Leo

Leo, a Biewer Yorkshire terrier, from Ottawa, Ontario, was just four months old when his new owner Brittany Cosgrove, 26, adopted him from a local breeder. And, it was only a few days following this adoption that he showed his owner just how much determination and devotion even a small, young puppy can have.

In December 2016, only 10 days into their new relationship, Brittany brought Leo with her to her Vancouver apartment following a visit home for the holidays with her family in Ottawa. It was New Year’s Eve and after putting Leo to bed, Brittany had settled into a deep sleep herself. Suffering from insomnia, Brittany often didn’t sleep well – but when she did, it was quite difficult to wake her. So at 2 a.m., when Brittany woke to the startling noise of Leo aggressively barking, she knew he must have been trying to get her attention for a while. Puzzled as to why Leo was behaving this way, Brittany got out of bed to investigate. This was very much out of character for Leo who, until this point, had been a very quiet and reserved puppy.
Brittany thought at first Leo was warning her about an intruder. It was only when she attempted to go into her bathroom – which neighboured the very bedroom she had been sleeping in minutes before – that she witnessed flames dripping from the walls and ceiling.

Frightened by the fact that this fire had not set off any alarms, Brittany frantically reached for her phone to call the fire department. The fire started to spread even more – becoming increasingly uncontrollable.

As the blaze grew, Brittany grabbed Leo, and fled from her apartment. Shortly after, the fire had taken over the whole apartment complex, forcing 30 other residents from their homes and severely damaging the entire building. Since no smoke detectors went off that night, the other residents wouldn’t have known to evacuate if Brittany hadn’t called the fire department in time. Thankfully everyone escaped unharmed – and it was Leo’s persistent barking and perseverance to wake Brittany that began this crucial chain of events. His keen intuition to recognize the dangerous nature of the fire – new sights, sounds and smells he had never encountered before as a puppy – is what led everyone to safety.

A few weeks after the incident and after losing nearly everything she owned as a result of the fire, Brittany left Vancouver and moved back to Ottawa with her mother. Although she has had to start over again, Brittany is forever grateful to have Leo, her heroic puppy by her side as she looks to the future.