Diesel comes back, dirty and with a cough

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2013
Diesel with David and Deanna Hartley
DON SCOTT/Fairfax NZ
RELIEF: Dog Diesel is back with David and Deanna Hartley after being treated for smoke inhalation and burnt paws. Diesel is thought to have hidden under a bus as Thursday’s wildfire tore through the Hartley’s home and property near Prebbleton.

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He may have four singed paws and smoke-filled lungs, but dog Diesel is still managing to keep his owners' spirits up.

The 4-year-old jack russell-cross survived the wildfire that razed retirees David and Deanna Hartley's home on Thursday, possibly by hiding under a bus.

The couple, both in their 70s, were left with little more than the clothes on their backs after the fire roared through the Shands Rd property, near Prebbleton, destroying their home of nearly 40 years.

Their son Clive Hartley was home alone with family dogs Diesel and Turbo when the fire started about a kilometre away.

He got Turbo in the car but was forced to leave Diesel behind after he "took off" as the flames and smoke closed in.

The Hartleys feared Diesel had perished in the fire, but when they returned to survey the wreckage on Thursday night, he came bounding up, barking, as Deanna Hartley searched in the garden.

She said they would have been "cot cases" if Diesel had not survived.

Diesel belonged to her daughter but they were looking after him while she was on holiday.

She said Diesel was coughing a lot and not touching food or water, so they took him to the vet on Friday.

He was treated for burnt paws and smoke inhalation and stayed overnight.

"He seems all right. He still does a bit of coughing [and] he just stays very close."

Clive Hartley said the family think Diesel hid under one of the buses on the property as the fire went through. He was covered in ash when they found him.

"It's a relief. Both dogs were terrified, but the black dog stayed around. I was reluctant to leave without him but I thought, I don't want to stay around here."

Clive and his parents are staying with his sister for a few weeks until they can come up with a plan for a new home.

The blaze jumped Selwyn, Shands and Robinsons roads, covering about 150 hectares.

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