One shelter dog shows new owner the joys of pet ownership in the most shocking way possible

Carl was a godsend.
January 9, 2018 2:27 pm Last Updated: January 9, 2018 2:27 pm

Owning a pet is a lot like being a parent. Not only does it require a lot of time and attention, but the costs associated with care can be overwhelming. Still, for those who can manage it, pet ownership can sometimes be an incredibly rewarding experience that can change your life in surprising ways.

As one San Diego man found out, the expenses related to owning a pet were nothing when compared to the impact that the pet had on his life.

When Drew Smith first saw Carl the puppy, there was an instant connection.

In October, 2015, San Diego resident Drew Smith was out looking for a new pet at his local shelter. There he had seen a few dogs when one in particular caught his eye: a mixed-bred spaniel puppy.

Intrigued, Smith inquired about the pup, but was dismayed when he discovered the dog had some dental problems that Smith was afraid he could not afford. Disappointed, he left the shelter empty-handed.

But Smith was drawn to the dog and, despite the expense it would incur, decided the next day to adopt the puppy, whom he named Carl.

Months after the adoption, though, Carl began to act strangely.

(Fox 5 News/Screenshot)

Smith paid the for Carl’s dental work and the two became fast friends. Carl, for his part, was a well-behaved dog, and would often lick Smith’s face in the mornings to wake him up. He was also quiet and did not bark much, if at all.

But in January 2016, months after the adoption, Carl began to act funny.

This behavior all came to a head on January 21; when Smith took Carl out for his evening walk, the dog did not want to go back into the house. The same thing had happened earlier in the day, his dog walker had said.

Smith had never seen Carl act like this before. Needless to say, Smith was worried, but he did not think much more about it and went to bed hoping the next day would see Carl return to normal.

His hopes were dashed when the normally quiet Carl woke Smith up at 1 a.m.—when Smith discovered why he knew he had to get out of his house.

(Fox 5 News/Screenshot)

Deep in sleep, Smith awoke to Carl licking his face. But something was wrong: the normally silent dog was barking as well as licking him. When he checked the time, he noticed, to his disappointment, that it was only 1 a.m.

Somewhat annoyed by the timing of the dog’s wake-up call, he nonetheless shrugged it off. But Carl was persistent, and instead of going back to sleep, Smith noticed that his throat was unusually sore; as a remedy he decided to get something to drink.

“I poured myself a glass of water and then finally turned on the light and the whole house was covered in smoke,” Smith told Fox 5 News.

A fire had been smoldering in the walls of his home for several days, the source of which could not be determined, but Smith’s home was about to be engulfed in flames.

For the cost of some dental work, Carl, the little shelter dog, had saved Smith’s life.

Smith acted fast, he grabbed Carl, ran out of the home and called the local fire department. Because of his quick actions, the firefighters were able to put out the flames quickly and save the apartment complex.

It was only later, after the shock had worn off, that he realized Carl had saved his life.

“I tried to do something and give him a better life, and in the process he’s given me a better life through being my companion, but also by saving my life,” Smith told ABC 10 News. “Who knows if I would have woken up.”

The little dog that Smith was afraid would cost him too much money for his dental work ended up making up for that one thousand times over.

“We always say that adopting an animal from a shelter will change the owner’s life as well, obviously, as the life of that animal,” Dan DeSousa with the Department of Animal Services told ABC News. “It’s rare that we get to see an adopted animal actually save the life of its owner.”