It's a tale that happens in small towns, places where folks know each other's names and care about one another.
Outside a rural Petaluma-area home Tuesday, three animal-loving Rancho Adobe Fire Department firefighters rescued Carol Peek Griffin's 1-year-old cat, Bagheera, which had been stuck 50 feet up a redwood tree for six days.
It was the department's third attempt to retrieve the feline. The first time, Bagheera got scared and climbed higher in the tree, and the second, darkness curtailed rescue efforts.
But, as he promised, Capt. Larry Martinez and his crew returned Tuesday morning after handling other calls.
Firefighter Chris Foss climbed up the tree, while Engineer Ryan Rania assisted from below with the ladder and safety harnesses.
Foss, who grew up with cats and dogs, had the touch. And a bag of tuna.
"Oh, hi!" he cooed gently to Bagheera as he carefully climbed to within about 10 feet of the grey and white cat, about 40 feet up the tree. "Good to see you."
"Go slow," urged his captain, peering skyward from the base of the ladder. "No sudden movements. Get that tuna out."
"She's coming to me," Foss said. "Well, she made a move."
A bundle of nerves, Peek Griffin craned her neck, seeking a glimpse of her cat through the redwood limbs.
"Got her!" exclaimed Foss, nabbing Bagheera when she eased closer to check out the tuna.
Below, Peek Griffin clapped and hugged Martinez.
"You did it!" she exclaimed.
"I've got tears in my eyes," veteran fire captain Martinez admitted.
Peek Griffin said she felt a range of emotions at having her trouble-making kitty back: "good, great, embarrassed."
She said an ex-firefighter friend suggested she call Rancho Adobe for help when Bagheera didn't come down herself.
"That was so valiant," Peek Griffin said, thanking the firefighters with a bag of brownies and cookies to take back to the firehouse.
Martinez and Foss said it was all in a day's work. Last week, the department rescued a Penngrove horse whose rear legs got stuck in a caved-in septic tank.
"It's what we do," Foss said.
"If we can help, we help. A life is a life," said Martinez, who has four dogs at home and has had cats his whole life.
Bagheera later rejoined the other household pets, Scar the cat and Mack the dog, for a quiet afternoon inside.
Moved by the ordeal, Peek Griffin said she may look for a new, safer home for Bagheera. Foss said he'd consider taking her, but he had to check at home first.
Victims identified in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino fires
Karen Aycock, 56, Santa Rosa
Christina Hanson, 27, Santa Rosa
Linda Tunis, 69, Santa Rosa
Carol Collins-Swasey, 76, Santa Rosa
Lynne Anderson Powell, 72, Santa Rosa
Arthur Tasman Grant, 95, Santa Rosa
Suiko Grant, 75, Santa Rosa
Donna Mae Halbur, 80, Larkfield
Leroy Peter Halbur, 80, Larkfield
Valerie Lynn Evans, 75, Santa Rosa
Carmen Caldentey Berriz, 75, Apple Valley (vacationing in Santa Rosa)
Michael John Dornbach, 57, rural Calistoga
Veronica Elizabeth McCombs, 67, Santa Rosa
Carmen Colleen McReynolds, 82, Santa Rosa
Sharon Rae Robinson, 79, Santa Rosa
Mike Grabow, 40, Santa Rosa
Daniel Martin Southard, 71, Santa Rosa
Lee Chadwick Roger, 72, Glen Ellen
Roy Howard Bowman, 87, Redwood Valley
Irma Elsie Bowman, 88, Redwood Valley
Kai Logan Shepherd, 14, Redwood Valley
George Chaney, 89, Napa
Edward Stone, 79, Napa
Charles Rippey, 100, Napa
Sara Rippey, 98, Napa
Sally Lewis, 90, Napa
Teresa Santos, 50, Napa
Garrett Paiz, 38, Missouri