Butter the dog barked at the windows of a burning home in Big Stone Gap, Va., until the owners woke up and escaped safely
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Pet dog rescues family from Big Stone Gap house fire
Credit: WJHL/YouTube

A family from Big Stone Gap, Va., discovered the stray dog hanging out near its home is a hero in disguise.

According to WJHL, Charity Golloway and her two children are praising a pooch they call Butter for saving their lives. Butter is a dog that recently started spending time around Golloway's home. Assuming the dog was a stray, Golloway got an outdoor shelter with an electric lamp for the canine.

On Thursday, the lamp in Butter's shelter caught fire, and soon the flames spread to Golloway's home. In response, Butter ran to the home's windows and started barking loudly.

"He knew something wasn't right and that someone needed to know," Golloway told WJHL. "He's a smart dog."

The dog's barks woke up Golloway, who arose in time to hear the heat of the flames burst a window in her home.

Golloway and her kids ran out of the house and were able to stop the fire before it grew larger. Thanks to Butter's quick thinking, no one was hurt.

"If it wasn't for him, who knows what could've happened. It could've been way worse," Golloway said. "I'm really grateful for that stray dog that wandered up into my yard."

Golloway soon found out Butter wasn't a stray at all. Rescuers from the Valley Volunteer Firefighter Department responded to calls about the blaze and took a few photos of the hero dog upon their arrival. Some of those pictures ended up on Facebook, where a dog owner recognized Butter as their missing dog Cooper.

Cooper's owners got in touch with Golloway and explained the situation, and plans are in place to reunite the pet with his family.

"He's going to be leaving us, and that makes me want to cry, but I'm happy for him," Golloway said. "We will be staying in touch."

This story originally appeared on people.com