Prince Edward Island couple credit dog with saving their lives

Gizmo awakened owners as smoke poured through house during storm

Jim Day
Published on April 8, 2014

Rev. Eric Lynk and his wife, Rev. Margaret Collins, credit their dog, Gizmo, with saving their lives last week by awakening them as smoke poured through their house in Hunter River, Prince Edward Island. 

©Brian McInnis - TC Media


At nighttime, Gizmo, a six-year-old Labrador retriever mix, usually keeps to himself downstairs at his home in Hunter River, Prince Edward Island. 

Upstairs sleep his masters, Rev. Margaret Collins, priest-in-charge of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Crapaud, and Rev. Eric Lynk of Winsloe United Church.

During yet another nasty storm April 1, Gizmo went against his consistent nature of staying put on the first floor while the couple, who adopted him one year ago from the P.E.I. Humane Society, slept peacefully one floor above.

On this particular occasion, Gizmo made his way up the stairs, stood in the doorway of the master bedroom, and rattled his dog tags by shaking his head.

His apparent intention to awaken Collins and Lynk was successful. Gizmo then whimpered when the two of them woke up.

“I think he realized that somehow this was not the way things are normally,’’ says Collins.

“I don’t know that he has ever awakened us in the middle of the night.’’

The couple soon discovered that the cause of the dog’s distress was thick smoke billowing throughout the house.

At around 3:30 a.m., Collins had added a couple of logs to the woodstove that provides supplementary heat to the house.

Thirty minutes later, Gizmo was bolting to the rescue.

The couple would later learn that ice had capped the opening to the chimney.

“When we got downstairs, we couldn’t see each other in the smoke,’’ says Collins.

She is certain Gizmo saved her life and that of her husband. Collins believes the pair would have been overcome by smoke if not for the dog’s jingling alarm (the smoke did not set off any smoke detectors in the house).

Collins says her sister sized up the situation best. First, Collins and Lynk gave Gizmo a new lease on life adopting him from a shelter, and now the pet has returned the favour.

“We bought him a new box of treats when we finally could get out (from the storm),’’ says Collins.

She says dogs are always more than simply companions.

“You feel,’’ she observes, “that this is somehow a deeper connection.’’

After putting out the fire in the woodstove, the couple opened all the doors and windows to air out the house as the storm raged outside.

They were not plowed out until the following morning.

Extensive smoke and soot damage was caused to the house and its contents.

Still, the ordeal has provided cause for plenty of blessings, not least of all, of course, the couple being saved.

“People have been wonderful . . . just the emotional support of our congregations,’’ says Collins.

“People have been here and had us to their houses. It’s really wonderful to have people like this in your lives.’’