updated 03/19/2014 AT 9:15 PM ET
•originally published 03/18/2014 AT 5:00 PM ET
Malaki knew his family was in danger.
As flames engulfed the living room of his Ohio home last Thursday night, the boxer-Labrador mix did something very uncharacteristic.
“Normally he’ll sleep through the night quiet and sound,” the dog’s owner, John Abney, told Cincinnati’s WLWT News. “Last night there was something definitely wrong, and he made sure we knew that.”
The 3-year-old pooch cried, whined, and barked – anything he could do to wake his sleeping family. When Abney opened his bedroom door, he couldn’t believe his eyes. “I looked around the corner, and my living room was just a giant circle of fire,” he recalled.
With no time to waste, Abney, his wife and their two dogs ran out a back door to safety, leaving behind two puppies who were also in the house. Once again, Malaki put his bravest paw forward.
“He tried to go back in after the puppies himself. I ended up jumping back into the kitchen and pulling him out real quick before he could go in there,” Abney said.
While Abney is nursing second degree burns he received while trying to rescue the puppies, uninjured Malaki – who Abney calls his “guardian angel” – has been rewarded with plenty of treats.
Adds Abney: “He has a whole bag of treats over there that he’s been steadily eating.”