When your eight-month-old springer spaniel jumps on your chest barking and growling in the middle of the night, it is not just because he loves you.
That is the lesson Richmond woman Margaret Fortune learnt two months ago when her puppy, Junior, alerted her to a fire in her neighbours' garage.
Ms Fortune said she was woken by the dog running up and down the hallway barking, and jumping up onto her chest about 4.10am on July 30.
Then she noticed a glow coming through her curtains and discovered the two-car garage next door fully ablaze.
She called the Fire Service, which was able to extinguish the fire before it spread to either her or her neighbours' homes, both just metres from the shed.
"We're lucky not to have lost our house."
The garage and its contents, including two cars, family photos and a collection of historical telephones were destroyed.
Junior was rewarded for his part in saving the homes when he won the Eukanuba Canine Hero award at the National Dog Show in Porirua yesterday.
About 1500 dogs are strutting their stuff at the show at the New Zealand Kennel Club until Saturday.
Categories including puppies, gun dogs and working dogs are being judged on their appearance, obedience and agility by judges from Denmark, Canada, Mexico and Britain.
The best of breed and best in show titles will be awarded on Saturday afternoon.
Finalists from regional heats will vie for the chance to represent New Zealand at Crufts Dog Show in England in March.
- © Fairfax NZ News