SWANSEA — The yellow Labrador rescued from a house fire by Swansea firefighters in June has a new home with one of his rescuers.
Swansea Fire Chief John McGuire adopted Auggie and has had him home for about a month. The large, friendly dog remained at the Lashley Animal Hospital in Swansea recovering from the injuries he sustained in the fire for a couple of months.
"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 said. His heart might have melted just a little bit for the 90-pound animal who was fighting for his life.
Firefighters found Auggie locked in a bathroom in a burning house in the 4000 block of Bassen Drive. When they found him he was unresponsive and firefighters had to drag him out. At the time, McGuire and other firefighters didn't know whether Auggie would make it.
McGuire kept in contact with veterinarian Dr. David E. Lashley, visiting Auggie and keeping updated on the dog's recovery. He soon learned the owners of the dog had relinquished ownership and Auggie would be available for adoption as soon as he recovered enough to leave the clinic.
"I told them to throw me on the list, that I was interested in adopting him," McGuire said. "I didn't hear anything for quite awhile, then, they contacted me and asked if I was still interested in adopting him. He's just a great dog, I'll tell ya. 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. He follows me constantly. If I move three feet, he moves three feet."
Auggie, who is about 5 years old, has been swimming in a lake and has tried his skill at chasing a few rabbits. He's not a very good rabbit catcher, McGuire added.
"He is a very mellow, lovable thing," McGuire said. "He likes playing tug-of-war with his rope toy. He goes through about one of them a week, and it's a pretty big rope."
McGuire last had a dog in his life about four years ago when his elderly spaniel died and is happy to have a four-footed companion following him around again and being constantly nearby.
"I'd been thinking about it off and on for a while," McGuire said of adopting a dog.
Auggie still has some residual lung damage sustained in the fire, but Lashley told McGuire it should get better over time.
"Once in a while he'll have some spasms -- coughing and hacking," McGuire said. "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."
The fire, which had multiple points of origin, is still considered suspicious and remains under investigation by the Illinois State Fire Marshal and the Swansea Police. The home sustained smoke damage and some content loss, but no significant structural damage.
Contact reporter Jennifer A. Schaaf at email@example.com or 618-239-2667.