MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - This is a story of two men on sometimes opposite sides of the law, and the dog that brought them together. A man who credits his dog with saving his life, and the trooper who was uniquely-equipped to keep his best friend alive.
Waylon Vaughn says he was suicidal when he adopted his black lab Ghost, who quickly became his rock.
"I thought he needed me, you know what I mean," Vaughn said. "And really I just needed him."
But on a fateful night in mid-July, Ghost was hit by a car near Milaca, Minn. Desperate when the local vet was closed, Vaughn called 9-1-1 and Trooper Jason Groh responded, expecting a human.
"The call was confusing because it came out that it might be a person," Groh said. "My best friend, I said my best friend's dying."
Trooper Groh spent a couple years in Iraq, working aero-medical evacuation. He spent weekends working the emergency room at the hospital in Baghdad's Green Zone, where he saw a lot of wounds to arms and legs. In his State Patrol medical kit, he still keeps the highly-adjustable tourniquets he used in Iraq to stop a lot of bleeding.
"With this you could wrap it as many times as you needed to get it to the size that was appropriate for dogs," Groh explained.
The wrap kept Ghost from bleeding out on the ride to the Affiliated Emergency Vet in St. Cloud. He had a cut from the upper part of his elbow all the way down to the top of his wrist area.
The dog that saved Waylon Vaughn was saved by a trooper, which has saved Waylon again. A felon and recovering drug user, he's been clean ever since.
"This day, it changed my heart," Vaughn said. "It delivered me from that lifestyle and that's the truth."