Brian Skoloff/ AP
In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, photo, rescued canine “Thumper,” a 70-pound lab, sits in the backseat of Associated Press press reporter Brian Skoloff’s rental car, as he drove it back to town to obtain reunited with her owner, resident Lawrence Ross. Skoloff retrieved Thumper as it crawled out from below a home covered in ash and soot in a wildfire evacuation zone near Middletown, Calif.
Friday, Sept. 18, 2015|11:29 p.m.
MIDDLETOWN, Calif.– Lawrence Ross looked beat, his head hanging and his eyes bloodshot 5 days after leaving his home in the course of a wall of flames.
Ross appeared at a high school in the small Northern California town of Lower Lake, where authorities were accompanying locals briefly into the evacuation zone to inspect their houses and look at pets and animals. They had not let citizens return since the fire erupted Saturday about 100 miles north of San Francisco, burning countless acres and minimizing a bit more than 800 the homes of ash.
When informed officials were not letting locals in at all, not even with escorts, Ross sighed greatly, shook his head and resisted splits. “I think my home is OK, but I have no idea, and my dog exists, and my goats and horses and alpacas,” he told me. “My canine, my pet dog.”
I was preparing to head back out to look for more stories so I got my map and said, “Show me where your home is. I’ll swing by while I’m out there.”
Ross, 76, circled around a spot off Huge Canyon Road and tapped it two times with the pen.
After about 10 miles of browsing twisting roadways and evading downed power lines, I concerned his dirt driveway. It was another quarter-mile to his house. I didn’t have a good feeling, thinking about all the homes burned to their structures and the five days his animals had actually been alone.
Unbelievably, his house was unharmed, the earth charred all around it where firemens had repelled the flames.
Two horses grazed on hay in the yard. The alpacas lookinged at me from their pen. Goats scurried about like nothing had taken place.
But there was no indicator of Thumper, Ross’ senior 70-pound Labrador.
I walked around clapping and whistling and calling out, “Thumper !? Begin, woman!”
Nothing. I feared the worst as I strolled the home for another hour, ultimately crouching down and putting some crackers in my hand, whistling and calling out Thumper’s name.
Thumper emerged from a crawlspace, covered in ash and soot, darting towards me– her tail wagging, her tongue flopping. She jumped into my lap, licked my face, then rolled over on her back as I rubbed her belly and I sobbed.
“Excellent girl, Thumper!” I kept informing her. “You made it!”
I instantly called Ross.
“Your home is OKAY. Your animals are fine, and I’ve got Thumper!” I shouted.
There was short-lived silence on the line, and then Ross began repeating: “I cannot think it. I can’t believe it.”
“I’m bringing her to you right now,” I stated. I hoisted her into the back seat of my rental car and sped towards town while she panted greatly and looked confused.
As I pulled into a filling station car park, Ross rested on a curb cigarette smoking a cigarette. I shouted out the window, “We’re right here!”
He looked up in a daze. I barely had the back entrance open when Thumper pushed her escape and ran toward him, her entire body wagging now.
It was a moment of pure happiness.
“I dreamed last night the house was burning down, and I might hear her shouting as she burned,” he told me after offering me a big hug.
“I can’t think it,” Ross repeated, rubbing Thumper’s belly. He looked at me, grateful tears in his eyes.
In the meantime, he continues to be a male without a house, enduring of his automobile, however at least he has some comfort knowing his residence is still standing and Thumper is by his side.