As firefighter Jack Korvas, Capt. Matt Lanter, and Swansea Fire Chief John McGuire made their way to the basement, thick smoke billowing above their heads, they came across a locked door. After they carefully broke through the door, the seasoned firefighters were shocked by what they saw — a large yellow Labrador Retriever, Auggie, on the floor of a bathroom, unconscious.
Together, the rescue workers carried the unresponsive dog out of the fire and immediately began working to resuscitate him, but there was no telling whether or not the Lab would make it. Chief McGuire, a lifelong lover of dogs, says he immediately felt for poor Auggie.
“When we brought him out of the fire and were giving him oxygen and trying to get him to breathe, well, I just felt sorry for him,” McGuire tells the Belleville News-Democrat.
When the firefighters felt Auggie take a few short, staggered breaths, they rushed him to nearby Lashley Animal Hospital for emergency treatment. Veterinarian Dr. David E. Lashley explained Auggie’s condition was grave, but he would do what he could to help the Lab recover.
As the days went on, Chief McGuire couldn’t get Auggie out of his thoughts. He called the vet’s office often to check on the dog’s condition. That’s when he learned Auggie’s owners decided to surrender ownership of their lovable Lab. The big-hearted Fire Chief took it as a sign. It had been four years since his prior dog passed away, and he’d started to feel it was finally time to bring a new four-legged friend home. When he heard 5-year-old Auggie was now in need of a family, Chief McGuire knew immediately he wanted to adopt the dog he and his colleagues had pulled out of a burning home.
“I told them to throw me on the list, that I was interested in adopting him,” McGuire explains. “I didn’t hear anything for quite awhile, then, they contacted me and asked if I was still interested in adopting him.”
But it would still be a while before Chief McGuire could bring his buddy home. Auggie needed weeks to recover from the effects of smoke inhalation. As soon as Dr. Lashley called with news that Auggie’s condition had improved enough for him to come home, an excited Chief McGuire was there at the hospital, leash in hand.
“He’s just a great dog, I’ll tell ya,” McGuire says of his new best friend. “I have no regrets. He gets pretty excited when he sees other people. He likes to go for rides in the truck. He listens good and wherever I go, he goes.”
And Auggie seems to enjoy his new role as the fire chief’s shadow.
“He follows me constantly,” McGuire adds of Auggie. “If I move three feet, he moves three feet.”
Auggie still has a bit of residual lung damage, but is improving every day.
“Once in a while he’ll have some spasms — coughing and hacking,” Chief McGuire explains. “Sometimes it’s like having a dog with COPD, but the more I get him out and the more he runs, the better it gets.”