Jess - The Fabulous, Feisty, Fire-fighting Fox Terrier

The Buckley family from Te Awamutu always knew that their very alert sixteen month old fox terrier Jess was a very clever little dog, but just how clever didn't become apparent until the morning of the 27th of July 2006. It was about 5.15 am that a motor in a freezer in a downstairs garage caught fire, and as the house started to filll with the pungent smell of smoke, Jess stood at the top of the two-storey staircase and frantically barked her head off, which woke Robert. As he started to inhale the smoky air, he quickly jumped out of bed and made his way to his daughters bedrooms. He was able to get Simone and Shaunie out of bed and onto a balcony, but when he tried to rescue Monique the eldest one, the smoke was too thick, so he escaped through an upstairs bathroom window. While this was taking place, his wife Michelle was returning home from her paper round, so she got Monique out, and quickly telephoned the fire service. Then she went to their neighbours house and they brought a ladder over and helped Simone and Shaunie down to safety, and when the fire service arrived, they rescued Robert. The house and nearly everything in it was saved, but Jess was nowhere in sight. She went into hiding but eventually came out in a timid, worried and frightened state. Everyone was so pleased to see her, and so grateful to Jess for saving their lives, that they just kept cuddling her, and telling her that she is a marvellous dog.

Someone in the fire service asked the family if they could ring the media, and they agreed, so soon after the fire Jess was being hailed as a heroine. The story of this very brave, clever little dog and how she saved the lives of four family members, was soon on the radio and television news, and an article and big photograph of Jess and her family appeared on the front page of the Waikato Times newspaper.

Simone found out about the New Zealand Kennel Club and The ProPlan NZ Canine Heroes Awards from a colleague at work, so she contacted someone in the club and mentioned the remarkable story about Jess. So on the 29th of September 2006 Jess hit the headlines once again as winner of the NZ Life Saving Dog of the Year Award for saving her family's lives. She was awarded a medallion and a years supply of ProPlan premium dog food. Several other canine achievers also picked up awards that day. Jess's fame and award hasn't affected her at all. The Buckley family loved her very much prior to the fire, but they love her even more now and show her every day, just how much.

Elizabeth Krammer
Fifty seven years.
True Story?: