Though they may be unable to take themselves on walks or refill their own food bowls, dogs are far from unintelligent creatures. In fact, like many animals, their intuition that something is wrong or even dangerous is usually spot-on and realized long before their human counterparts.
It’s the same reason that these furry creatures are often utilized in a variety of situations where their sharp awareness is needed. For instance, most service animals out there tend to be dogs who are specifically trained to look for certain signals and symptoms in their owners and then respond appropriately. For Leanne Schmidt and her border collie, Barney, her dog’s instinctual awareness didn’t just stop her from walking into a possibly dangerous situation—it saved her life too.
On the night of September 15, New Zealand resident, Leanne Schmidt, had long retired to bed by the time 1 a.m. rolled around. It was only when she was woken up by her dog, Barney, scratching at the door that she became confused.
Though Barney was often a more anxious and fearful dog than most, he only ever clawed at the door during thunderstorms–which was definitely not the case on this cloudless September evening. In fact, Barney didn’t just seem anxious—he seemed downright panicked and terrified. Recognizing that her dog seemed far too frightened to just be bored, Schmidt decided to do some further investigating.
“He was in full panic mode, he was quite convinced he was in mortal danger,” she said.
After getting out of bed to find the source of Barney’s whining, she realized the problem almost immediately as her eyes caught a red glow from outside.
One of the neighboring houses was on fire, and it appeared that nobody had noticed yet. It was over 800 feet away, but somehow Barney had intuited it.
As quickly as possible, Schmidt called emergency services, who sent over the Havelock Volunteer Fire Brigades for help before she took on the task of warning the other neighbors of the danger as well.
Luckily, both Schmidt and other nearby residents were able to stop the fire from spreading any further until the firefighters showed up. The crazy part is, had it not been for Barney’s intuition and good instincts that something was terribly amiss, Schmidt and several other families could have slept through the entire event. By the time they did wake up, the growing flames could’ve dispersed to their own homes and left them no chance to escape in time—or seriously injured from smoke inhalation.
“The house was gone by that stage, it was just a pile of rubble burning,” Schmidt said.
As mentioned before, Barney the border collie isn’t the only dog whose instincts have stopped a potential tragedy from happening.
In Iowa, a similar situation unfolded—Angela Fulmer got woken up in the middle of the night by her dog, Capone, to realize that her kitchen had been set aflame by an electrical fire.
Another example was in Woodsville, Florida when a chihuahua named Chewbarka—a fitting name, it seems—woke up his family. At first, they assumed he was barking at another animal, but soon discovered that he was actually trying to warn them about the fire that had begun on the back porch instead.
In all of these cases, including Leanne’s, there were no injuries or deaths that resulted from these fires, despite the extremely high potential for there to be.
Schmidt was proud of Barney’s heroism, but also a bit surprised. Normally, she said, he is known for being a glutton and loves food most of all, but this time he did something very impressive.
Jokingly, she added, “I’ve asked him for more warning next time.”
Clearly, Leanne Schmidt’s experience with her dog’s intuition and instincts were not an isolated event, but merely one example of several touching stories that had a happy ending because of an animal. The most interesting part of all of this is that each of these pets’ responses was not trained, but just instinct. Schmidt had never trained Barney to understand that fire was dangerous, but somehow he was still able to recognize not only this but also the fact that the person he loved most in the world, his owner, could be in trouble too. Sure, dogs may spend most of their time slobbering on you and wanting to play, but when you do need them, they’re always ready to answer the call. Barney, Capone, and Chewbarka are only a few examples of the lives saved by an animal, and they certainly won’t be the last either.