This South Carolina veteran never planned on adopting his rescue dog, but the pup may be the only reason he's alive today.
Brian Rand, of Beaufort, escaped his home just moments before it was consumed by fire thanks to Curly, the pup that nudged him awake in the middle of the night.
“I was really lucky,” Rand told InsideEdition.com. “Within a minute or two, that fire completely engulfed the ceiling in the attic. We’re very grateful.”
Rand, a Vietnam veteran, explained he went to bed early Sunday night for a doctor’s appointment at the local V.A. in the morning. He set an alarm on his phone.
He said he sometimes forgets and leaves his cellphone in the other room overnight, so Curly might come into the room and nudge him awake if he hears it going off in the morning.
“He comes in and he starts trying to wake me, poke me with his nose, so I open my eyes and think, ‘Oh the alarm must be going off,’” Rand recalled. “I picked the phone up, it’s only 12:58 AM so I said, ‘What are you doing?’”
Confused, Rand walked into the hallway and noticed heavy smoke filling the house.
“I walked a little further into my living room and I could see the curtain’s on fire, so I turned the other way and went right outside and dialed 911,” he said.
Firefighters were there within minutes and successfully rescued some of his military medals and memorabilia, but the home was lost.
“Within a couple minutes, the smoke would have been everywhere, even though the doors were closed,” Rand said. “I wouldn’t have woken up.”
Rand said he had no idea where Curly learned the skills that would save his life. Rand never intended for Curly to become his service dog. In fact, Rand never intended to adopt Curly at all.
He said he had just moved into the area three years ago when one day he became frustrated with traffic and pulled into the parking lot of an animal shelter.
Rand began chatting up someone who worked there when he found himself entertaining the idea of getting a dog — specifically a small, 20-pound female dog — to become his companion.
“The ones they had were too active and for whatever reason, I saw Curly sitting in the back. I said, ‘Let me try that dog,’” Rand said.
Even though Curly was the opposite of what he originally wanted — a male dog about 70 pounds — “That was it. He just never left my side,” he said.