Dog Branded 'True Hero' After Alerting Owners to a Fire

A dog has captured hearts online after her owner shared how the pet alerted her family about a neighborhood fire, leading to her being called a "true hero" by internet users.

Originally from the Oregon Dog Rescue shelter, 9-month-old Rae is a mix of Rhodesian ridgeback, black mouth cur, pit bull, labrador, bloodhound and sha-pei who lives in Oregon with her owners, Laura Watkins and her husband.

On a quiet evening at home, the pup made her owners aware of the blaze near their home. With more than 44,000 upvotes and hundreds of comments, the story has gained a lot of love online.

According to the latest information from the National Centers for Environmental Information, 5,300 fires burned over 1 million acres of land in July, contributing to over 145.6 acres of burned land between January and July 2022—the second largest amount of land burnt by wildfires on record.

Fire and dog that warned owners
A wildfire in Laura Watkins' Oregon neighborhood. Her dog Rae, right, alerted her owners to the danger. Laura Watkins

Watkins told Newsweek: "We were at home watching TV Sunday night when Rae started barking at the door. Recreational barking is one of her hobbies, so we just told her to be quiet, but she wouldn't stop, so my husband got up and went to the door, thinking there might be kids messing around outside.

"As he opened the door, he remarked that it must be raining because it sounded like a downpour outside. Followed by a peek at the yard and 'Holy s*** there's a fire!'" Watkins said.

Upon seeing the fire, her husband ran outside to spray the side of the house with a garden hose so it wouldn't catch fire. Fortunately, all of the neighbors also saw the flames, and the fire department was there within minutes.

"They put the fire out quickly, before it reached the trees, so the only damage was some burned landscaping and a broken latch on our gate," Watkins said.

Although nobody was hurt and there was no damage, the owners were thrilled that their dog had warned them about the fire.

Watkins said, "We have several days of celebration planned for Rae. Today, I'm taking her to the coffee shop for a pup cup, then to the beach for a play day, followed by lunch at a pub. French fries are her favorite treat, and she likes to go to restaurant patios and sit under the table waiting for her share."

Watkins continued: "Later in the week, we'll make her some pancakes and take her to her puppy play group to hang out with her friends. She's already had lots of treats, and we apologized to her for not listening when she first tried to warn us."

"Now that is what I call a true hero," said a commenter on the now-viral Reddit post: "Truly the best girl ever."

Another Redditor wrote: "That's no good girl, that there is bestest girl," while one commenter said: "Please tell Rae that she is the best of the best dogs and give her ear scratches. She is an amazing guardian angel."

Residents are still unsure what caused the fire. "The investigator said it could have been a tossed cigarette or maybe kids playing with fireworks," Watkins said. "But my blood freezes when I think about how much worse it could have been. If the fire had started two hours earlier, Rae would have been home alone, and an hour later we would all have been asleep. We were very, very lucky."

Other viewers of the viral story were prompted to share their own pet's antics, pointing out that Rae truly was something special.

One Redditor said: "Yesterday my dog escaped, ran to his friend's house at the end of the block, and stole a burger from their picnic," while another commenter joked: "My dog saves us each and every day by barking to alert us of scary mailmen and suspicious joggers."

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Update 8/16/22, 9:25 a.m. ET: This story was updated with a new photo and additional comments from Laura Watkins.