I missed Tuesday’s blog; our house burned on Saturday night and I guess I was a little pre-occupied with trying to get life back to some sort of “normal”. By-the-way….I think “normal” is a long ways off. Here’s what happened…

My husband and I decided o take our grandson to dinner, kind of an extended birthday celebration with just the three of us. When we left the house, around 5:30, we decided to take Emma, my fifteen-year-old Aussie, and my puppy, Henry, with us. Since they had been locked in the house, while we had been at a movie, earlier that day, we thought they would appreciate a little trip into town. We also left our two “indoor” mini-pigs outside, which we never do at night. However, my husband had just built an outdoor pig house, instead of a dog house, complete with a heat lamp to keep them nice and warm. They had been enjoying this outdoor paradise for a couple of days, on and off, so we decided to just leave them out there. (Luke, our Great Pyrenees, was on patrol, so it’s not like anything could hurt them, right?) Well, we got to one of my favorite sushi spots, about seven miles from our house, ordered dinner, and were just about done, when my phone rang; it was my neighbor. I answered and she told me that my house was on fire and wanted to know how many of our dogs were in the house…

I can’t tell you the things that went through my mind within that ten minute drive home. I prayed harder than I have in a long long time…asking that our pets be saved…nothing else mattered as the rest was all replaceable…but my fur-babies. I’m not a highly “panicked” person, but I’ll tell you, I was borderline that night. I was thinking about the sticker that I had been sent, by one of our dog food companies. Have you seen those stickers that say, “If there is an emergency, please save my pets”, and then you list what pets the first responders are supposed to be looking for. Honestly, that sticker was on my table until the week before and I kept thinking, “maybe it would be a good idea to put that someplace, but where would I put it? The door, a window?”, I ended up not putting it anywhere, except in a pile on my office desk. I can’t even tell you the number of other things that were flying through my head.

We pulled up to our street to find about eight fire trucks, water tankers, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles on scene. The neighbor who called me had relayed to the firemen that we had three of our dogs and a cat in the house. They immediately found Payton, my husbands boarder collie, and passed her off to Linda, our neighbor, who also took our grandson with her while he waited for his mama to come and pick him up. After that, it was a waiting game. The more “stuff” the firemen kept pulling out of the house, the more frantic I was that they weren’t going to find the pets. I asked them several times if they would just let me stand in the front yard and yell for them as I was sure they would come running out at the sound of my voice. In retrospect, I highly doubt that they could have heard me over the numerous firemen, the water hoses, and the blazing fire.

The fire chief came out about five minutes later and said one of the dogs was out but he would go to anyone; it was Banjo, my middle daughters black and white boarder collie. He was frantic and was running around the front of the house. As soon as he heard us, he ran over and just laid down, hiding behind us as best he could. My oldest daughter had gotten there by this point to get her son so her boyfriend was able to get Banjo and take him to their car. It took another five minutes or so for them to find Ellie, the third boarder collie, and still another ten minutes for them to dig Esther, our cat, from the boxspring of our bed. All animals were saved and not a single one was injured, physically. For that, I am eternally grateful. The fire was put out and about half of our house was lost. It will be rebuilt.

The fire was caused by a short in the heat lamp that was in the pig house. (The pigs were unharmed as well.) I have used heat lamps all through my life for various animals, baby chicks, baby ducks, pigs, lambs, etc. There has never been a fire issue. The “short” was a fluke and will likely never happen again.

What I would do differently is: I would put that sticker on my front door. I am fortunate that my neighbor is a dog trainer so she is very familiar with our dogs and knows that we keep them in the house when we are gone. If she hadn’t been home or hadn’t seen the fire in time, who knows what could have happened. Having a sticker like that, on the front door, is now a priority. The second thing that I would do differently is that I would not have set the pig house so close to our house. We put it where we did because we wanted the pigs to be “sheltered” from any cold winds that may come up. Their house, alone, was probably shelter enough, I mean, isn’t that why we have dog houses and such, to shelter our pets from extreme weather? I am sure that I will come up with other future “changes”, as time goes on, but for now, those are my top two.

Less than a week after the fire, we are all doing well, relatively speaking. We are living in a dear friends motorhome, on our property, so that our fifty-plus animals don’t have to be moved or uprooted. They say it is going to take about six months for them to re-build our home. I’ll wait however long I have to; I am surrounded by four-legged-loves, and a husband,  who continue to bless my life with their unconditional love and loyalty. THAT is what matters most!

Many Blessings to you and your four-legged-loves ~ Tammy

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