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Story of Seven
By Deborah Feeney
On May 25, 2002, my then-fiancé Tommy and I went to North Shore Animal League with the intention of adopting a puppy. We had just bought a house and couldn’t wait to bring home a four-legged bundle of joy.
There were many puppies available that day, and each one was cuter—and often louder—than the next. We saw in the very left-hand bottom cage a beautiful Black Lab-looking puppy who was not barking but sitting very sweetly toward the front of his cage. We asked one of the volunteers to bring him out for us so we could meet him. We had him on a table and were petting him, but it was when he lifted his paw and put it on Tommy’s hand that we knew we had been chosen.
We named him Seven. My husband and I agreed on the name but never really discussed why we liked it. Whenever someone would ask “why Seven?” Tommy and I would tell two different stories. He picked the name because seven had always been his lucky number and he would have it on all his sports jerseys. I referenced it to a hilarious Seinfeld episode. We were completely out of sync but on the same page at the same time.
Seven grew and grew and grew, and it became obvious that he was not a pure Lab, but definitely a mix. We think he may be a Great Dane mix, but it could be horse or giraffe. We were so in love with our dog that we returned to North Shore Animal League to get him a playmate. In January of 2003, we took home a golden-haired puppy we named Aizsa. Aizsa has a sweet temperament, but we are sure she is the great dog she is because Seven taught her how to behave.
Last summer (2011), Seven got very sick. He had stopped eating, became unaffectionate, and was not at all the dog we knew. The vet conducted test after test while he was withering away but could not find out what was wrong. Even the specialists were dumbfounded for quite some time. At one point, they told us to pick him up because there was nothing more they could do, and there was only one more test with which we were awaiting results. We thought we were bringing him home to die, and we were beside ourselves. They did finally diagnose him with rheumatoid arthritis, started aggressive medication and he got better quickly. Today he is off medication, and has not had a recurrence since.
On December 28, 2011, just three days after Christmas, at 4 in the morning, Seven was acting odd. He was panting and pacing and, while I was trying to sleep, he kept getting in my face. I thought he wanted to go outside, which is not a good idea at 4 a.m., so I tried to ignore him. Shortly after, my oldest daughter came into my room (not at all uncommon), and said Seven was acting strange. I said I knew. But then she said that Seven jumped up on her bed. Seven NEVER goes on the kids’ beds. That information got me up and looking through the house, fearing that Seven was getting sick again.
When I got up I noticed a powerful smell of electrical burning. There was no smoke, but there was an odd haze in the house. I instinctively started looking for the source, acting much like a dog myself, trying to sniff from room to room. I then saw lights flickering which got me to wake my fireman husband to find out what was wrong. Within moments of him getting up and investigating, he ordered us out of the house. I didn’t ask questions but got my girls and both my dogs out of the house quickly and into the mini-van. Tommy asked us to go to his parents’ house and, as we drove away, I saw the smoke billowing out of the basement.
Our smoke detector had not gone off yet, and our younger daughter was still sound asleep right above the fire source. I have no doubt that had Seven not alerted us as early as he did, there would have been a much different and much more tragic outcome. I can’t let my mind go there often, because it brings me to my knees. Today our entire family is alive and safe, our house will be rebuilt, and we even recovered many of our belongings because of the fast response of the fire department triggered by the early call. I could not have imagined that the sweet puppy in the corner cage would one day save our life, but I am so grateful that he did. Seven had enriched our lives before the fire, and he still does. He is funny, floppy and devoted, and now we add hero to his description. So in the end, my husband was right, Seven is indeed Lucky Seven.
I am not sure what Aizsa was doing during the fire drama. She could very well have been looking for a fire extinguisher or dragging in the garden house. She, too, is a good dog.