If a dog can be a hero, Tuff the pit bulldog certainly deserves that title.
When the Old River Road North home of Wesley and Penny Hendrix caught fire Dec. 13, the "bullet" colored (grayish blue) pit bull saved his owner's life. The Hendrix' daughter Megan was asleep inside the home, but when Tuff saw flames, he went into action.
"He kept barking at my door," said Megan Hendrix, 22. "When I finally got up to see what was wrong, there was fire everywhere. He woke me up just to get me out. It was amazing."
Wesley Hendrix said the two-year-old dog was already a spoiled and beloved member of the family, but he is even more special now. "He kept barking, scratching at the door, kept raising cane until he woke her up," he said. "A lot of people give them (pit bulldogs) a bad name, but it is the way they are raised."
The house was a total loss by the time firefighters arrived, but the most important thing - Megan was safe, thanks to Tuff.
"He is a very special dog," he said. "He likes to sleep with us. He has the run of the house. He's quite a character, a smart dog. After the fire, he wouldn't take his eyes off Megan."
The Hendrix family had a friend who offered them the use of a rental house near their home site, and they are hanging on, he said. People have showered them with donations, and accounts have been set up in the Hendrix name at Sea Island and First Southern National banks, where people can donate money, he said.
"This is the best county in the world to live in," he said. "It's awesome. I have no words - I am overwhelmed with the way people have come forth. It just takes my breath away."
In the short days before Christmas, things could have been vastly different had Tough the dog not loved his owner so much he did all he could to rouse her, Hendrix agreed. Tough will be getting special attention as well as possibly a steak dinner during the holiday, he said.
Firefighters have not yet determined the cause of the blaze, but said it originated on the front porch, Bulloch County Fire Chief Randy Walker said.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 912-489-9414.