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Family pet saves the day

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August 21, 2006

Americus--The phrase "man's best friend" took on a deeper meaning for one area family. A little dog called Winn-Dixie, named after a popular book and movie, ranks right up there with Lassie after his lifesaving actions.

The furry, Yorkshire terrier is more than just a pet to Julie Stewart and her daughter Atalie.

"We look at him a little differently," says Julie Stewart.

Atalie says her active friend named Winn-Dixie is a hero. "He saved our lives," says Atalie. 

From a fire that destroyed much of their home. This is what's left. "We just lost about all of our things personally," says Julie.

"The windows are broken. It's all destroyed," says Atalie.

On the morning of August 9th, Julie and her family were busy getting ready for school and work when Winn-Dixie sensed something just wasn't right.

"He went to my husband's study room and started barking his head off so he got up and went into the kitchen, and that's when he saw the smoke," says Julie.

"My dad just yelled, 'Fire, fire!'" says Atalie.

A fire had started in the laundry room and quickly intensified. Julie was in the shower when the fire began. "See the hot water heater backs up to the shower here. And that's where I was.  Probably in ten, fifteen minutes later the fire could have gone into the hallway, which would have blocked me from getting out," says Julie.

Fortunately Winn-Dixie came to the family's rescue just in time.  "He sure did a good job of letting us know," says Julie.

"He loves me a lot. I love him," says Atalie.

While Winn-Dixie saved the day, the family believes a much higher power was also looking out for them.

The Winn-Dixie grocery story in Americus rewarded the Yorkshire terrier with a large basket of treats for his bravery.

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