But thanks to Chewbarka—who more than lived up to his quirky nickname—they still had their lives.
It was a Tuesday morning at 1:56 a.m., and James and Theresa Parsons’ three-year-old chihuahua-dachshund mix, Sir LaRue Winnieschnitzle (A.K.A. Chewbarka), was restless. James was already asleep in their bedroom, and just as Theresa was about to join him little Sir LaRue panicked and began to bark. "He wouldn't stop," James told the Tallahassee Democrat.
Theresa tip-toed out to the back porch where she expected to find an opossum, but was shocked to find billows of smoke and flames. Their 1,200-square-foot Woodville, FL mobile home was on fire.
“It was a wall of flames—it was going to engulf us,” James recalled. “We got out just in time.”
Luckily the family was able to escape unharmed through the front door, and when the flames were extinguished, they were told they’d lost everything. Firefighter Matt O’Brien told the Democrat that the Parsons family’s possessions sustained about $85,000 worth of damages when their home burned to the ground in early August.
But thanks to Chewbarka—who more than lived up to his quirky nickname—they still had their lives. And in the charred aftermath James was able to recover one extra-special possession: Theresa’s wedding band and engagement ring.
Homeless, the family was invited to stay with their landlord next door, but they’re eager to find a place to live. Their 14-year-old son Brian has autism, and is traumatized by any change in his routine. “Our son just had a meltdown,” Theresa told the Democrat. “In the autism spectrum world... it's hard to explain to him, so he doesn't understand.”
Even though they’ve lost all their possessions, Theresa said they haven’t lost their faith. She believes Sir LaRue Winnieschnitzle was a divine alarm. “It's just one day at a time and one step at a time," she added.
Donations to the Parsons family can be made online via GoFundMe.