When JR Nicholson, a rancher from Mason County,* started feeling dizzy, he told his ranch hand he wanted to go to the hospital. Little did the 85-year-old know that what turned out to be a minor visit to the ER would evolve into an absolutely heartwarming tale of pet loyalty for the ages.

Rather than wait patiently for Nicholson to return home, Buddy—Nicholson’s 35-pound Beagle mix with floppy ears—decided he needed to accompany his owner to the hospital. The appropriately named pooch “hitched a ride on the small side step” on the outside of the ambulance for about 20 miles before emergency technicians noticed him, reports the San-Angelo Standard-Times. The incident happened on October 26, but the story became national news last week, with everyone from Gawker to AP writing about the devoted Texas dog.

Understandably, both the Mason County EMS crew and the ranchers were somewhat incredulous, especially considering Nicholson’s ranch was almost an hour away from their destination, a hospital in Fredericksburg. Prior to heading to the hospital, ranch hand Brian Wright, who initially stayed behind at the ranch, had been unable to find Buddy, reports the Standard-Times: 

Wright said once he got to the hospital he was surprised when the EMS crew told him they had the dog.

“Two things go through your mind in a split second,” Wright said. “First, what could have happened to (Buddy), and second, you realize he is quite an animal.”

When the EMS crew realized Buddy had tagged along, “We didn’t have anything else to do but to load the dog up and put him in the ambulance and take him to the ER with us,” emergency technician Tanner Brown told the Standard-Times. 

Apparently, Buddy is quite the free spirit, frequently roving the ranch but never failing to return home to Nicholson. He also enjoys riding on the back of tractors, which may explain his aptitude for hanging onto moving vehicles for extended periods of time.   

What’s even more amazing is the deep bond that Nicholson and his dog (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say Buddy and his human) have formed in a short amount of time. Nicholson rescued Buddy from a Mason animal shelter just four months ago. “I had two dogs (before Buddy), but I had to put one of them down,” Nicholson told the Standard-Times. “He came along at just the right time.”

This is not the first time that Texas dogs have gone above and beyond for their owners. After Wayne Giroux, a lawnmower repairman from Lone Oak, was killed by a drunk driver in June 2011, his dog, Spot, took his post at the side of a country road every day, awaiting Giroux’s return for months after his death. And then there’s Texas dogs who are just loyal in general, like the Corpus Christi Labrador-Retriever mix (named Loyal, coincidentally) who stayed by the side of the road with another dog that had been hit by a car in late 2012.

This story is also reminiscent of one we wrote about in July, in which a Tyler family was reunited with their six-year-missing white Maltese, Reese (who eventually turned up in Tacoma, Washington with a new family). When they reunited at the airport in Houston, Reese excitedly bounded toward his original owners. There’s really nothing like feel-good dog stories to turn your day around.

As for Buddy and Nicholson, things seemed to have worked out well for everyone: Nicholson was released from the hospital the same day, and Buddy sustained no injuries from his precarious perch on the ambulance. To say the least, hopefully Buddy’s extraordinary commitment to his owner earned him some extra treats and belly rubs.

*Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Nicholson as being from San Angelo. We regret the error.