'Hero' dog saves family from burning home

June 22, 2009 at 3:03 PM

DELRAN, N.J., June 22 (UPI) -- A woman visiting her parents in New Jersey credited her 7-month-old dog with saving the lives of her family in a house fire.

Nicole Kowalewski, 29, said she had brought her young bulldog Riley back to her family's Delran home and she was awakened at 2 a.m. by the puppy's whimpering, the Burlington County (N.J.) Times reported Monday.

"I had him in the bed with me and he started whimpering and it's not like a bulldog. It's in their breed to just sleep and snore and cuddle, that's it," she said.

Kowalewski said she took Riley outside to try to calm him down, but he started barking after she brought him inside and circled the door leading to the garage.

"Something wasn't right so I opened the door and I saw the flames, like, shooting out of the walls. The door was fine, it was cool to the touch, but the (garage) wall was on fire," she said. "I woke up my parents, my sister and my nephews. I called 911 and they said to get everybody out of the house."

Kowalewski said Riley wasn't done rescuing his family.

"The dog jetted across the street," she said. "We all chased after him and within seconds there was a huge explosion and the window shot out, so it was almost him saying, 'I got you out of the house. Don't you get it? Get across the street!'"

"I'm just so proud of my puppy," she said. "I don't think I would have a family. My dog, he's my hero."

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