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Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Stray Dog Saves Family from Fire, Owners Recognize Him from Viral Post

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Earlier this year, a medium-sized dog wandered in the heart and yard of Charity Golloway of Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

He was friendly and made it clear that he wanted to stay, so he was dubbed “Butter” and given a dog house near the front of the Golloway home.

“This dog has been up on our hill for the past few days,” Golloway posted on Facebook on May 27. “[H]e is super nice and gentle … has a collar on but have no idea where he came from.”

“[I]f anybody knows anyone missing a dog or knows who he may belong to please message me !!! Thanks !!”

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But no one responded, and Butter stayed.

Then, sometime after 2:00 a.m. on Thursday morning, Golloway was alerted by Butter’s loud barking outside her window. That wasn’t like him, and she got up to see a fire blazing at the front of the house.

“He knew something wasn’t right and that someone needed to know,” Golloway told WJHL-TV. “He’s a smart dog.”

Apparently, a heat lamp that had been in Butter’s shelter had started a fire, and the fire quickly consumed the dog house and began to threaten Golloway’s home, melting the vinyl siding and shattering a window.

“The flames just got big really fast,” Golloway said. “It’s overwhelming actually how fast it happened.”

Butter was a better alert than the fire alarms, which hadn’t gone off yet, and Golloway’s son was able to quickly extinguish the flames with a garden hose.

The Valley Volunteer Fire Department showed up after the fire had already been put out, and were greeted by the good boy who’d warned the family about the impending disaster.

“It was a really, really nice dog,” firefighter Justin Stidham said of Butter. “It came up and played with all of us, and in that picture I was sitting there petting it, and it was, it was just nice as it could be.

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“If wasn’t for that dog, that house would’ve been lit up all throughout the ceiling, and we would’ve been there for hours fighting that house.”

A photo of Butter with the firefighters and his heroic story circulated on social media, and soon Golloway had a new problem on her hands: His previous owners recognized him, and reached out to get him back after he’d gone missing all summer.

Golloway knows it’s right for Butter (whose name is actually Cooper) to go back to his original owners, but it won’t be easy — especially since he’s a hero in her eyes.

“Well he’s going to have to be leaving us and that makes me want to cry, but I’m happy for him, you know,” Golloway said. “But we will be staying in touch.”

She promised to get him a nice steak first, though, and hopes to be able to stay in touch with him and his family.

“If it wasn’t for him, who knows what could’ve happened,” she said. “I mean, it could’ve been way worse. I’m really grateful for that stray dog that wandered up into my yard.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking