Drew Smith had never known his dog, Carl, to bark very much, but recently he wouldn’t stop. Carl had been acting strangely for the past couple of days, and it was getting worse. Then one night, his barking woke Smith up, and he realized how much danger he’d been in.
Smith, 41, is an engineer by trade, who lives in an apartment in San Diego with his four-year-old spaniel mix dog, Carl. As it happens, Smith had been uncertain about keeping a dog, but both of their lives could have turned out differently if he had decided not to adopt a dog.
In fact, Smith couldn’t ignore Carl. The Department of Animal Services in California picked up the little dog on October 1, 2015. However, he had no microchip and no known owners.
So Carl ended up at the Humane Society animal shelter, where he was noticed by Smith. Unfortunately, there was a catch: Carl was suffering from dental problems, which might prove costly. After considering his financial situation, however, Smith adopted Carl just days later.
Smith spoke to ABC News about Carl on February 12, 2016. “I’m glad that I saw through what physical flaws [Carl] may have had,” Smith told them. “He’s very happy, he’s very cool [and] he’s really affectionate to other people – including myself and …other dogs.”
“[Carl] doesn’t seem like he has …a mean bone in his whole body. [He’s] a really sweet, really just awesome dog,” Smith described. Not only is Carl that good natured, but he doesn’t usually bark much either. He just wakes his human up with good morning kisses.
With this in mind, on January 21, 2016, Carl began acting oddly around the house. He was barking a lot, and apparently, he wasn’t too keen to return home after walks. Indeed, this was noticed by both Carl’s dog walker and Smith himself later that same day.
In fact, Smith described Carl’s peculiar behavior as “a little agitated and a little apprehensive.” He even started licking Smith’s face. Moreover, it escalated as time went on, until he woke Smith up the next evening.
Smith woke to Carl’s frantic actions at roughly 1:00 a.m. Initially, he thought Carl might need the toilet, but that didn’t seem to be the issue. Consequently, Smith got a glass of water and tried to go back to sleep.
On February 11, 2016, Smith told Fox 5, “Even when I tried to go back to sleep … he kept at it. I turned on the light to see what he was crying about. And … the place was completely full of smoke.”
Somehow, the apartment was ablaze, but Carl’s warnings saved Smith’s life. The dog’s timely intervention not only gave his human the time to escape but also to call the fire service. Firefighters actually reached the flames before they got out of control.
And if it wasn’t for Carl, the fire could have been so much worse. “The gas lines are right here for the whole apartment … and it happened right above that,” Smith said. “Who knows what could have happened if this had really gone up?”
Additionally, Carl saved most of Smith’s apartment, which received most of its damage from the smoke. Fortunately, the property wasn’t beyond repair. Consequently, Smith and Carl were able to move back into their apartment in early February. But what had caused the fire in the first place?
The fire service investigated the issue. However, the results were unclear, and they found no obvious cause. On the other hand, emergency services did identify where the fire started. To be specific, it was building up inside the walls of the apartment.
What’s more, apparently no one seemed to have noticed anything was amiss before the fire began. Even Smith said there wasn’t any indication of the oncoming disaster. Although in hindsight he did experience headaches around the same time.
Meanwhile, Smith was so grateful for Carl’s warning and considered himself lucky he chose to adopt the dog. “It’s scary to think if he hadn’t woken me up, what really could have happened,” he told Fox 5. “What ifs, you know?”
Indeed, Smith said letting Carl into his life was the best decision he’s ever made, and he’s grown closer to Carl since. “He’s obviously made the rest of my life better already,” Smith explained. “He’s probably already made my life a lot longer, [too].”
Carl changed Smith’s life so much, that he urges anyone who wants a dog to get one from a shelter. Doing so not only gives the dog another chance at life, it also could save your own. Carl’s heroic actions have certainly impressed his former rescuers.
San Diego’s director for the Department of Animal Services, Dan DeSousa, described the story as “amazing.” He told ABC News, “We always say … adopting an animal from a shelter will change the owner’s life. As well as the life of that animal, [obviously].”
“[However,] it’s rare that we get to see an adopted animal actually save the life of its owner,” he concluded. Smith said that he and Carl have saved each other’s lives now. Smith told Fox 5, “Give them a chance; they may [also] give you a second chance.”