think this story started out the same as my afternoon commute from East to West Duluth.

    While cruising on the freeway I met sort of the same backed up traffic on the freeway around the Depot area. Frustration ensued; it was as if I was transported back to last summer when all traffic stood still during the 4:45 pm commute.

    As I cursed and thought “this is too early to start the summer construction” I slowly rolled upon a truck moving in my direction picking up orange cones from the road — signaling the end of the Road Work. I think I heard a ceremonious cheer all around.

    BadCat, your story does remind me that I need to slow down — physically and mentally. We never know the stories of the other drivers or obstacles that really may need a little more patience in their day.

    Heysme | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  10. Good story.

    Another dog-related story:
    A couple of years ago a person I know in Duluth hit a large dog with his car and pretty seriously injured it. The person stopped and picked the dog up to take him to the animal hospital. The scared dog mauled him seriously. The person still got him in the car, blood everywhere, and to the animal hospital. I believe the dog survived. The person got many-many stitches in his hands and arms. I know the person “packs heat” and could have just as easily finished off the animal by the road, but chose to save him.

    The noble and valiant walk among us.

    Elden | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  11. Hey that guy that rescued the dog is a REALTOR! Kevin Rappana. Thanks for posting this story badcat. Truly amazing.

    GK | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  12. This is the kind of stuff that makes me love Duluth. Y’all should be proud, I can’t wait until I move there permanently.

    KayeOh | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  13. Paul Lundgren | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  14. Within seconds of me slapping together the image above, an e-mail arrived at PDD from Kevin Rappana’s wife Valerie. Kevin brought the dog to the pound and it turns out she is pregnant.

    “Kevin says she was a very sweet dog, happy to sit up front for a ride and didn’t even try and eat his lunch, which was sitting on the front seat,” Valerie wrote. “If she is not claimed in the next week she will be put up for adoption through Animal Allies.”

    Valerie included a photo:

    Paul Lundgren | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  15. Perhaps since she is pregnant the long arm of the law will be lenient on her.

    Paul Lundgren | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  16. This is the best feel-good story of the week! I’ve always felt the way someone treats an animal tells me everything I know about his or her character. Kevin Rappana totally rocks. And so does the guy Elden wrote about (except for the fact that he “packs heat”).

    Claire | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  17. I hate to take away some of the feel-good of this story, but the dog had no tags and the people at the pound are speculating that she was dumped by her owner, perhaps because she is pregnant.

    But the middle part of the story is still sweet and hopefully a nice home will be found and all will be well that ends well.

    Paul Lundgren | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  18. Oh, and since we don’t know the dog’s name, I propose we call her Northbound.

    Paul Lundgren | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  19. Paul, your “And Hero to Duluth Canines” almost made me spit my cheerios on my laptop!

    I’m hoping that she wasn’t dumped by her owner for getting knocked up. She’s still wearing a collar, so if they wanted to get rid of her, they’d keep that, right?

    Also, a tip that Eldon’s buddy could have used: dogs that are scared and in pain can really mess you up, here’s how to make an emergency dog muzzle.

    Bad Cat! | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  20. Oh, and in a weird turn of events, when I first searched the web using Kevin’s name, I found his LinkedIn profile, which showed that 12 years ago, he had the exact job I currently have.
    Maybe someday I’ll work my way up to canine hero! :)

    Bad Cat! | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  21. I really hope Northbound’s former owner did not just dump her on a highway. That is beyond sick, when the person could just bring the dog to the local shelter, for god’s sake. I don’t understand people like that — who just abandon animals like that on the road, in the wild.

    Claire | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  22. Very nice story, it’s nice to hear about people who care:)

    Debbie Ronding | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  23. This was the best traffic jam I’ve ever been in. I was so relieved when I saw the people up ahead of me pull over and get that doggy out of danger.

    Debbie | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  24. Does this mean all black dogs will forever be discriminated against no more? Hell, I don’t want a black dog neither. And I don’t even know why. Maybe just cause I like the mottled look. If you need your dog to blend in at night though, it’s the way to go!

    Sherwood | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  25. Bad Cat, this is such a good story. Hooray for black dogs!

    bluenewt | Jan 27, 2011 | New Comment
  26. This story makes me feel good because I am thinking it may be the dog I posted about about 10 days ago, the black lab that jumped the guard rail on the east side of hwy 53, into traffic near Miller Creek and into the woods.

    They look similar. I searched 2 hours and even talked to the neighbors on Piedmont side and there was a sighting of the lab but she just kept running from us. Glad the dog is safe. Thanks Kevin.

    deb holman | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  27. Hey, Bad Cat — I’m Wendy Webb, editor-in-chief of Duluth Superior Magazine. I’d like to run your essay in our April issue, which focuses on the Best Of Duluth. And this certainly is. Loved the story.

    Please contact me at


    Wendy Webb | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  28. What a great story. You are so right, we all need to slow down and start thinking about others and animals. This story makes me proud that I am from Duluth. Thank you for sharing something that made me want to be a better person.

    Patricia | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  29. Hurrah for Bad Cat! I’m glad the DS Magazine wants to pick up your posting, this story deserves some legs.

    Claire | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  30. Ditto, Claire. This story deserves legs.

    Don’t tell Mrs. Goose, but this story is compelling enought that it makes me want to finally give in to her repeated pleadings and agree to get a dog. I’ve tried Black Labs before though and they are not exactly right for our quasi-sedentary, lots of young children, gone most of the time lifestyle. Hopefully someone else with a lot of land to run, and a lot of time to enjoy the outdoors will adopt Northbound (and/or her offspring) and relieve me of that notion. Please let us know if you hear anything.

    wildgoose | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  31. Wildgoose -- so glad to hear that you’re getting a dog, but totally agree that you have to get the right dog for your situation.

    We have two huskies right now, one of which we got from friends after she caused their youngest to get several stitches on his face. She’s not a bad dog, but thinks before she acts, which is not great in combination with toddlers.

    I think the perfect family dogs are the adult dogs at the pound. They’ve gone through their crazy high-energy puppy phase, have settled down and are usually a lot more tolerant and are much easier to predict their behavior. Older dogs are harder to adopt because everyone wants a cute fuzzy puppy, but they’re the best dogs at the pound!

    Good luck with your doggie search, be sure to do your research on which breeds would be good or not good for your particular situation, but also take the time to get to know the dog (and the dog to get to know your family) before you make a decision.

    Also, spazzy huskies + toddlers do not mix. ;)

    Bad Cat! | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  32. What a great story. It is nice to read something positive. I knew Kevin back in college and he has always been a great guy. Doesn’t surprise me a bit that he took the time to stop and help her… Way to go, Kevin!! So happy for the lucky dog :)

    Kristi | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  33. I’m just glad the realtor was at the right place at the right time to save the dog and get traffic moving again, and I’m glad Bad Cat was there to tell the world the story.

    Claire | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  34. To update this: An animal control officer told me the owner picked up the dog the same day she was dropped off. So she’s home and safe. And she wasn’t pregnant. Just a little chubby.

    Nanners | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  35. LOL! Well at least she got a good workout. :)
    I wonder if the owners know about her interesting adventure?

    Bad Cat! | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  36. You mean after all this the dog wasn’t even pregnant or abandon?!? Oh my holy crap. I gotta admit fat labs are pretty cute, the way their butt wiggles… But it’s animal cruelty to constantly feed your dog Wonder Bread soaked in milk, with occasional ice cream for good behavior, so don’t even think about leaving her with Grandma for four years while you’re overseas.

    Sherwood | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  37. As a former Duluthian I am often telling others how wonderful the people of my hometown are. They don’t always believe me, I’m sure. This not only adds to my extensive file of evidence, it may become the lead item. Thank you Duluth for making me proud of my hometown yet again!

    Paul | Jan 28, 2011 | New Comment
  38. Bad Cat! | Feb 1, 2011 | New Comment
  39. I wonder?!?!

    What is Black Dog Syndrome?

    Black Dog Syndrome refers to the problem shelters frequently encounter when trying to adopt out black dogs. If a black dog and any other color of dog of the same size, age, and temperament are side by side in kennels the colored dog will always get adopted before the black dog. There have been many theories about why this could be. Maybe the black dogs don’t photograph as well so people aren’t attracted to them when they see their pictures on Petfinder? Maybe they blend into the background at the shelter and are overlooked for their flashier companions? Maybe people are afraid that they are more hyper or bad luck? Whatever the reason black dogs are often kept waiting while their companions shuffle quickly in and out of the shelter. For more info on black dog syndrome check out these websites.

    Are you looking to adopt a black dog? Animal Allies can help! Starting today through February 13th Animal Allies Humane Society is offering a special deal on all black dogs. All black dogs over the age of six months of age have a $50 discount on their adoption fee. Adoption fees include microchip and registration fee, temperament test, veterinary exam, vaccinations, deworming, and spaying/ neutering.

    Sherwood | Feb 5, 2011 | New Comment
  40. I am originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and moved far east a year ago this week. I have spent a lot of time in Duluth, and I have been on the road a lot and I have to say that my favorite city is Duluth. Sure, there are beautiful cities like Paris or Venice and whatnot, but that doesn’t matter to me. The great lakes are in my heart and soul and run through my veins, and I miss it so much, even the insane winter cold. It was so easy to meet people in Duluth, the city is beautiful, the scenery and the St. Louis River and the bridges that cross it. I used to get so excited when I’d first see the radio towers from so many miles away, and driving up Skyline for a view of the city when a full moon came up over the water and long cargo ships passed by. The Duluth that makes way for a dog on the freeway is the Duluth I remember, and I’m happy and kind of sad that I read this story because the people I have met were wonderful, but I am getting homesick as I approach a full year away from home. This place just isn’t the same.

    Billy R | Feb 27, 2011 | New Comment

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