If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting a firehouse, you’re likely to find a pup there. Historically, they were often Dalmatians. In the preindustrial automobile era, the breed ran before and alongside firefighters on horses, leading the men to the flames. They were easy to spot and could run fast.

In modern times, however, you’re likely half the time to find other types of canines at stations or headquarters. They often serve as therapy pups, like Koda, a five-year-old golden retriever based at the Fire Department in Georgetown, Texas. They serve as comforting companions in between emergencies.

But when Deputy Fire Marshall Jonsthsn Gilliam locked himself out and his digital key card didn’t work, Koda’s value proved more than emotionally soothing. She responded before the internal 911 dispatch could. “At first I thought it was just the card,” Gilliam said. After looking through the keyhole and making eye contact with the canine, he decided to knock on the glass door.“I wonder if she could open it.” His hunch proved right as she jumped up and hit the correct switch to allow him back inside. “That was the first time she’d opened a door or even attempted.”

Back inside, Gilliam discovered that the key card system itself had been broken so electronic assistance would not have helped.

Koda — wagging her tail at the firemen who arrived later that night — saved them all from a lockout that could have cost lives.

How’s that for a man’s best friend?

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