In Dorchester, Emmett Folgert is an institution.
He likes to say he belongs in one.
For nearly 40 years, he has been in the trenches, saving kids from the streets, from each other, from themselves. The Dorchester Youth Collaborative drop-in center he runs in Fields Corner is an oasis, a haven, a treasure, a necessity.
Five years ago, he learned he had cancer and vowed to beat it. He had a wonderful team at Harvard Vanguard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, not to mention something as powerful as chemo: Dancer, his Manchester terrier.
It was a rough couple of years. Every time he felt lousy, he’d look down at Dancer. She never wavered.
“She got me through it,” he says.
Folgert was cancer free and Dancer was 19 when she died three years ago.
“I gave myself six months to get over her,” he said.
He started looking for another dog, a shelter dog. He saves kids and so it makes sense he saves dogs, too. Six months after he lost Dancer, he found a dog that reminded him of her online, in a shelter in New Haven. It was a haul, more than two hours away, but it gave him an excuse to visit George Huynh, a Dorchester kid he helped get into Yale.
After seeing George, Folgert went to the shelter and met a skittish, emaciated mutt with some terrier in her. He took her home. Her name is Trixie.
A week after he brought Trixie back to Dorchester, Folgert got a call from the place where he had his colonoscopy. Dancer helped get him through prostate cancer. Now he needed Trixie to get him through colon cancer.
And of course, with the outstanding work of his medical team, that is just what happened. Never underestimate the power of modern science and a 4-year-old, 11-pound mutt.
Folgert and Trixie walk regularly in Dr. Loesch Family Park, and they were on their daily stroll last week when Folgert spied a group of four men sitting on a bench.
“Something didn’t look right,” Folgert said.
As he and Trixie drew closer, the men got up and started walking away. One of them was crying out, almost ecstatic. Then the guy wobbled, grabbed at a skinny tree, and pitched straight backward, landing with a thud.
Folgert knows an overdose when he sees one.
Two of the guy’s buddies bolted. The other one stayed behind.
Folgert pulled out his phone and called 911.
As Folgert and Trixie drew closer, the guy’s friend saw Folgert on the phone and, unprompted, yelled, “Don’t say he OD’d. They take longer. Say it’s a heart attack.”
By this time, the 911 dispatcher was on the line and a skeptical Folgert said into his phone, “His friend says it’s a heart attack. I just saw him go down.”
Folgert put the dispatcher on speaker and the dispatcher talked them through CPR. The guy’s friend put his hands on the guy’s chest and went through seven cycles of 30 compressions.
Seemingly all at once, EMS, Boston Fire, and Boston Police were on the scene.
“This is an OD,” Folgert told them.
The first responders nodded. This wasn’t their first rodeo.
They soon had a pulse and loaded the guy onto a stretcher.
Folgert noticed the guy’s stray white sneaker on the pathway. He went over, picked it up and handed it to the guy’s friend, who then went to the first responders who were wheeling his buddy to an ambulance.
“It’s all he has,” the guy’s buddy said, stuffing the sneaker under a strap on the stretcher.
Through it all, Trixie was a trouper. She resisted the urge to chase after the squirrels who normally preoccupy her during their walks in the park.
Like most responsible dog owners in the city, Emmett Folgert never leaves the house without doggy waste bags. But he plans to add something else to his routine.
“I’m going to start carrying Narcan,” he said.
Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.