NEWARK, AR (KAIT) – A Newark woman says she owes her life to her dog after he saved her from a fire last week.
Last Wednesday morning, Twila Schwab tried to quiet her dog Buster, a five-year-old Maltese and Shih Tzu mix. The dog would not let her sleep, and if he had stopped trying to alert her, she may not have made it out of her house alive.
The house that took nine years for Schwab and her husband to make into their home now lays in ruin. An electrical fire took almost everything they had last week, but Schwab walked away unharmed because of her persistent pet.
"If you would've asked me before, I couldn't have told you I could love him any more," Schwab said about Buster, "but every day, every moment I spend with him is so precious. It's always been precious to me, but there's something different about it now."
Schwab went to sleep early last Tuesday evening. A few hours later, she thought Buster needed to go outside when he woke her a little after midnight.
"I kept telling him, no, lie down, go to sleep," Schwab said. "He was pawing at me, jumping on my chest, barking, licking my face. He finally got me awake, and when I woke up, all I saw was smoke."
Schwab says she then jumped out of bed, grabbed Buster and ran into her walk-in closet. She tried to escape through the window and get to her front porch.
"I kept pushing on the (window) screen, and it wouldn't go out," she said. "I was going on vacation, and I had some bags packed right there and I grabbed the first one and threw through (the screen). We climbed out. I turned around and grabbed the other (suitcase) and pulled it out. When I did, we both fell, and I would not let (Buster) go."
Schwab watched as the house imploded, the flames consuming all the work she and her husband had done to restore the 1920s-era home.
"My home was a living thing," she said, holding back tears. "It's dead now. I want it buried. I want it gone. I don't want to look at it anymore."
Every morning, however, she drives from her sister's home where she is staying temporarily to take in the damage.
"My husband and I are taking it both as bad but differently," she explained. "He kind of has looked around to see if he can find things, and I don't want him to. I don't want anything to remind me of what it was."
They may not have much left, but they at least have their dog that everyone now calls a hero.
"He's my hero," Schwab said, smiling, "and I'll do whatever it takes to keep him happy."
Schwab's husband was not home when the fire broke out, but they are now planning to rebuild a smaller, more modest home on the same lot.
The family's veterinarian has given Buster medication to clear up his lungs after the fire. The dog goes for his final checkup Saturday, but the vet warned Buster may never be the same. Schwab says she does not mind, promising to cherish him as long as she can.