Amidst the Destruction, 'Tails' of Hope

Dogs know.

They just know, they can sense it.

They know who's bad. They know who's good and they know who helped them.

It's what years of rescuing dogs has shown me over and over again.

And yesterday I saw it again after I played a very small role in the rescue of two dogs from a fire.

The story starts at the scene of the South LA fire on Wednesday. That's where a six-year-old boy named Roosevelt came up to me and asked if I "could go get his dogs". Yes, just like that.

When I asked him where they were, he pointed to what HAD once been a building but now was just smoldering rubble.

Roosevelt told me that was his father's business and "his dogs Gato and Shakira" had been inside.

My heart hurt as he spoke. There wasn't much left of the building he was pointing at and if the dogs hadn't come out by now, chances were....well, you know.

"Can you go look for them?" he asked again, his brown eyes oh-so-sad.

I don't know why he picked me but I think kids know too. They also have that "sense".

I immediately called LA County Firefighter Chris Reade and explained the situation. And in the middle of all the chaos that a three-alarm fire brings, Chris didn't hesitate and came right over.

Roosevelt's family doesn't speak English fluently so together with Chris and Firefighter Randall Wright who had joined us, I asked them to tell me exactly where the business was or had been, what the dogs looked like, etc...and translated the information back to the firefighters.

And off Chris and Randall went.
Roosevelt, his brother Manuel and I watching as they disappeared into the thick smoke.

That's when I said a silent prayer "Please let them find the dogs alive and well. Miracles happen everyday. Let this one be today's."

As we waited, I decided to get Roosevelt and Manuel on video describing the dogs, on the chance they had run away from the fire and been found by someone.

As Roosevelt described his pets to me, as only a 6-year-old can, "he's this big", my phone rang.

It was Chris. I held my breath.

"We've got the dogs. They're alive! We're bringing them out", he said. 

On the video you see me telling the boys the good news. "The firefighters have your dogs!"

And while the news made Roosevelt smile it was awhile before he said anything and when he did it was a surprised "They do?".

And then from that same smoke, we saw them. The firefighters, Randall and Chris, with Gato and Shakira.

The dogs were scared, covered in ash and wet but they were alive with no obvious signs of injury!

A miracle!

Amidst all the devastation - so many families lost their livelihood and life savings when those businesses burned down yesterday - a sign of life! A sign of hope.

Moments later, as I was using my iPhone to broadcast live on Periscope and shooting 16-year-old Gato (16!), Shakira suddenly appeared and plopped down on my lap. Actually she knocked me down because I had been kneeling! :-)

Then Shakira proceeded to lick my face, over and over again.

It was as if she knew.

Yes, it may seem silly to you but to me it was her way of saying thank you. 

Thank you for listening to the little boy I love and who loves me.

Thank you for getting the firefighters to go find me.

Thank you.

I held onto her tight. (You don't want to know what my clothes looked like after. And the smell of fire and eau-de-wet canine!) I couldn't have been happier.

And Roosevelt was beaming.

I talked to his dad Pedro in Spanish and crying he told me that he had lost everything he had worked so hard  for. The business he had built with the sweat of his hard work; his "American Dream".

"Todo lo perdí", he said. I lost it all.

"But Shakira and Gato are alive", I said trying to find at least one positive on such a sad day for this man.

"Si, si", he continued in Spanish with a smile. "At least I don't have to tell my children that the dogs were lost too. Gato and Shakira are alive.  That's a blessing."

It sure is and for that I too am very thankful.

A huge thank you to the Los Angeles County Fire Department for all they do and for valuing all life, including that of our furry friends.

Thanks to my photographer Tony Buttitta for helping capture the magic of a little boy and his dogs. 

And to Roosevelt for choosing me. I know anyone he would have asked would have gladly helped him but I'm honored he picked me, as random as it was.

And to Shakira the dog, thank you...for knowing.

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