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Dog alerts family to house fire

Lola, a Chow-mix, and owner Tammy Fouts are still together thanks to Lola's quick thinking in waking Fouts up when the house caught fire last week as thunderstorms roared through the area. Lola is enjoying her status as a heroine, especially the rack of ribs Jim Fouts cooked just for her as a token of thanks for her life-saving efforts. - Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

Lola, a Chow-mix, and owner Tammy Fouts are still together thanks to Lola's quick thinking in waking Fouts up when the house caught fire last week as thunderstorms roared through the area. Lola is enjoying her status as a heroine, especially the rack of ribs Jim Fouts cooked just for her as a token of thanks for her life-saving efforts. - Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

COVINGTON -- The Fouts family of Covington are singing the tune, "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets," right now after a dog by that name saved the lives of a grandmother and her 7-year-old grandson when their house caught fire last week.

Many believe that when a dog is rescued from the life of a stray, they know it and are especially devoted to their owners. Nobody knows if that's truly the case, but Lola certainly appears to have been waiting for just the right moment to repay the Fouts family for all they've done for her.

Tammy Fouts and her grandson, who was visiting from Eatonton, went to bed on Wednesday, July 11, around 10 p.m.

"He was asleep at 10:30 and I turned the TV off. We were sound asleep," Fouts recalled. "Lola woke me up and she kept nudging my bed. I leaned over and petted her and said, 'It's alright,' thinking she was worried about the storm."

But Lola kept nudging, preventing Fouts from dozing off again and she said shortly she heard a popping and cracking sound.

"Usually I keep a fan running in my hall to drown out the noise and keep my teenagers from waking me up. They weren't at home and when I got in bed, I realized I didn't have it on, but thought I'd try to sleep without it," Fouts said, adding that had it been on she probably wouldn't have heard the sound that finally got her out of bed.

"I thought, 'What is that noise?' and I looked out my window and there were embers coming down," she said. "It's only by the grace of God that Lola woke me up."

The entire second story of the house, right over Fouts' head, was ablaze. When firefighters arrived they were greeted by heavy smoke and flames coming from the second story and the roof.

Newton County Fire Service Assistant Chief Brad Stapp said first indications are that the blaze began from a lightning strike, but the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. There were thunderstorms moving through the area at the time of the fire and Fouts said the lights had flashed on and off several times during the evening.

Lola had arrived uninvited at the Fouts home about eight years previously and had become friends with a dog they had on a run in the backyard. When that dog died, Lola moved up a notch in the pack and was shortly spending her evenings inside with the rest of the family.

"I think she was mistreated before because it took her a long time to become one of us," Fouts said.

When Lola first arrived Fouts said her husband Jim was not thrilled at the notion of taking on another canine mouth to feed -- there are two smaller dogs, as well -- but now he saves all his scraps when he's on the road with his truck and brings them home to Lola.

Scraps weren't good enough for Lola this week, however. After their nerves from the fire calmed down a bit, Jim grilled a rack of ribs especially for the heroine and she finished them off all by herself.

The Fouts home on Stacia Drive appears to be a total loss and they are awaiting assessments from the insurance company. They've been in the house for 15 years and are now staying with Fouts father who lives just up the street.

"The night the fire happened, Lola went behind the barn and stayed there," Fouts said, adding that as the night wore on, she left and went to her father's house to sleep because the firemen had said they would be there all night. "When I got up there, Lola was already there."

Fouts said it's been a stressful week and a sad week, but she's assured there are better times ahead.

"I want to cry sometimes just because I loved his place ... We made some good memories here ... I remodeled the whole thing, but the Lord's got something better for me and I know that. The older you get, the material things don't mean as much. I feel like everything happens for a reason," she said.

Fouts said all the family needed was prayer.

"Pray that me and my husband will make right decisions that are good for our whole family. That's all we need," she said. "Financially we are good. The Lord is going to bless us and I know that. He always does."