Dog gets medal for saving owner, a Vietnam veteran, from house fire
By LANA FERGUSON | The Island Packet | Published: November 20, 2019
BEAUFORT, S.C. (Tribune News Service) — Some dogs get a treat when they do something good. Curly isn’t just “some dog.”
He’s a life saver.
Curly, who alerted his owner that their Beaufort home was on fire last month by nudging him with his nose until the man woke up, was honored at a ceremony on the steps of Beaufort City Hall on Tuesday evening.
City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department Chief Reece Bertholf and City of Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling presented Curly a life-saving medal, a certificate, and a bag of brand new tennis balls as a crowd of supporters and about 20 four-legged friends watched.
Curly’s owner, Brian Rand, was in awe of how many community members were there, including dozens of neighbors from his street.
“I thought it was going to be a little thing and ... wow,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
Rand said Curly, a 70-pound Labrador Chow mix, politely sat in front of the podium, lifting his head and looking right at the mayor when he was given his medal and certificate. Then, Rand said, he smiled when he looked out into the crowd.
“It was a high for me to put the medal around Curly’s neck,” Keyserling said. “It was probably a high for the dog, too, because he had no idea what was happening, but he recognized he was the center of attention.”
Keyserling and Curly also shook hands ... er ... paws.
“It’s a fabulous story,” Keyserling said. “We’re a real community, and this kind of story maintains the authenticity of Beaufort being a hometown and the personal nature that other people would bring their dogs to celebrate this dog and his owner.”
Rand said Curly “strutted” around town with his medal the rest of the night, including when the pair went to dinner at Bricks on Boundary, one of their favorite spots. All of the waitresses came by to check out the medal.
Curly earned international attention after word spread that he had alerted Rand, a Navy SEAL who served in the Vietnam War for 32 months, to the fire in the middle of the night on Oct. 6.
Curly and Rand escaped to safety, but their home in the Waters Edge neighborhood — where they had lived since 2016 — was destroyed.
The duo was staying in a nearby hotel immediately after the fire, but they have moved into a home two doors from their old house for the next few months.
“Curly is still right in the neighborhood with all of his buddies,” Rand said. “He still gets to go down to the water every day.”
Rand is adamant that the two will move back to the old place, even if they have to rebuild, which they probably will.
“I moved here for a reason,” Rand said. “Look at the people I had (Tuesday) show up. I’m not going to find that anywhere else.”
Rand said he plans to put Curly’s medal and certificate in a shadowbox, to be displayed next to his own box of military service medals, which survived the fire.