'I Probably Would Have Passed Away' If Not For 'Bear,' Woman Says

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A fire on Long Island could have ended in tragedy, as a grandmother and her grandson were sleeping as it broke out.

But as CBS 2’s Don Champion reported, the scenario turned out much different – all because of the family’s best friend.

On Monday, “Bear” the dog was an unassuming hero as he panted in the heat. But Carol Swinson is crediting the dog with saving her life.

“I probably would’ve passed away,” if not for Bear, she said.

Swinson was still trying to wrap her mind around the reality of the situation Monday. The extensive damage to her now-boarded up home in Brentwood was proof of how close she and her grandson came to dying in the fast-moving fire two weeks ago.

“The smoke alarms didn’t ring,” she said. “I’m wired to the alarm company. Nothing went off we were asleep under the air conditioning.”

That was until Bear, a nearly 150-pound Mastiff mix, jumped on Swinson’s chest.

“I thought he lost his mind, because I explained to when I first brought him home, ‘The bed is mine the floor is yours,’” Siwnson said.

Baffled, Swinson then noticed an orange glow coming from outside. Bear was panting, and kept looking at that direction.

“My doorbell rang – ding, ding, ding, ding, ding — and I hear banging and yelling,” Swinson said.

The commotion came from neighbors who saw the fire. Swinson then woke up her grandson and ran out of the house with Bear.

The family was certain Monday that without the dog, they would have been injured — or worse.

Even more surprisingly, the Swinson family just adopted Bear from a shelter two weeks before the fire. The irony of their rescue dog in turn rescuing them was not lost — even on Swinson’s 9-year-old grandson, D.J.

“I just thought it was really cool, because I always wanted a hero dog, so I thought about it and my dream really did come true,” D.J. said,

For his brave actions, Bear was awarded a biscuit key to the Town of Islip, where he was adopted.

“It just goes to show that animals that are adopted out of our animal shelter here can be just as loving affectionate and caring to their family,” said town Councilwoman Trish Bergin-Weichbrodt.

And Swinson could not be more grateful.

“He’s part of the family,” she said. “I will do right by that dog for the rest of his life.”

Crews on Monday already had begun gutting the inside of the house. Bear and the family have been told they can move back in between eight and 12 months from now.

The family said investigators believe the fire started on the back porch of the house, possibly around an electrical outlet.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE