“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Dr Seuss’s quote from his book Horton Hears a Who, may or may not have included Maltese poodles, but Boopsie, the beloved pet of Plumstead resident Heidi Northover, certainly made herself heard on Wednesday 18 December.Rudi Roux, the next-door neighbour, heard yelping coming from outside and went to investigate. “There are two walls – a garage and a vibracrete wall – built close together and the dog found its way in and got stuck. We tried to coax her out, but she wasn’t moving and she was getting quite tired and distressed.” Heidi says Boopsie has aimed for the gap in the past, but every time she called the Maltese poodle away. On the day of the incident, Heidi had been sitting on her stoep, calling for Boopsie, but she didn’t come. Heidi said she became worried and left to search the streets. But no luck. On her return home, a neighbour called her over to chat, but Heidi told the neighbour she couldn’t talk because she was looking for her dog.“At that moment, Boopsie picked up on my voice and began barking. Rudi then came to tell me she was trapped,” Heidi says.A short while later, the Constantia fire department pulled up in their red truck. The firemen managed to dig under the vibracrete wall and pulled Boopsie out. Altogether, Boopsie had been stuck for about an hour and a half.Heidi says this episode led to her giving her dog a second name: Whoopsie. “It was quite a mission. The firemen went out of their way to help,” she says.Although it has been a few weeks since the event, Heidi says her companion of 17 years is still not quite herself. “She was very traumatised after that.” However, Heidi says she was surprised to learn from a friend that Rescue Remedy can also be given to dogs. She has done so, and Heidi says it has helped. She says she is very grateful to the fire department for their assistance. Senior firefighter Mark Napier says it is a common misperception that firemen just fight fires. Napier, who is also a trained diver, says a fireman’s main role is to protect life and property. While their core function is fighting fires, they also specialise in all types of rescues, including human and animal rescue, vehicle extraction and water rescue.Napier, who has been a firefighter for 32 years, explains volunteer firefighters are trained to put out bushfires and veld fires. Permanently employed firefighters are trained to be multi-skilled. “Not to take anything away from volunteers. I started as a volunteer myself. We support them and they support us,” he says.There are various specialised rescue units stationed across the city. Depending on the type of rescue, these units are called out and work in conjunction with the NSRI, the police water wing, police and Metro rescue. For example, the fire department has teams specialised in trench rescue which are called out when diggers are trapped in collapsed pipelines.This level of expertise isn’t achieved overnight. Candidates first complete a 12-month course on all basic fire fighting procedures. Then there are speciality courses which firefighters can apply for as they become available. Napier says it can take between 10 and 15 years before a firefighter is selected to go on these specialised courses.