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Strange story Of Archie, a kennel dog that never barked until he sensed that a faint smell of smoke meant danger to his family inside the house and…


A Hero In The Sixth Sense

by Breeder-Owner, Barbara "BJ" Andrews

 

We all know dogs save drowning people or wake up their family when the house is on fire but this is a strange story about a dog no one would ever think of as a hero - and he wasn't in the house - and the house wasn't on fire...

 

And the really strange thing is that it could not have been "instinct" other than that shared by all dogs, to protect their families.  No, this was that ESP (extra-sensory perception) which we only attribute to humans.  This hero dog sensed that the faint smell of smoke coming from inside the house meant danger to his family.

 

"Archie" is a real life Mini-Bull HeroArchie is a Miniature Bull Terrier. He finished his AKC championship easily and sired two litters. He's just an ordinary dog. Not particularly bright or inventive, he went nicely around the ring because he’d seen others do it.  Standing on the table was cool because he once bred a bitch there.

 

He finally learned how to get up and down the motor home steps and which crate he should jump in. Archie is a well-mannered dog but like most Bullie breeds, he's no Rhodes Scholar.

 

If however, the police and fire department had been called, you would have seen Archie on Animal Planet or the news! Well wait, that’s not right. He never would have made the news because he prevented a tragedy. He did an absolutely uncanny thing and our house didn’t burn down.

 

I know, you’re thinking so what? He alerted when he smelled smoke. No big deal, that’s what dogs do. Well …. yes and no. Here’s what happened.

 

Archie lives in the kennel. It is roofed but open, with cozy insulated dog houses.  It is 60 feet from the back deck to the kennel runs. It was chilly and dark and like the other six dogs, Archie was all snuggled in his fleecy blankets. I was cooking supper. Well, actually, I was sitting in the living room watching a newsbreak on the Taliban.

 

Bill was down in the equipment shed when he heard Archie howling. Now this is a dog that has never said a word. Trust me, he doesn’t even bark when a bitch is in season. Bill hollered at Archie and went on trying to get a screw loose. On the tractor that is. Archie’s howls became louder and that was when Bill realized that he had never heard Archie bark and even more disturbing, it wasn't the mournful or lonely howling-dog-sound we’ve all heard. This sound was high pitched and frantic.

 

Bill dropped the ratchet and hurried to the kennel. Archie continued to howl in the darkness so Bill turned to switch on the kennel lights and that was when, through the glass wall of the sunroom, he saw me running to the kitchen. Bill burst through the deck door just as I grabbed the handle of the flaming frying pan. I yelled "get back" and he held the door open.

 

I made it across the deck and deposited the fireball on the ground!

 

Archie said nothing. He just watched us. Satisfied. As we stood there shaken but safe, we realized that the smoke alarm had failed but Archie had not. Hey folks, there’s a lesson in that!

 

When we went back inside to open doors and turn on the exhaust fan, I finally smelled the "smoke" that wasn’t really smoke. I had lost my sense of smell after a bad case of the flu so what had alerted me was the nearly-clear haze drifting across the TV screen. It was like the greasy steam that comes up when you lift a frying pan lid. What probably prevented an all-out kitchen fire was that the pan had only a small coating of olive oil. I had turned the burner on high, turned to chop something, heard the news bulletin and stepped into the living room, forgetting the pan.

 

Several things are downright weird here. Archie doesn’t live in the house. His "den" is his little round igloo in the kennel. So why would instinct have kicked in and caused him to panic about our safety?

 

"Archie" Hero of the Day!Fire-alert behavior is understandable in a house-dog because a forest fire instinctively drives wild dogs out of the den, propels them to alert pack members and take cubs to safety. When a house-dog alerts a sleeping family and urges them to flee a burning house, it’s no big deal. They are doing what their ancestors have done for thousands of years.

 

What’s amazing here is that Archie was perfectly safe in the kennel and although he loves us, his "pack" has always been his bullie buddies. But there’s more.

 

While all animals instinctively fear the smoke smell and will run from it long before they see a forest fire, when had this little Mini-Bull ever smelled burning metal? Why wouldn’t he have associated the oil smell with cooking? He’s been in the house enough to know that smell! There was no burning forest, not even wood, paper or fabric smoke, any of which might have triggered the instinct to flee. He must have identified the airborne molecules of metal as a danger.

 

It is also noteworthy that our house dogs were all snoozing while the frying pan flamed! Not saying they are used to me burning stuff….. What I am saying is that only Archie, outside curled up in his fleecy blankie, sensed something was WRONG!

 

Yep, he’s a hero. He got the chicken I had intended to fry. Today he ran errands with Bill. Tomorrow he’s going to check on a job site and through all this attention, he’s still "just Archie." A modest, happy, typical Miniature Bull Terrier that never barks.

 

What a great Christmas present. He gave us a house!

 

reprint courtesy ShowSight Magazine December 2001

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