The fate of the Feeney family rested in the paws of a labrador mix named Seven this week. Tom Feeney, a former chief of the , awoke to a fire in the basement of his Syosset home and got his family safely out, all because of Seven.
Seven-year-old Brooklyn Feeney was awakened at just past 4 in the morning Wednesday by Seven's frantic barking. Frightened and knowing something had to be wrong, she ran into her parents' room to wake them. Her mother, Deborah, went downstairs to investigate and saw through a haze in the living room that the lights were flickering. Deborah quickly woke Tom and went to get their youngest daughter, five-year-old Jayda
Tom went through the hazy living room where lights were flickering, down to the basement, opened the door and saw the fire and smoke that had triggered Seven's response.
"We're changing the saying from 'a dog is a man's best friend' to 'a dog is a family's hero'," said Feeney, who was able to safely evacuate his wife, daughters, their other dog Aizsa, and Seven.
Thanks to Seven, who sensed danger even before the smoke detectors, the entire family is now safe. It did, however, prove that fire does not discriminate against anyone.
"Firemen are not exempt from fires," said Tom. "We [firefighters] may fight them, but that doesn't mean we're exempt."
The home has significant smoke damage and Feeney foresees many repairs between damage from the fire and remnants of the firefighters' efforts to extinguish it.
"The house looks broken," said Jayda Feeney, their younger daughter.
Most of the girls' Christmas presents were lost or damaged, including brand new American Girl dolls that had to be taken to the doll hospital.
Thankfully, the dolls were the only ones hospitalized in this potential tragedy.
"The most important thing is that I have these two and my wife and my dogs. That's all that matters, right?"
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. In the meantime, the family is staying at a dog-friendly hotel where the girls have been enjoying the indoor pool.