Here is the article from the Chicago Herald dated April 25, 2006.
to go to the actual website
click here
Home
New Dog, New Trick by Bill Bird, photo by Danielle Gardner
DANIELLE GARDNER/SUN-TIMES NEWS GROUP
Naperville firefighters Jeremiah Adeszko (from left) and Jim Harding pose for a portrait with Skylar and her owner Chip Haines Monday in the gutted living room of Haines' burned out Naperville home.
NAPERVILLE - Attention, David Letterman: If you're interested, Skylar the Golden Doodle has learned the Stupid Pet Trick to end all  Stupid Pet Tricks.

In a literal case of now you see it, now you don't - and with an unwitting assist from her master, Fred L. "Chip" Haines IV, the golden retriever/poodle mixed breed recently managed to make Haines' kitchen disappear.

The props she would need to re-create her trick would include one kitchen stove top, one ease-to-manipulate burner control and several slices of pizza on a cardboard tray.

Unfortunately, that combination of gadgetry and foodstuffs brought the nearly 3-year-old designer dog into a harrowing brush with death, and reduced part of Haines' house in southwestern Naperville to cinders in the process.

Haines, 32, recently left home one morning for his job with Re/Max Realty on Naperville's far northwest side.  That left Skylar alone in his ranch-style house in the Springbrook Crossings neighborhood.

Surf's Up

Although Haines tries to get out the door at 7:30a.m. sharp on weekdays, the fact he was running five minutes late that morning might have set the stage for his and Skylar's misadventure.

I didn't do my typical sweep through the kitchen to make sure (Skylar) couldn't get at anything." he said.  Skylar, it seems, has a passion for what Haines calls counter surfing.

A short time later, Haines received a phone call at work from Dave Thornton, a longtime friend.  Thornton had gotten a call moments earlier from his friend Andy Orth, an off-duty firefighter for the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District, who had heard a police and fire emergency radio broadcast concerning a fire on Haines' street.

In the meantime, a neighbor, off-duty Woodridge police Officer Mark Chicoine, happened to be driving down Haines' street and smelled what he recognized from experience as the scent of a house on fire.

Chicoine determined the smoke was coming from Haines' home.  He stopped his car, ran to the back of the house, felt intense heat radiating through one of its windows and pulled an outdoor gas barbecue grill away from the building to prevent an explosion.

Back from the dead

Naperville firefighters and police raced to the area following Chicoine's 911 call.  Firefighters broke down a door after learning Skylar was trapped inside, scooping up the unconcious animal from a front room and rushing her outdoors.

Firefighter-paramedics Jeremiah Adeszko and Jim Harding strapped a mask to Skylar's snout and used two bottles of oxygen to revive her.

For the first 10 minutes or so, there was just no change at all in Skylar's condition, Adeszko said.  But then she lifted her head and started wagging her tail.

"Skylar's fur is white, but when I saw her that day, she was literally a black dog" from the fire's soot and ash, Haines said.  A bath restored Skylar's natural looks.

It appears Skylar's innate curiosity, coupled with her master's haste in leaving for work, triggered the chain of events.

Naperville fire investigators formally concurred with that assessment last week, laying the blame for the March 7 blaze almost squarely at Skylar's paws.

The night before the fire, Haines had baked a frozen pizza for dinner.

"I left the four center squares still on top of the cardboard (tray) and bridging the front and back burners of the stove's right side," he said.

Apparently, (Skylar) smelled the pizza and tried to get at it sometime after he left for work the next morning, Haines said.  And apparently, with her paw, she turned the burner on.

The burner ignited the cardboard and pizza, producing flames that spread quickly to a nearby, heavy-duty plastic cutting board and then to the cabinets above the stove, fire officials said.

Haines said the blaze was confined to the kitchen and did what fire officials estimated as $50,000 in structural damage.

Skylar and Haines are temporarily living in Carol Stream with Haines' fiancee, Ginger Whitson.  Haines and Whitson, 37, plan to wed in November and, with luck, move into what by then will be Haines' freshly renovated home.

Since moving in with Whitson, Haines said Skylar has been either unwilling or unable to break herself of her counter-surfing habit.

While steering relatively clear of Whitson's stove so far, Haines admitted Skylar has gotten up on the counter and gotten treats while they've been out.