A man revealed how his beloved dog saved his life by barking to wake him up when his house caught fire in a tragic accident that claimed the life of the heroic dog.
In December 2019, photographer Cole Finney, 27, of Los Angeles, California, was sleeping soundly when he heard his pet dog, Bowie, bark loudly.
Cole opened his eyes and noticed that his room was cloudy; there was a thin layer of smoke in the air. He was alone in his rented shared house where he had moved less than a week before.
Heartbreak: 27-year-old Cole Finney reveals how his beloved dog Bowie perished in a house fire after saving his owner’s life
Terrifying: Los Angeles-based photographer almost died in fire, which was started by oven that caught fire while sleeping
No smoke alarm had gone off; the only alarm that went off was the sound of his barking wheat terrier dog. So he got up and put his hand on the door, which was not hot.
But when he opened it, a thick cloud of black smoke immediately struck him in the face and quickly filled his room.
Despite his difficulty seeing and breathing because of the smoke that filled his lungs, he knew he had to find a way out of the house. However, when he went to the window and opened the curtains, he noticed that the window was blocked by thick metal bars fixed by large screws. He was stuck.
The smoke was so thick that he couldn’t see anything, including his own hands, but he knew he had to get out of the house.
So he walked cautiously through the house to the front door, but as soon as he came in contact with the door handle, a huge blaze burst from the ground and engulfed the door, flames instantly surrounding it. .
His hands, arms, legs and chest melted under the heat of the fire from an oven installed before he moved into which he caught fire. As he watched in horror as the fire engulfed his body, it was then that he thought he was going to die.
He started to panic, feeling his way into the house to get out of the property.
It was then that Cole felt something break while crossing it; it was a glass window. Smoke escaped through the cracked window hole and Cole bravely broke the rest of the window as he came out and jumped 10 feet to the ground, miraculously landing on his feet.
He opened the back door and shouted Bowie’s name over and over, but he heard nothing and saw no movement. He ran into the street as the fire trucks entered and watched his house explode again in flames.
He was rushed to hospital, where he was immediately sedated and intubated.
Since he had inhaled a lot of smoke and was having trouble breathing on his own, a tube was placed in his lungs to help him breathe.
Gone: the brave puppy Bowie started barking on Cole so he woke up and escaped the fire, but he got trapped with metal bars through his windows
Hero: If the sweet dog hadn’t woken up Cole, he probably would have died in the fire too
The doctors then told him that Bowie had died in the fire and that the news had left him inconsolable for days.
“I moved into a new house for rent in December 2019. Less than a week later, the building’s old oven caught fire while I was sleeping,” said Cole.
“My dog, Bowie, barked. Not his usual soft bark to let me know that the mail was there or that a roommate was preparing breakfast. The barking was noisy.
“I opened my eyes to see that my room was cloudy; a very thin layer of smoke was suspended in the air, small enough to come from burnt popcorn or a smoldering fire in a chimney.
“No one was screaming. No alarm was sounded. And so, I was not alarmed either. I should have been.
“Bowie continued to bark. I got up and put my hand on the door. It was not hot. I turned the handle and opened the door. Immediately, a huge torrential plume of smoke hit me in the face.
“The darkest and most foul-smelling smoke invaded my room instantly. I couldn’t breathe. I could barely see. I knew right away that if I didn’t leave in a few minutes or even a few seconds, I would pass out from smoke inhalation and die right there in this house.
“ I stirred the emergency of a dying animal and connected to something I couldn’t see. It broke. Glass. A window.
“To escape, I jumped out of a second-story window and waited almost ten minutes for the paramedics to arrive, because the firefighters were obstructing the small street in which I lived.
“I opened the back door, my hand burning with pain and I called my dog’s name over and over. I couldn’t see through the smoke.
“I couldn’t make out the slightest outline of the walls or furniture through the back door. No answers. No bark. No movement.
Loss: Cole lost $ 25,000 of his property in the fire, but says Bowie’s death was the most heartbreaking loss of all
Fear: “ I knew that if I didn’t leave in a few minutes, or even a few seconds, I would pass out from smoke inhalation and die right there in this house, ” remembers Cole
“Ten minutes become forever when you suffer so much. I was rushed to the hospital and immediately sedated so that they could intubate me.
“The adaptation was very difficult. Being in the hospital for more than two weeks was difficult. The pain was incredibly intense. When I learned that my dog had died in the fire, I was inconsolable for days.
Cole admits that if it wasn’t for hearing Bowie bark, he would never have known that his house was on fire and credits his faithful best friend for having saved his life.
He says Bowie had always been well trained and would even take him walking without his leash.
With the help of his parents, he got the help he needed to recover, but he had to quit his job due to his severely burned hands. After all he went through with his ordeal, the most painful part was losing his dog and best friend, Bowie, who he said saved his life.
“I raised him from birth; he and I were as close as a dog and a human could be. He slept in my bed every night, he always followed me, always close to me, always wanting to play, ” he said.
“ He was an extremely intelligent dog and listened to everything I said, I could even walk him without a leash because he was so well trained.
“He was there for me when I was most lonely, a constant companion who loved me more unconditionally than any human.
“Although he died, his last act saved my life and it was something that helped me stay positive and thankful during this difficult experience.
“ Now all my wounds are finally closed and red scars remain from what used to be deep open wounds. The pain has subsided and I can finally resume a “normal” life for the most part.
“Although I have recovered physically and mentally, I still suffer from episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Agony: Cole had to spend two weeks in hospital receiving care for his burns and cuts, after stepping through a window to escape the fire
Scars: “Being in the hospital for more than two weeks was difficult. The pain was incredibly intense, ” he recalls of his recovery.
Upset: Although Cole’s injuries were dying, he said he had been inconsolable for days when he learned that Bowie was dead
“I will relive the experience in my dreams from time to time, and when I wake up, my body will go into” combat or flight mode “as if I were in the fire and my adrenaline was increasing. If I smell smoke that reminds me of fire, I will have a panic attack.
“My parents have always been my love and support stone throughout my life and were there for me after the incident. I stayed with them while I healed and continued to take control of my life.
“I lost all of my property in the fire. Because I had just moved in, I did not have time to purchase tenant insurance before this happened. If I had to estimate, I lost at least $ 25,000 in personal belongings that I had just moved in a few days earlier.
“Nor have I been able to work in the past three months because my hands still needed time to heal. I hope I can get back to work soon.
“But apart from the money, this incident actually changed my mind considerably. As we go through life and manage our daily activities and tasks, we take many things for granted.
“We are so mired in daily stress that we sometimes forget to appreciate what it means to live.
“ When I saw the sunset after leaving the hospital, I cried how beautiful it was. It is ironic that in the tragedy we see the beauty of the world more clearly.
“The pain was immense and the financial difficulties were difficult, but the hardest part will be losing my dog forever.
“The pain goes away, the scars heal, new jobs can be found, things can be replaced. He will never be replaced and that was the hardest thing to accept.
“Be thankful that you are still alive. It was hard at first; the feeling that my life is forever altered by scars, stillness or pain and will never be the same again.
“But I realized that despite the tragic nature of this incident, despite the pain I endured and the hardships I endured, I survived when I should have had absolutely nothing to do with it. I’m so lucky to still be here, to still be able to discover what life has to offer.