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Family-of-5 saved from boat fire by “hero” rescue dog they were fostering

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A shelter dog on a temporary visit to a family in Portsmouth, Virginia, has been hailed a “hero” after saving them from a devastating fire.

The Portsmouth Humane Society’s Paws Around Portsmouth program allows families to take a dog for a day out. Chris Cushna and Sheila Janes thought it would be the perfect thing for their children Anya, 10, and Logan, 12, and granddaughter Luna, 8.

After some conversation, they decided to look after Moose for the day. The family took the Great Pyrenees for a bath and treated the dog to pup cups and boneless chicken.

Boat fire and dog
Main picture: The fire at Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth, Virginia. Inset right: Luna Janes, 8, and Anya Cushna, 10, with Moose the dog. The Great Pyrenees changed from rescue pup to rescuer.
Sheila Janes

“She was really loving and, when the time came to take her back, we decided that we would change to apply to keep Moose for an overnight,” Cushna told Newsweek. “Then, on Saturday, we took Moose to the farmers market—it’s a big meeting place in our town.”

Cushna is also the conductor of the Southside Community Band, and they were set to perform that day. Moose went with them to the concert and, at the end, the family were able to tell the community about her—and it wasn’t long before interest was registered and local resident Emma agreed to take on the dog.

“Emma decided she would adopt Moose,” said Cushna. But as it was late in the day, the family took the Great Pyrenees back to their houseboat for the night before completing her adoption the following day.

Moose is like a little superhero in our town right now

Sheila Janes

Little did they know, Moose was set to become a hero, saving the family of five from potential tragedy.

Around 7.55 a.m. on Sunday, August 6, Portsmouth Emergency Services received a call that two boats were on fire in the Tidewater Yacht Marina, where Cushna and Janes live.

The family were sleeping on the boat with Moose when she woke them early and alerted them to smoke pouring from the neighboring boat.

“The boat next to us was burning. It happened so quickly,” Janes told Newsweek. Cushna and his daughter Anya were woken by Moose and were able to wake the rest of the family who managed to get out of the boat before the fire spread further.

Portsmouth Marina  Fires
Portsmouth Fire Department firefighters tackle tackling another blaze in the marina area. The Great Pyrenees, Moose, alerted the family she was staying with on a houseboat of the danger.
Portsmouth FD

“Those were critical minutes,” said Janes. “It happened so quickly and, at that point, every second counts.”

Flames were spreading from the burning boat to their own and, as a result of Moose’s quick actions, the family members were able to safely disembark the boat.

Members of various firefighter units and the coastguards all attended the scene, and crews immediately began suppression efforts while moving unaffected boats from the dock. Within a few hours, the fire was safely contained.

Moosie
Great Pyrenees Moose with Logan Cushna, 12, and Luna Janes, 8, left, and a picture of Moosie relaxing on a blanket, right. The dog has been hailed a “superhero” for her actions and is now in her new forever home.
Sheila Janes

Newsweek reached out to Portsmouth Fire Department via email.

Thankfully, nobody was harmed in the fire, but the majority of the family’s possessions have been destroyed. A GoFundMe to help them get back on their feet titled “Hero dog saves Portsmouth family” has already raised over $8,000 toward their $10,000 target, and they are incredibly grateful to their canine savior.

Organizer of the page James Cullen said: “In the middle of the night, Moosie awoke the family to alert them of extreme danger: the boat in the adjoining slip had caught fire, and the fire was spreading to Moosie’s foster family’s boat! The family—parents and three kids—were all able to get out safely, but their home was destroyed and they lost everything.”

Moose isn’t the first dog to save the life of her human companions. In July, a rescue dog killed a venomous snake on the doorstep saving his foster family from a nasty bite, and last Christmas, a heroic pet saved his family from a Christmas Eve fire.

Now living with her new owner, Moose is still in the neighborhood and the family can’t wait to see the dog around the town.

“Her new owner is a regular member of the farmers’ market so I know she’ll stop by. Moose is like a little superhero in our town right now,” said Janes.

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