From underdog to super hero: Bud saves the day

Bud the dog with his two adopters sitting on the couch behind him
When a fire threatened a dense southern California neighborhood, Bud the wonder dog awakened his people who called 911.
By John Polis

When “Krytpo the Superdog” first appeared in DC Comics years ago, little did anyone know that a newer, modern day version of that amazing super-powered canine — from Best Friends, no less — would reappear in the form of a heroic black, whirling-bundle-of-energy Lab mix named Bud.

The fictional Krypto had super-acute senses of smell and hearing, plus super-canine intelligence. And while it wasn’t obvious that Bud had abilities different from any other dog, his sentry-like awareness and keen sense of hearing enabled him to detect a devastating fire in Venice, California, that would have been much worse if it hadn’t been for him.

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A superhero was probably the last thing Mark Loar, a volunteer at the Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in West Los Angeles, was looking for when he took Bud home for a sleepover in 2021. All he knew was that Bud was a great-looking dog with a whole lot of energy.

Part of Mark’s volunteer duties included walking dogs, and one day he spotted Bud, a black 65-pound Lab-like dog with wisps of gray on his chin. Bud had arrived at Best Friends in February of 2020 from a Los Angeles city shelter. He’d been through at least two homes in his young life at that point. Then he was adopted from Best Friends, and once again returned after just two days. Bursting with energy, Bud liked people but had a tough time getting along with other pets. He really needed to be someone’s one-and-only.

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Chantel Feola, who at the time was a supervisor at the pet adoption center, says: “Right from the start, we could tell he was super friendly. He loved people a lot and he didn’t want to be in the kennel by himself.

“He seemed very smart, too. In fact, it got to the point where he couldn’t be out in the yard anymore off leash,” Chantel says. “We had these large planters that were three or four feet high and if he got on top of them, he could easily jump the gate.”

Photo by Lori Fusaro

One kiss and that was it

Mark had his eye on Bud for some time. “I thought he was handsome,” says Mark. “I wanted to walk him but each time I looked at the schedule, Bud was taken. But one day I noticed that he needed a walk so I took him out. He was a very sweet dog, walked on a leash, knew his commands. I asked for a kiss and he gave me one.”

That might have been the smooch that convinced Mark to take Bud home for an overnight sleepover. It was a big step for him and his husband, Glenn Searle, who just a few months before had lost their dog, Jackson, a Lab-greyhound-boxer mix they referred to as their “chocolate box hound.” They got him as a pup and he had just turned 12 when they had to say goodbye.

After losing Jackson, just bringing Bud home wasn’t an easy decision to make, but the house was feeling a bit empty without a dog around. “We spent a nice evening with him and the next day when I went in to volunteer, I let them know we decided to keep him,” says Mark.

Photo by Lori Fusaro

Early to bed, first to rise

Fast forward a year and a half. Now thoroughly assimilated into the family and the neighborhood, high-strung Bud was still Mr. Excitement during the day, but night was a different story. He was usually checked out by 7 or 8 p.m. But this night would be different. With his persons almost asleep well past his bedtime, Bud, mysteriously, was wide-eyed at the bedroom window.

Even though Bud’s not a night owl, Mark and Glenn call him “the sentry” because he hears everything. “All noises garner a response from Bud,” says Mark. “He usually lets out a good, hefty bark and goes to the door, but this particular night there was no bark. We have a balcony where he goes up and puts his front feet up on the ledge, and that’s where he was — fixated on something.”

Photo by Lori Fusaro

Fire in the neighborhood

Turns out that Bud was the first to discover a fire in the house next door. It was eventually labeled the Venice Canal Fire, which had already spread to a garage below, and from the visible smoke and flames it was evident that many densely situated housing units were at risk.

Glenn immediately called 911. In the short time it took to call emergency, the fire rapidly increased in size until it became a raging inferno. “Because Bud got me to the window, he may well have saved our house,” he says. “I leaned out the window and started yelling ‘Fire!’”

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As neighbors began waking up, shouts of “Fire!” began coming from all parts of the neighborhood. Glenn went up to the roof to investigate and turned on a hose to see if he could cool things down. But the heat was too much. The building was a tinderbox and firefighters later said the temperature inside reached 1,200 degrees in just a few minutes.

Mark and Glenn grabbed Bud and joined their neighbors in the street. At the height of the blaze, which ultimately destroyed three homes and damaged two others, more than 100 firefighters were on hand. One couple watched as their house burned to the ground. The blaze blew out the windows in Mark and Glenn’s house, but firefighters were able to save the structure.

Photo by Lori Fusaro

Feting the superhero

It’s been a couple of months since the fire, and Bud, who already was a fixture in the neighborhood, has become even more popular. Aware that he helped save the day, local residents brought over a bag of gifts for their hero. It was full of biscuits, training treats a squeaky toy and other items.

Now going on seven years old, Bud is still very much high-octane — “probably one of the most high energy dogs we’ve ever had,” says Glenn. “We live near the beach and are both retired, so we have time to give Bud two good walks a day so he can burn off energy. And it helps us keep fit, too.”

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Bud came to Best Friends with a few issues: reactivity to other dogs, jumping up on people, the couch and the computer monitor to name a few. But through it all, Chantel says, she had no doubt from the beginning that his gregarious personality and love for people would outshine those issues.

As it turns out, Mark and Glenn have been perfect for Bud, too. As for the neighbors, well, they are still attaching a certain amount of celebrity status to their hero, the “sentry,” who woke up out of a sound sleep, alerted his people and saved the day.

Photo by Lori Fusaro

This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of Best Friends magazine. Want more good news? Become a member and get stories like this six times a year.

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