Westminster Dog Saved Family: Four-Year-Old Shibu Inu Alerted Family To Fire In House

How many dogs get to participate in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show? How many of the dogs that do participate in the event are also responsible for saving the lives of the family that they live with? Tomi, a 4-year-old Shibu Inu will sure be one of those dogs when he steps into the ring at Westminster on Monday. Last October, Tomi was instrumental in making sure that his family was safe after a fire broke out in their home on Long Island, New York.

The owner of the hero dog, Julia Haight, along with her husband, brother, his girlfriend, a family friend, three other dogs, three birds, and some fish were in the house on the fateful fall night when Tomi smelled smoke coming from the second floor. The dog raced into Haight's bedroom and began to jump up and down on the bed, trying to awaken her. Haight states that her dog also kept pushing his body into her face, desperate to wake her. Julia claims that Tomi was not acting normal that night.

"He's normally catlike, very graceful. But he was violently shaking. It wasn't like him at all. He was telling me something was wrong. Somehow, he knew."
Once awakened, Julia thought the strange smell was coming from the heating system being turned on. She quickly realized what Tomi was trying to alert her to was far worse. An electrical fire had broken out in the home. Everyone who was in the house that night was able to escape safely. The house did not make it. The damage from the fire, smoke, and water used to extinguish the fire made the home unlivable. Haight believes that if her dog did not wake her up then "it could've been so, so different." The family may not have escaped unharmed.

With no place to live, Haight and her family have been living in pet-friendly hotels and rental homes. Did Julia do anything special for the dog that saved her family's lives? Julia made sure that Tomi got some special treats.

"Nothing but people food for a week."
The entire Haight family, animals and all, will finally get to move back into their rebuilt home towards the end of February.

On February 15, 2016, Tomi will be one of 2,700 dogs competing for prizes at the Westminster dog show. The dog show at Westminster is considered to be the World Series of canine events. David Frei who hosts the Westminster dog show commented on just how special every dog is that competes.

"These are real dogs and real people. They're not dogs that just sit around all day on doggie cushions eating doggie bonbons."

Monday's show will be the 140th year in the competition's history. Dogs from every state in the country, along with dogs from Thailand, Brazil, and Slovenia, will be on display. In total, 199 different dog breeds will be at Westminster to show just how amazing they are. Speaking of breeds, 14 shibas, including Tomi, will be there.

The Westminster Kennel Club dog show will be airing on CNBC on Monday and the USA Network on Tuesday. Purina is offering a contest in which a person can win $1 million if they select the winners in each category. The categories are hound, nonsporting, herding, sporting, toy, working and terrier groups, plus the overall champ. It is the dog version of a Miss America pageant.

Do you think that Tomi should get special recognition for his heroism by saving his family from a fire?

[Image Via Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]