“She’s incredible,” says Rob Jontangsto, 33, who was lying on the floor choking from smoke so badly that he couldn’t even move.
“She must have jumped out the window and come in the downstairs window to call. The stairs were in a total blaze.”
Tofu, a solid gray, eight-year-old foxy female feline, was quick on her feet. She saw that Rob was a goner and did what she had been trained to do.
She knocked the phone off the hook and pushed the emergency numbers 911 with her adorable pink little nose. The emergency agencies quickly responded and got Jontangsto out of the house, via ladder, just before the entire house collapsed in a wondrous, sky-licking blaze.
“I was upstairs reading when it started, and by the time I realized what was going on, the stairs were impossible to pass. The second floor is so high up that I couldn’t jump out the window without surely getting killed.
“Then the smoke got to me and I was out. The next thing I remember was getting oxygen treatment in the ambulance.
“Since I live alone, I took the precaution of teaching Tofu how to dial 911, but I never did what I should have done. I should have gotten a fire alarm system. And put in a phone upstairs.”
Jontangsto, a bartender in Garmuna, Burma, said that he was happily shocked that Tofu remembered how to act in an emergency.
“I’ve trained that cat to take care of herself, and both of us in a pinch, but she’s never actually had to. It’s been years since we worked on telephone skills. Thank God she remembered.”
Fire inspector Melvo Torknik says that if they had gotten there one minute later it would have been all she wrote for Jontangsto.
“It was a close call,” Torknik says. “We wanted to get him out of there, but we didn’t want to lose any of our men.
“We took a risk and it paid off. We were lucky.”
Torknik says that it is impossible to determine the exact cause of the fire, but that the house was so old he suspects the wiring is what did it.
Trenk Blasfo, PhD., a specialist in animal training, says that it is a typical reaction for pets under pressure.
“Sometimes they are stubborn during the training process,” he says. “And people don’t realize how much they are really learning. They are smart enough to know the difference between a practice situation and the real thing.
“This is just more proof that it pays to spend time training pets,” Dr. Blasfo says.
Jontangsto says he will be forever in debt to his trusty pet.
“Tofu has always been like my child and dearest friend,” says the grateful Jontangsto. “Now, she will always be my top priority. No more cat food for her. She’ll always eat premium cuts of fish and meat now. No matter what happens, I’ll do whatever I can to make her the happiest cat in the world.
“And I’ll never, never complain about her fleas again.”