Blind World Magazine

Pup risks all to save his master.

January 20, 2006.
The Sudbury Star.

Michael Winegarden and Klondike are inseparable. Not even a burning home could keep them apart.

The seeing eye dog jumped into disaster to try and save his owner early Thursday morning. Blind and hearing impaired, Michael smelled smoke immediately in his Val Caron home. He went into the kitchen to ask whether his wife, Bobbie, who was making breakfast, had burned something.

Bobbie followed the scent to the stairs leading to the basement.

"I could see flames at the bottom of the stairs," she said.

Without hesitation, she rushed upstairs to get her children Glen, 9, and Ken, 6, out of bed while Michael called 911 from a phone in the living room.

Bobbie and the children escaped through the back door, with Klondike close by. Once outside, Klondike must have noticed his owner was not with the family.

"He was with me but ripped out of my grasp," said Bobbie.

The chocolate lab dashed back inside to get Michael, the family believes.

By that time, smoke began to fill upstairs rooms including the living room, where Michael was.

"I was sure they were out of the house so I turned to get my wallet in the kitchen but I couldn't. It was too hot," said Michael.

He then "wrestled around" with the living room window until it opened. Michael pushed open the screen and somersaulted outside.

"I started yelling for my family and they came around to get me," he said.

By then, Greater Sudbury firefighters were on the scene. The family waited for Klondike to exit the home. He didn't.

Firefighters ran into the home and found the dog unconscious on the living room floor. They carried him outside and immediately gave him oxygen.

"I thought he was dead," said Michael, who refused to get into an ambulance until he knew his dog's fate.

Firefighters revived the dog and Klondike was taken to a veterinarian and released. By the afternoon, he started coughing and as a precaution, his family drove him to the veterinarian again. Although he spent the night under observation, Klondike is expected to make a full recovery.

The family bought the seeing eye dog from New Jersey a year ago. Klondike will turn three Feb. 3.

No one else was injured in the fire.

The blaze caused about $150,000 in damage, said platoon chief Jacques Rancourt of the Greater Sudbury Fire Department.

The basement sustained extensive fire damage and heat and smoke destroyed the rest of the home.

Rancourt was still on the scene late Thursday afternoon, unable to determine a cause for the fire. He called in the Ontario Fire Marshall to investigate.

End of article.

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