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Schmichael and the Blaze

Schmichael and his family

Daniel Giffin and his wife Tracie believed that they had enough pets. With a dog, two cats, and three kids, they believed that their family was complete; however, the children had other ideas. The kids wanted a puppy and convenience their mom and dad to add just one more to the fray. The family went to a local pet store near their home in Bath, Ontario and selected a little 12-week-old mixed breed pup that they named Schmichael.

The kids, Cole, Spencer, and Sarah, and new family member Schmichael had a wonderful first evening together. The exuberant pup and the very excited children play and frolicked late into the evening. Finally Tracie announced that it was time to go to bed and off they went. Schmichael was put in his crate.

When Daniel arrived home from work, he found the household quiet and Schmichael asleep in his crate. He smiled knowing that the family had probably worn out the little puppy. About 1:30 am, Daniel was suddenly awakened by loud whimpering from Schmichael and thought something was wrong. As he approached the crate, he saw that the little dog was clearly agitated and was trying to get his new family's attention.

As Daniel walked past the window, he glanced out and was shocked to see that the barn behind the house was ablaze. It was a windy night and flames were whipping off the tin roof. Daniel jumped into action. He yelled for everyone to get up, yelling that there was a fire. He told the children to round up the pets and to get out of the house. He then called 911 from his cell phone.

As firefighters arrived, they tried in vain to put out the blaze, but the flames had spread to the house and the family watched in horror as both the barn and the family home burned to the ground. Although they had lost their home, the family was alive and safe. "Call it fate, call it coincidence," says Daniel, "but in less than 24 hours of coming into our lives, Schmichael helped save us."

An investigation determined that a freezer had shorted out in the barn and had caused the fire. Today, the family has rebuilt their home and Daniel is making planes to open a gourmet restaurant just west of Kingston. And what will he name his fine establishment? Schmichaels, of course, in honor of the dog that instantly changed their lives on the day he arrived.

Because of his immediate love for his family, Schmichael has been inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame. He is one of over 100 dogs that have been honored for their outstanding courage, loyalty and bravery in helping to save a human life.

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