A Mountain of Help

When a coyote attacked a dog in his care in a rural area, Larry N. found assistance with the push of a button.

Tucked into the trees on 10 acres near mountains, Larry Nobrega’s cottage was as pretty a getaway as you could find. There was a pond, a small dock and plenty of room for the dogs to run and play.

“We’d go up there every other weekend and never had a problem,” he says.

That quickly changed one Sunday morning. He and his husband Rick were at the cottage with their two dogs. Larry’s mother had joined them and brought along her two dogs. Plus, they were watching a friend’s dog, a 9-month-old terrier named Snickers, while their friend was on vacation in Paris. “We had all these dogs up there, and they went running out into the woods,” Larry says.

That was normal. What happened next wasn’t. The dogs shot back through the dog door, one after the other. All but one: Snickers. That’s when they heard what sounded like a dog fight.

They charged into the woods, making as much noise as they could and discovered a coyote. The noise scared it away. That freed Snickers, who ran back to the house, through the door and into the bathroom, hiding behind the toilet.

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Larry could tell he was injured and probably pretty badly. They managed to get Snickers wrapped up in a blanket and out to the 2014 GMC Sierra they had at the time. That presented them with the next problem: Where would they find a vet on a Sunday morning? In the 20 years he owned the cabin, they never once needed a vet.

He looked up and pushed the red OnStar Emergency button.*

“I said, ‘We have a dog that's been attacked by a coyote, and we need to get to a vet,’” Larry says. “They said, ‘There's one about 25 minutes away’ and they sent directions.”

Two things happened next, each vitally important to the story’s happy ending. Larry still marvels at them both.

First, they missed a turn without realizing they had missed the turn. Their OnStar Advisor redirected them immediately.* Next, a physician’s assistant was connected to help administer whatever first aid they could to Snickers while they were on the road.

The situation was so emotionally charged, and OnStar’s people helped keep us calm.

Larry N.

The physician’s assistant asked where Snickers was injured. He was bleeding from the neck. “Apply pressure,” he said. “The situation was so emotionally charged,” Larry says, “and OnStar’s people helped keep us calm.” 

When they arrived, the vet and his assistant were waiting. They were updated by OnStar along the route and jumped to action as soon as the vehicle came to a stop.

In all, the coyote bit Snickers in six different places, but none of the injuries were life threatening. Snickers’ owner, Shelly, happened to call not long after they arrived in Clarksville. She jumped on the first flight she could find and was there to pick up Snickers when he was discharged two days later.

Without OnStar, Larry says he’s not sure what they would have done, but the outcome could have been different. Instead of using the time to drive, they probably would have stayed put at the cottage, calling around to find a vet. They wouldn’t have known what to do to help on the way to the vet, and it all could have been too late.

Over the years, he has turned to OnStar other times for assistance, but that’s the one that sticks with him. It was a few years ago now. Snickers is still doing great, and they have since sold the cottage, but Larry still gets choked up talking about that morning. The 2014 Sierra has been replaced by a 2021 GMC Sierra but OnStar is still on board.

“We all take things for granted,” Larry says. “We’re all in situations we're not familiar with, and it’s so great to have that peace of mind that comes with OnStar.”

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