Charlie, a 2-year-old Australian labradoodle, rarely barks or whines, but his persistent barking on April 28 alerted his owners to a fire in their neighborhood in Clovis, California.
Dogs are known for being quite vocal, but Charlie is an exception to this norm. This unique canine rarely barks or whines, which is why when he does, it is bound to draw the attention of his owners. Recently, his unusual barking became a lifesaver when he alerted his owners to a fast-moving fire in their neighborhood in Clovis, California, on April 28, reports The Washington Post.
Chad McCollum and his wife heard the 2-year-old Australian labradoodle barking relentlessly around 2:45 am. on that day. He thought of taking the dog out to the yard thinking Charlie might have to relieve himself. However, that didn't happen and the canine became more relentless. McCollum said, "I was afraid he was going to wake the neighbors. I was a little frustrated."
Charlie refused to come back inside and was continuously barking looking towards one corner of the yard. "I walk over to the corner of the yard where he's barking and I see the plume of smoke up in the sky and kind of an orange glow," McCollum told PEOPLE.
He quickly escorted Charlie inside the house, put on his shoes and reached the place where the smoke was coming from. An RV was on fire and it was spreading to the adjacent houses. McCollum immediately called 911 and then knocked on the front doors of both houses, shouting for the residents to wake up. "I was running back and forth, just trying to bang on the doors. It’s starting to be a pretty big fire at this point," he recalled.
Within a matter of minutes, families emerged from their homes, just as emergency responders arrived at the scene. However, by that time, the flames had already grown to a height of approximately 20 feet. “The firefighters worked really quickly to put out the fire I was just in shock, as was everyone else,” McCollum added. He is a parent to two children, aged 10 and 13, who expressed their immense pride in Charlie and rewarded him with affectionate belly rubs and treats in the aftermath of the fire.
He believes that beyond companionship, "there's a reason we have pets in our lives." Canines are known to have a strong sense of smell and sound. Stephen Quick, whose house got damaged in the fire is thankful for Charlie's sharp senses which saved his family from the worse. He and his family along with their two golden retrievers were able to escape safely. “We 100 percent would not be alive today if it weren’t for Charlie,” said Quick, adding that none of the fire alarms went off as the fire was outdoors.
To express their gratitude, he and his sons presented Charlie with a basket filled with bones and treats.
Following an investigation, a 47-year-old man was arrested on May 3 for allegedly hurling several explosives at the RV parked beside Quick's home. He was charged with various charges like arson, child endangerment, stalking and possession of a destructive device. “This was not a random act. It was targeted,” said Ty Wood, a public information officer for the Clovis Police Department. To honor Charlie for saving lives, the Clovis Fire Department gave him a "junior firefighter" hat and a badge, and the neighbors made him a makeshift medal that reads "HERO."