By Maria Medina

MODESTO (CBS13) — Rich Armstrong and his service dog were crossing a Modesto theater parking lot about a week ago when a pickup truck barreled toward them, hit them and tossed them both about 30 feet.

Emma, half yellow lab and half golden retriever, is trained to never leave her owner’s side, but sensing Armstrong, who is paralyzed from the waist down, was in trouble, she did an amazing thing.

As Armstrong lay on the ground helpless in front of the Regal Cinemas 10 in Modesto, parts of his wheelchair crushed, Emma got up and ran to the side of the theater. Emma somehow found her way inside, and among the crowd of people buying popcorn and drinks, she found Armstrong’s wife.

“She ran up to her and gave her the leash and tugged her and pulled her all the way out here to me,” Armstrong said when recounting the incident on Monday.

Armstrong has had Emma for about 8 months and hopes to have her for years to come.

“I can’t live without her she can’t live without me,” he said.
Despite being thrown about 30 feet, Emma and her owner escaped serious injury.

Comments (20)
  1. Allison says:

    That is such a wonderful story. I am so glad the man and his dog are ok. I hope they catch the person in the truck!

  2. bri says:

    Yes I hope they catch this jerk in the truck too. He’s a lucky man to have a dog like that

    1. Bob says:

      I don’t think you understand what Karma is. There is no karma coming full circle in this story.

      1. Bob says:

        Obviously my comment was meant for Mace – below.

  3. Mace says:

    O M G, what a cruel thing to do…KARMA comes full circle

  4. Mary says:

    What a wonderful dog! What most people don’t realize is that this is one of the reasons handicapped parking spaces are close to a building – for safety purposes. People in wheelchairs are not as visible and travelling through a parking lot is dangerous.

  5. layla says:

    This dog has more love and intelligent then the brainless so called human in the truck that almost killed them. i am so glad that the man and dog are ok

  6. Joe says:

    The driver didn’t leave and does not need to “be caught”. Disgusting that they didn’t charge the moron with anything. The idiot has no business driving.

  7. Lisa says:

    Awesome story! I am on the CCI waiting list for a service dog and stories like this make the waiting so difficult!

  8. Barbara O'Flaherty-Monsma says:

    CItations CAN be and ARE issued on PRIVATE PROPERTY!!! Example: If someone parks in a handicapped parking space without the legal right/ placard to do so…….they will be cited (fined)…….so……I think that whoever stated that the driver wasn’t cited because this accident/violation happened on private property is mistaken. Private property/roads that have public access are subject to laws that apply to public roads. Are parking lots NOT roads of a sort? What an outcome……I was at RIch and Emma’s graduation……(I’m a volunteer puppy raiser for CCI) and it was apparent then, though they’d only been together for just under two weeks, that they had a very special bond. I got flipped off yesterday for shouting to a woman who was barreling through a parking lot, to slow down, Karma….I’m ever hopeful that it truly exists….Happy to see that RIch and Emma, while certainly sore and bruised……are doing okay and able to tell/show their story…..

  9. Simonne Walvisch says:

    What a story ! I still have tears in my eyes. Unbelievable what a bond.

    I just read the book Until Tuesday. That story got straight in my soul and under my skin and since then never let go. It’s about Luis Carlos Montelvan and his service dog Tuesday. A wounded warrior and the service dog who saved him.
    Please look at his website

    I don’t know Luis Carlos Montelvan except by his facebook page. I’m from The Netherlands – Europe and may only hope that the world will read his book and become as enchanted by it as I am.

  10. Kathy says:

    Heartwarming story. So glad that Rich & Emma are OK.. Want to hear more about the 4 legged heros that Canine Companions for Independence provides? Come to our local car show fundraiser Zoom Zoom Woof Woof this Saturday in El Dorado Hills at the Town Center. There is a great need for these dogs as Lisa above is on the waiting list. CCI is a non-profit organization funded by donors and fundraisers. Come help support this great organization, see our amazing service dogs & puppies while you enjoy beautiful cars in a beautiful setting. For more info visit:

  11. Jack says:

    I’m glad they are both ok and its a great short story making out the dog to be a hero. Very inspiring!. Its just a shame its actually embellished media. Guess i forgot how often the facts remain elusive.

  12. Gail says:

    Actually embellished media? Were you there? When I heard this had happened to our good friend and Emma, I was so shocked and saddened. To see our friend, Rich, lying there on the pavement, upset me so much! I’m just thankful both Rich and Emma are not hurt badly, even tho Emma spent several days in the hospital and Rich is dealing with an old, fairly unsafe wheelchair. I know Emma and though everyone is amazed at her reaction, I’m really not surprised. She loves her family so very much! Emma, plan to get even more treats from me next time I see you!!!

  13. Jack says:

    Dont get me wrong i feel bad about him. Noone should have to go through that it was awful and looked awful when i saw it because Yes i was a patron at the theatre as well on saturday evening. I heard it and saw it. He was not thrown 30 ft he was under the front end of the pickup. It was lifted which prevented serious injury but damaged the chair. Dog never left him and was not injured. Not to mention the security guard was about 20 ft from the accident when it occured so he was there instantly and called in the 911 call I am sure. I wouldn’t blame him i blame poor media. I’m in no way saying he embellished his story but the is was either blatant manipulation by media for a story or they do not fact check anymore.

    1. tonysprout says:

      If you saw the miracles these dogs perform, you wouldn’t be posting this, regardless of what truth you know. Truth is relative to the observer; perhaps you’re not so observant?

    2. Rich Armstrong says:

      Jack is crazy – I have many pictures taken at the sight and Jack is WACKO.

  14. Wendy Klock-Johnson says:

    Emma was trained and provided to Rick by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Join the local volunteer chapter of CCI today in El Dorado Hills at the 3rd Annual Zoom Zoom Woof Woof fundraiser for CCI! find out more at

  15. tonysprout says:

    I’m a volunteer puppy raiser for CCI. I have seen the miracles these dogs perform for their owners. What this dog did is amazing. They are NOT trained to do that. Way to go EMMA!