— -- A golden retriever that was rescued a year ago from starvation in a city park returned the favor to the family by waking them up and alerting them to a downstairs fire.
The dog, Teddy, usually stayed downstairs, but the pooch went upstairs at 2:30 a.m. Monday and woke up Kelly Sewert in her Livonia, N.Y., home. Realizing that something was wrong if Teddy was upstairs, she smelled smoke and woke her fiance, William Vanzandt who ran downstairs to find the living room ceiling engulfed in flames. The two grabbed their two boys and the dog and ran outside the house.
"Five to ten minutes later, it was a ball of flames," said Vanzandt. "We just got out of there on time."
The blaze was caused when flames in a fireplace left burning melted through the mortar filling between the bricks, Vanzandt said the fire investigator told him.
Vanzandt said he and Sewert were looking after Teddy for his mother who dropped off the dog Sunday night before heading on a trip out of the country.
Vanzandt said his mother adopted the dog last year when it was found abandoned in a state park. "He wasn't in as good shape as he is now," said Vanzandt. "He was skin and bones when she got him."
Vanzandt said the damage from the fire was "total loss," and that the house is "not fixable," and will eventually be knocked down.
"We lost all contents of the house," he said. "It's all been destroyed."
But he is thankful that no one was hurt and that Teddy was there to warn them. "He's a God send."
Vanzandt and Sewert are currently staying in his mother's house until they can find a new home.