Guardian angels: Man's best friend saves woman from fire

By CHARLES BOOTHE, Bluefield Daily Telegraph
IAEGER, W.Va. (AP) — On the night of Feb. 12, Sheila Trent Poole of Iaeger fell asleep on the couch in the living room of a house she shares with her mother on Rt. 52.
At around 6 a.m. the next morning she heard the barks of her three dogs, but drifted back to sleep, not thinking anything was out of the ordinary.
But at some point after that, she was awakened again by not only the barking, but “Poochie,” her beagle, was licking her face, and he would not stop.
That is when she saw a sight that terrified her.
“I woke up and saw fire right at my feet,” she said. “The flames were only about 4 feet away.”
Poole said she quickly left the couch and could only think about trying to put out the fire, which had by then covered the front part of the living room.
“I started getting water to pour on it,” she said, adding that she should have called 911. “But you are confused and lost. You don’t know which way to go. I even had a fire extinguisher that I didn’t think about.”
She also at some point heard banging on the door and quickly opened it to see Tony Roberts, a fellow church member, who had been driving by and saw the fire and smoke.
“I didn’t want to leave and I told him I would have to save my mother’s house,” she said. “He started helping out (as well as calling 911), but we got out because the smoke was all in the house and I am a retired nurse, so I knew it was time to get out.”
Poole said she had already opened the door to get the dogs out before she and Roberts left.
The fire, which the fire department told her was an electrical fire that started in the wall of the living room, was put out before it destroyed the house.
“The front of the living room and some furniture was ruined,” she said. “But the smoke and soot was all throughout the house so we can’t move back in until it’s cleaned up.”
But the most important thing, she said, was that she and her dogs survived, with two of the dogs sustaining some minor smoke inhalation problems.
“My mother was in Bluefield staying with my sister,” she said. “She was not here and she has health problems, so her being gone was good.”
Since she had no place to take the dogs, the Green Valley Animal Hospital took them in to treat them and make sure they were OK as well as give them a place to stay until Poole and her mother were temporarily relocated.
They eventually found an apartment on Old Bramwell Road to stay until their house is ready, and to stay as close to the dogs as possible.
On Saturday morning, she went to Green Valley and picked them up: Poochie as well as Boomer, a shih tzu who had the most smoke in his lungs, and Duke, a “mutt.”
Poochie also had inhaled some smoke too, she said, but not as much as Boomer.
“I have to keep Boomer sedated,” she said, explaining he was still being hyper and too excited. “It really messed him up.”
The other two are a little “ill-tempered,” she said, and Duke “got depressed.”
Poole, 56, moved back to this area two years ago, but never thought she would go through such an ordeal.
“If it wasn’t for my babies, I wouldn’t be here right now,” she said. “They are my angels. It’s not something you ever want to go through. A firefighter told me how lucky I was.”
She said she knew Poochie would have licked her face until she woke up.
Poole said she has some advice for people, especially those who have parents who live alone.
“Get your mom and dad a dog to stay with them,” she said. “If something goes wrong, dogs are smart. They know and they will do something.”
Where the dogs come from does not matter, she said, explaining that Poochie and Duke are rescue dogs. Poochie, who she has had for four years, was hit by a car last year and took a while to recover. Duke was rescued from a coal mine and belongs to her mother. Poole has had Boomer since he was a baby.
They all have that instinct to know if there is danger, just as her dogs did, she said, and just as Poochie did when he kept licking her face until she woke up.
“My dogs are my heroes,” she said.
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Information from: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, http://www.bdtonline.com