Trending: Find Out How This Hero of a Dog Saved A Family

Oakley is being hailed as a hero for alerting his owner to a fire. (Courtesy Photo)
Oakley is being hailed as a hero for alerting his owner to a fire. (Courtesy Photo)

By Matt Schooley

The Vermont firefighters who doused a massive fire early Monday morning were heroic in their actions. But there was also another hero. This one has four legs and a tail.

The Freeman family of Chelmsford had just arrived at its condo at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vt., heading to bed to rest up for a week of skiing. At about 1:30 a.m., Dave Freeman said he was woken up by Bernese mountain dog, Oakley, sitting on his head.

Woken up by the dog, Freeman noticed the smell of smoke coming from somewhere beneath his apartment. As it turned out, a fire started somewhere between the first floor and his third floor condo. Thanks to Oakley’s actions, Freeman woke his father and son up, and began banging on doors in the building to alert others to the fire.

“The four-legged friend is a true hero, definitely,” said Freeman. “We went around waking up people who were sound asleep. We were kicking on doors, and people probably would’ve perished if not for us and the dog.”

Freeman said that about 15 to 20 minutes after they woke up, firefighters showed up and the smoke filling the building turned into flames. The fire ravished the condo, destroying the 36-unit building and causing several million dollars in damages.

“The firefighters tried like heck,” said Freeman. “But they just couldn’t keep up with it.”

According to Freeman, the family has been going to its Sugarbush condo each winter since 2000. Freeman said he is still working with his insurance company to determine what will be covered, but added that it is a slow process.

Though Freeman was sad to see his condo destroyed, but said that wasn’t the most important thing.

“It’s been a fun place to go for many years,” said Freeman. “We’re disappointed it’s gone, but so thankful no one was hurt.”

Freeman and others have Oakley to thank for that, and the day after the fire, the canine was rewarded for his efforts.

Sugarbush opened its four star restaurant for victims of the fire to eat at no cost. And among the restaurant’s guests was Oakley, the hero of the night. 

“The morning after the fire, I took her down for an egg and bacon omelette,” Freeman said with a laugh. “We walked right in there, no questions asked. No problems.”

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story had the breed of the dog misspelled. We regret the error. 

Hugh Ehrenberg February 21, 2014 at 11:54 AM
I can't let it go. As a parent to one of these fine dogs, I can tell you that if you can find one in the mountains of Burma he would be super hot, and die. The breed is a BerNese Mountain Dog. The python is Burmese. The dog is from the mountains of Berne. Switzerland.
barbara grant February 21, 2014 at 11:58 AM
smart, wonderful dog!!
Geri February 21, 2014 at 12:50 PM
Leave it up to the family pet, better than an alarm!!
amisstree February 21, 2014 at 03:07 PM
Dogs are awesome.
Susan Rochwarg February 21, 2014 at 04:15 PM
That's quite a dog. Burmese Mountain Dogs are very special but so are all pets- and smart.
diane spinella February 21, 2014 at 06:07 PM
Great job Oakley.. You are a true hero...
Honestly IPO February 21, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Awesome Oakley ...... guessing Oakley gets his own bed, all the bones he can eat and extra time with his family! Your people are lucky to have you. :)
Ellen Partridge February 22, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Bernese! BerNese! NNNNNNNNNNN!
Katie Ryan O'Connor February 22, 2014 at 09:37 PM
Thank you all for catching that! It's been corrected in the story and a correction noted at the bottom of the story. These are beautiful dogs and, indeed, have nothing to do with Burma, or "Berma" :-) We always appreciate it when readers let us know when something is amiss. Never hesitate! Katie
Carl W February 23, 2014 at 11:07 AM
Maybe the dog just wanted them to let him out? :-)
Carl W February 23, 2014 at 11:09 AM
P. S. Try ionization & smoke detectors. They could awaken the whole buiding much faster than pounding on doors. Also, manual alarm stations.
Ken Briggs February 23, 2014 at 11:57 AM
it was still the dog that saved everyone , somesmoke detector do not work if they are not the new up dated ones . so thank the dog .
bluecollardoctor February 23, 2014 at 11:19 PM
Right, so I thought it was "Burmese" mtn dog too. I asked an owner of one: its a magnificent dog but whats with all that hair, wouldn't that be uncomfortable in the Jungles of Burma? He was like "Bernese mtn dog, as in Bern Switzerland". Me: oh, ok.
Hugh Ehrenberg February 23, 2014 at 11:25 PM
It's not as bad as when people think he's a Saint Bernard.
Betty Curran February 24, 2014 at 09:09 AM
never underestimate the amazing talents of a dog. They are wonderful. Nice work Oakley!
Magilla Gorilla February 24, 2014 at 09:57 AM
Way to go Oakley!!! The two things that they probably should've left out of the article is that people would have perished if it wasn't for the dog and that the Firemen couldn't keep up. Gives people a visual of obese slobs in turnout gear lumbering around like a barnyard full of hogs. Perhaps, unlike here in Illinois, they are all in top notch shape in Vermont... But most likely not. Congratulations Oakley, Job Well done!!!
Magilla Gorilla February 26, 2014 at 08:38 PM
I saw a guy throw a package of Bologna in the Obese Firemen's (2 guys/both slobs) at the Oswego Jewel a while back. They still shop while on duty, and they are still Fat. Jenny Craig Rules!!!


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