Canine hero loves saving life, lasagna |

Canine hero loves saving life, lasagna

Michael Schneider

A 4th Street residence burned to the ground in South Lake Tahoe Friday morning, but no people were hurt thanks to an often maligned, always-hungry pooch.

Nigel, a 6-year-old English springer spaniel, whimpered and scratched at Dawn Goike’s chest at about 7:30 Friday morning. Goike awoke to find a wall within feet of her engulfed in flames.

“Nigel’s the smart one,” said the home’s resident Beth Woulf. Goike was watching the house for Woulf, who was renting the burned residence. Woulf was not at the residence at the time of the fire.

After being awakened by Nigel, Goike was able to get out of the residence unharmed along with Nigel, Woulf’s other spaniel, Norm, and Woulf’s potbellied pig. Two cats perished in the blaze.

Goike said before the fire the dogs had been dubbed “bad dogs.” She said they constantly were up to no good.

Goike said she and Woulf joke that, while Nigel is an English spaniel, his heart is Italian because of his favorite food, lasagna. She joked about one time when Woulf took a pan of lasagna from the oven and ate a piece. She said Woulf returned to the kitchen minutes later to find Nigel licking the empty lasagna pan.

However, it wasn’t food on his mind when Nigel woke Goike up Friday morning.

“I love him to death,” Goike said. “As much as I complain about them, I’ve gotten attached.”

The house, a two-story wood frame, was engulfed in flames when three engines from the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department arrived.

At one point, flames from the roof were beginning to set nearby trees on fire until firemen turned the fire engine’s water cannons on the trees.

According to Gabe Litvin, spokesperson for the department, the house is a total loss and has been declared inhabitable. The cause was determined to be a leather chair and a table placed over the furnace grate.

The fire department estimated the contents lost at $30,000 and the house at $125,000. However, Goike said some of Woulf’s pictures and her great-grandmother’s comforter were unharmed in the fire.

As for Nigel, he’s on a low-fat diet now. But he still sometimes gets into people-food. According to Goike, that’s OK.

“‘Bad Dogs’ is an affectionate term now,” she said.

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