Happy news about animals
TARRYTOWN – Renzo, an 80-pound German shepherd-Labrador mix, lounged on the living room carpet yesterday, taking in some extra attention – and not sure why he got some special biscuits and a new meaty bone.
He is being hailed as a canine hero, Lassie-style, after alerting his owners to a Saturday morning fire in a garage next-door. Substantial damage was avoided, thanks to his quick action – and that of his owners and emergency responders – and there were no injuries.
And the chain reaction was set off by alert action from a pooch who nine years ago was homeless and looking for a family from a pen at the Briarcliff dog shelter on North State Road.
“If it wasn’t for the quick response, the home could have caught fire. It was a tight area, and there were vehicles around,” said Domenic Morabito, the Tarrytown fire chief. “The flames were 30 feet high when we got there.”
On Saturday, Renzo was the first to realize something was wrong in the garage at 39 McKeel Ave., the home of Brian and Jeanne Carr.
He barked much louder and longer than usual, said Leigh Lewin, Renzo’s owner, whose home has a sweeping back deck that overlooks the Carrs’ house. She said he began to run around frantically.
She had just said goodbye to her husband, Gil, who was heading to a fishing outing, and at 7 a.m. was preparing to settle in for some coffee and a look at the news.
“He came tearing into the bedroom. He was running back and forth, barking. There was no way I could ignore him,” Lewin said. “I looked out and, honestly, all I saw was a wall of flames. I have never been that close to a fire of that size.”
She called 911; she was the first of her neighbors to do so. She said yesterday that she was impressed with how fast the police and firefighters arrived at the fire scene.
The Carrs were headed to the Jersey shore with their children and were not home.
“We left early to beat the traffic,” Brian Carr said yesterday, a few hours after dropping off gifts of appreciation for Renzo, the Lewins and the Fire Department, whom he praised for its valiant efforts in extreme heat and despite the explosions from the garage.
“This is really a story about the firemen and the dog,” he added.
Lewin agreed. She said she has learned to appreciate the wonders of animals, having had at least four dogs from animal shelters. She and her husband adopted Renzo when he was 1 year old as a sickly animal with stomach ailments who needed extra love and training to become the healthy, happy and gentle dog he is today.
The Carrs’ home was built in 1892 and is one of a group of historical Victorian-style structures that offer a glimpse of the village’s past and its enduring Hudson River views. For the past 13 years, Carr and his wife have restored the elegance to their house. Its exterior is painted a cool pink with dark green shutters. Wicker furniture and double front doors greet visitors.
Firefighters said yesterday that the fire was caused by improper disposal of rags used in a painting-refinishing project; they ignited in a hot, closed plastic container.
The detached garage in the back is within a few feet of neighbors’ homes and garages.
Nearby resident Frank Demers heard the commotion Saturday.
“(Renzo) certainly is a good watchdog,” he said, agreeing that his appreciation of the husky dog has grown this weekend.
Brian Carr said Renzo is not a “big barker,” but he appreciates his timing this weekend. “It is good karma to be thankful.” He stopped by a dog store in Tarrytown to get some treats for Renzo – and Italian wine for the Lewins.