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Dachshund Saves Family From Fire

This story about a dachshund comes to America Comes Alive via Joan Wester Anderson, a bestselling author who read that I was writing a series about American dogs.  Anderson has written numerous books, most notably Where Miracles Happen.  In the process of collecting her stories for her various works, she started hearing about animals who have protected or rescued their families as well as some who have helped complete strangers.  I’ve chosen one to share with you but there are many more in her book Angelic Tales: True Stories of Heavenly Canines.

This story takes place in Kennewick, Washington when two friends, Colt Urquhart and his friend Josh went off for a day of fishing.  The two men were wading knee-deep in water along the shore line of a lake when one of them spotted something struggling along in the water.  Colt reached into the water and scooped up what turned out to be a very worn out dachshund puppy. The puppy was shivering, so Colt tucked it inside his shirt, and then the two men ventured over to an area where there were picnickers to see if someone had lost a dog.

No one had, so Colt took the puppy home to his family. Wife Diane and the three children fell in love with the puppy, naming him JoJo.  They came to know the meanings of all of JoJo’s various ear positions: a “perky droop” was what he used when he was happy. If he was hungry, he somehow wrinkled the top of his head so that his ears pulled up from the base, making it seem like they were gathered atop his head.  If JoJo got in trouble, he fanned out his ears in an expression the family referred to as “elephant ears.”

JoJo picked as his roommate daughter Kalen, but he didn’t fully go to sleep until everyone else was in bed.  If Colt and Diane were still in the living room, JoJo would come out periodically to check on them as if to say, “Time to go to bed.”

One night in February 2010, JoJo seemed agitated. He and Kalen had gone to bed and Colt and Diane were finishing a movie.  JoJo came out once and seemed uncomfortable but he had already been outside so Diane reassured him and told him to go back to bed.  JoJo obeyed but came right out again…wandering back and forth and seeming concerned.

Colt and Diane decided they had better check on Kalen. When they entered the room, JoJo was on her bed, shoving his nose against her to wake her up.  Diane then noticed a faint burning smell; she touched the wall near the head of Kalen’s bed; it was hot.  While Colt pulled out the clock and lamp that were plugged into the wall, Diane grabbed Kalen and immediately called 911.  Colt woke the other children and saw that the entire family–and JoJo–got out of their home.

It was a cold night, and they waited in the car until firefighters arrived and went with Colt to disconnect the power.  Though there had been no smoke and no flames, they said that the wiring was only moments away from catching fire.  Had JoJo not been alert to a problem, Kalen and perhaps other family members would have been caught by the fire.

For more stories like this one, check out Angelic Tails: True Stories of Heavenly Canine Companions (Loyola Press 2011).

And if you have experienced a surprising story with one of your pets, please post it or write to me: [email protected]

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