Lisa Ryal was enjoying a well-earned nap after finishing her graveyard shift. Partway through her snooze, though, she awoke with a start. She could hear her beloved dog barking. And while this in itself wasn’t unusual, there was definitely something alarming about his barks in that moment.
Lisa Ryal comes from Pickens County, Georgia. There, she lives in a mobile home that she shares with her husband Bill and their children Lily and John. The family also own a 135-pound Rottweiler named Luger.
Now while Luger may look like a fearsome dog, to the Ryal family he was pretty much the perfect pet. Indeed, he was so loyal that he would do anything to protect them – as the family were to find out in 2017.
Yes, one morning during that year, Lisa returned home from a night shift at the local chicken factory and climbed into bed to try and catch up on some much-needed sleep. However, before Lisa could get her full 40 winks, she was suddenly awoken.
As Lisa came around, she realized that it was Luger who was making the noise. And while she was used to the dog crying out for attention when left alone, there was something markedly different about the sound that he was omitting this time around.
Speaking to Fox 5 in 2017, Lisa explained, “The dog woke me up by barking, but it wasn’t his usual whine or howl like, ‘I’m lonely, wake up, Momma.’ It was a bark to get my attention.” As a result, Lisa climbed out of bed to see what was going on.
And when Lisa entered her living room, she was confronted with a terrifying sight. A large proportion of the Ryals’ home was on fire. Leaping into action, then, Lisa attempted to stem the blaze, but the fire extinguisher that she grabbed failed to work.
As the inferno continued to rage, Lisa knew that she needed to escape quickly if she was to survive, so she headed to her front door and yanked it open. However, as she did so, the fire intensified, leaving her with several burns.
Describing that awful moment, Lisa said, “When I opened the front door is when the flash-over occurred. It was from waist on up to the ceiling that came all across the living room, and that is when I got burned and I couldn’t get out the screened door. I tried a couple times hitting it hard with my shoulder, and the screen door wouldn’t pop open.”
Somehow, though, Lisa managed to escape the fire with her life. But while she had survived, the mom saw the blaze claim more and more of her home, robbing the Ryal family of all their worldly possessions. However, although their lives lay in tatters, Lisa and her loved ones were able to look on the bright side.
Somewhat thankfully, Lisa had been the only person home when the fire broke out. And if it hadn’t been for Luger’s persistent warnings, she may have slept through the inferno. As a result, Lisa’s husband Bill said he was “extremely grateful” for the Rottweiler and his heroic actions.
Yes, if it hadn’t been for Luger, there is a very real possibility that Lisa would have succumbed to the flames. But thanks to the family pet, Bill was able to embrace his wife once more. “If it weren’t for [Luger], there is no telling what would have happened,” Bill said.
Lisa didn’t escape the blaze completely unscathed, though. Indeed, she suffered third-degree burns on one of her hands alongside second-degree burns to her feet and face. As a result, she required some medical attention.
That said, despite her injuries, Lisa was still able to count her blessings. “I got lucky the dog was there to wake me up,” she said. “God was watching out for us, because it could have been so much worse.”
Lisa added that while her possessions were easily replaceable, she only had one life; and if it hadn’t been for her dog, she may have lost that as well. She’ll be eternally grateful to Luger, then, for saving her life that day.
Subsequently, in an interview with the Pickens Progress in 2017, Lisa said, “I’m so blessed to be alive. It could have been so much worse. If Luger hadn’t made all that noise, I wouldn’t have woken up. I was sleeping good that day.”
Meanwhile, to help Lisa and her family rebuild their lives, one of their relatives, Jessica Ryal, established a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. She hoped to raise $10,000 towards the family’s living expenses. “The family has lost almost all their possessions,” Jessica wrote. “The days ahead will be hard as they try to pick up the pieces and relocate.”
In the months that followed, the campaign raised more than $6,000 for the Ryals. However, the question on some people’s lips was simply how the hero of the day, Luger, was getting on. “Where is Luger? Did he survive the fire?” Cheryl Kirschner Campbell asked.
Eventually, Lisa herself took to GoFundMe to post an update on her beloved dog. “Luger is fine,” she reassured his fans. “He was not injured at all from the fire. Thanks Cheryl Kirschner Campbell for asking.”
So while both Lisa and Luger seemed to be doing well, it would be some time before the Ryals were back on their feet. Lisa had already thought of the perfect way to repay her pup, though. “I owe him a steak dinner when we get all settled down,” she said to Fox 5.