PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A fire in Portsmouth destroyed multiple boats at the Tidewater Yacht Marina last weekend and one family credits their foster dog Moose for alerting them about the blaze.
The family of five was asleep on their houseboat when the fire broke out.
“What I like to think is we saved Moose from the situation she was in and she saved us on the boat,” said Christopher Cushna as he detailed the events of the past few days.
Last weekend, Christopher Cushna and Shiela Janes, who operate Olde Town Arts and Music in Portsmouth, and their children took in Moose, a Great Pyrenees, as a foster.
They fostered Moose as part of Portsmouth Humane Society’s program “Paws Around Portsmouth” where members of the community can be paired with a shelter dog for a “field trip” that can last a few hours or a few days.
“[The dogs at the pound] were going crazy,” said Logan Cushna. “And we go to the back and there’s this dog. Moose was just so quiet.”
“He was a gentle giant,” added Christopher.
Saturday they showed Moose around their music shop and around town, advertising that the pooch needed a forever home. They met someone looking to adopt at the market.
“Emma met Moose at the market but wasn’t able to adopt that same day, which meant we had one extra day with Moose which we didn’t expect,” said Christopher.
They took Moose home to their houseboat and went to sleep.
The extra night with Moose may have just saved the family’s lives.
Moose got up early Sunday and woke Christopher and daughter Anya Cushna up. They then saw smoke billowing from a neighboring boat and woke the rest of the family.
“The kids were great, they just got up and went,” said Christopher. “We had to actually go past the boat that was burning and it was a really big inferno, it was amazing. It was hot. It was very hot. We got around it safely to shore and that’s when our boat caught fire. If Moose was not there, at the very least, it would have been an emergency evacuation. I could have seen us having to dive into the waters. It would have surprised us. What Moose was able to do was eliminate the surprise.”
“And I don’t think 911 would have come as early,” said Logan. “As soon as we got up, we started screaming to call 911.”
The family lost their houseboat, but they said Moose saved them. And just three hours after the fire, Moose was adopted by the person they met at the market.
“Moose is such a good dog,” said Logan.
Now, the community is coming to help those impacted. The Portsmouth Farmer’s Market created a GoFundMe for the family and is placing a donation jar at the Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmer’s Market Saturday.
Moose is getting lots of love at his new home.
The family said they would love to foster again in the future.