"Hmmmm, oh yeah" she giggled softly and rolled over. "hmmm" she moaned again. "That's nice." Muffin sat on her and began barking frantically. Licking her face simply did not have the effect he was after.

"Oh Muffin!" She blushed. "You silly dog, it's Saturday. We don't need to get up." But she sat up and gave the fluffy little dog a kiss before setting him aside and climbing out of bed.

The clock on the nightstand read 5:45. The alarm would go off in 15 minutes if it was a workday, but it wasn't and she was hoping to sleep in. Donning her fleecy robe and some slippers she headed to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

"Damn dog." He grumbled as he headed to the door. Every day it was the same thing. Dog barking at the crack of dawn and him not getting any sleep. Well it was Saturday, dammit, and he'd had enough.

The pounding on the door startled her so that she spilled the coffee she was pouring down the front of her robe. She quickly set the mug on the counter and tried to wipe up the mess on her robe before running to the door. She couldn't imagine who it could be.

Warily she peered through the peephole and saw a man that looked familiar, but she didn't know his name. He also looked extremely agitated.

"What do you want?" she asked without opening the door.

"I want you to make that damn dog shut up." He growled and then stomped down the hall. The sound of the door slamming made her jump slightly and set Muffin to barking hysterically.

"Shush," she tried to quiet the pup. "You are getting me in trouble."

Later when she was taking Muffin out for a walk she caught a glimpse of him in the hallway. She tried to avoid him but he saw her.

"Teach that dog some manners!" he shouted.

"Grouch!" She wrinkled her nose at him. "Too bad he's such a crab," she confided in Muffin, "because he's awfully cute." Muffin looked at her quizzically and licked her nose. Grinning she ruffled his fur and continued on her way.

Sunday morning Kari woke to a loud explosion. Muffin was barking frenetically. Kari coughed and rubbed her eyes. The room was excessively warm and she realized that what seemed like fog was really smoke. She dropped to her hands and knees and began crawling toward Muffin. First feeling the door for heat she cautiously opened it. Muffin charged down the hall toward the fire barking wildly.

"Muffin!" she screamed choking on the smoke. "Wait! Come back!" she could see the other way down the hall, to the stairwell, was clear, and she knew she could escape, but she wasn't about to leave her dog behind.

She pulled the fire alarm before crawling toward the sound of her barking dog and into the smoke and flames. Kari used her nightshirt to cover her mouth, feeling her way, she found Muffin, still barking chaotically. In her attempt to pick up Muffin she fell through a slightly ajar door into the source of the fire. The flames inside were violently white-hot. Muffin charged past her barking madly.

Kari crawled in behind Muffin and then she found him lying on the floor. Muffin was barking in his face but he wasn't reacting. Grabbing him she began dragging him out into the hallway. She continued to drag him until she got to the stairwell.

He still had a pulse but didn't seem to be breathing. She began mouth-to-mouth hoping he'd wake up or help would come. She couldn't leave him, and she couldn't get him out on her own. She opened the door to the stairwell and told Muffin to go. He charged through and down the stairs.

Within minutes emergency personnel came through the door and took over. One assisted her out of the building.

When Frank was allowed to have visitors she stopped by. "You saved my life, thank you."

"Muffin helped." She winked. "I followed the sound of his barking to find you."

"Yes, I've heard the story, on the news, several times." His eyes darted around the room for a moment before continuing. "I'm so sorry about all the trouble I caused you."

She understood his all-encompassing apology. Not only had he been quite unpleasant, but his carelessness was the reason she was homeless. Investigators said the explosion happened when Frank had put an insect defogger under his sink, ignoring the warning not to use it in small-enclosed spaces and to turn off the pilot on his gas stove.

Still, seeing all he had endured, she couldn't be angry. "I'm just glad you are okay. I'm glad we all are. And I accept your apology." Her nose crinkled when she smiled and he smiled in return.

"Thank you."

Frank was released months later but his therapy continued. She visited him often. He had submitted her name and Muffins to receive the Hometown Heroes Award.

"Today," began the Chief Inspector, "We are here to honor a young lady and her heroic dog for saving many lives." He gave a short speech. "And now, here to present the award, is Mark Davis, the first firefighter on the scene that day, who along with Mr. Young, submitted our heroes names for the award."

He took the microphone and introduced Kari and Muffin and gave them their awards.

Friday night turned to Saturday. Dawn rolled in warm and bright. "Hmmmm, oh yeah" she giggled softly and rolled over. "hmmm" she moaned again. "That's nice." Muffin jumped up on them and began barking playfully. Mark picked muffin up, gave him a kiss and set him on the floor.

"Go on now Muffin, it's my turn."

Kari laughed, "My hero." She said slipping her arms around her firefighter's neck, kissing him.