North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

August 25, 2010

Warrior family has new four-legged hero

By Melanie Patterson
The North Jefferson News

WARRIOR — A Warrior family has a new hero — a Brittany spaniel named Cooper.

At 1 a.m. on July 29, Cooper woke up Michael and Samantha Tomlin by barking out the master bathroom window.

“I rolled over and told him to hush,” Samantha Tomlin said. But then she noticed a strange light out the window. She got up and discovered that her car and her husband’s truck were on fire in the driveway.

The couple called the fire department and Michael started trying to put out the flames with a water hose. A tree that stands between the cars and the house had its limbs scorched by the fire.

“There’s no question in my mind that the house would have caught on fire,” Samantha said. “We didn’t wake up the boys at first [they have two sons]. But when things started exploding and everything was so close to the house, we were afraid the house would catch fire.”

Tomlin said investigators determined that the fire started in her husband’s truck when a power converter shorted out. Michael Tomlin had lumber in the back of his truck that he was going to use for trim in the dining room. The lumber apparently fueled the fire, which jumped to Tomlin’s car. Both vehicles were destroyed.

A trampoline on the other side of Michael’s truck also caught fire and burned, Tomlin said.

She added that Cooper, who is two and a half years old, is a skittish dog that lived the first year and a half of his life in a horse stall. Her family adopted him about a year ago from a breeder.

“When we got him, everything was new to him,” she said. “He was afraid of the stairs. He had never seen a cat.”

Tomlin is convinced that the 35-pound animal saved the lives of her family members.

“There was no smoke in the house, so no alarms went off,” she said.

Next month, Cooper will be reunited with a family member of his own. The Tomlins are going to adopt Cooper’s mother, who will be retired from the breeding business.