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Yorkie’s yapping helps save couple

Citizen Staff Writer



Man’s best friend lived up to his title when Tuffy the Yorkie saved his owners’ lives Thursday morning.

Tuffy broke into a furious bark shortly before 2 a.m., waking up owners Brad and Frances Bishop, both 62.

“I knew something was wrong by the tone of his bark,” Brad Bishop said of the 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier.

That something was a house fire at their home of 35 years in the 7000 block of East Calle Osito, near East Golf Links and South Kolb roads.

“I saw a flash from the bedroom, came out of the bedroom and saw the kitchen vent fan on fire,” he said.

Bishop went outside, saw the roof was on fire and called 911. Tuffy and the Bishops made it out safely.

Because of the quick response, damage was limited to the kitchen area and was estimated at about $10,000, Tucson Fire Department spokeswoman Trish Tracy said. The cause was a faulty kitchen vent fan motor.

Tracy said fire crews were on the scene within five minutes of being dispatched and had the fire out 17 minutes later.

She also said the situation was unusual.

“This is the first time I ever went to a fire that the dog woke up its owners,” Tracy said. “There’s a lot of fires where people couldn’t get the dog out.”

Tracy said night fires are usually the deadliest because people are asleep and the carbon monoxide produced by the fire puts them in a deeper slumber.

Smoke detectors are vital for saving lives, she said, but the Bishops had taken theirs down because they were remodeling and painting the house. They never put them back up.

“Now they really understand the importance of smoke detectors,” Tracy said. “This family is clean, cautious and very fire safe. This shows that even people that are cautious can have a fire in their home.”

She said results can easily be deadly “unless you have a special dog like Tuffy.”

The Bishops got the playful and energetic pooch when he was a puppy.

Because of his small size, Tuffy likes to bark at anything or anyone that approaches the house.

“He’s very protective,” Bishop said.

Tuffy also likes to play hide and seek with his leather bone. He’ll hide it somewhere outside and then summon Bishop to go and find it.

Of course, Bishop said, Tuffy will lead him right to the bone.

Tuffy will be staying with a neighbor who has cared for him in the past, while the Bishops will check into a motel while their home is repaired.

Part of the renovations includes two brand new smoke detectors, courtesy of the Tucson Fire Department.

Bishop said the current detectors were old and would go off when they cooked.

“Don’t buy a cheap one,” he advised. “Call the fire department to ask what brand to buy.”

Although the family has been through enough headache with the fire, Bishop said he has one more tough task ahead of him.

He has to decide what kind of reward Tuffy should get for his life-saving action.

“I don’t know yet,” Bishop said with a laugh. “Something big.”

Yorkshire terrier alerts his owners to house fire

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