Dogs really are man's best friend. They can detect diseases. They can help out at the Olympic trials. And for one Baltimore family, they can save your life — even at the expense of their own. Earlier this week, a fire broke out suddenly in the Maryland home that single mother Erika Poremski shares with her 8-month-old daughter, Viviana. Poremski had just stepped outside to get something from her car when her home suddenly went up in flames while her daughter and dog, the almost 6-year-old Polo, were still inside, reports CBS News. Poremski tried frantically to reenter the house and retrieve her daughter and dog, but the heat and billowing black smoke stopped her at every turn.
“I tried to keep getting in,” she said. "[The baby] was up the stairs, but the fire smoke was so heavy I couldn’t get past it...I kept running back out and back in, trying to get up there. Then, the door curling started falling and I couldn’t get back in.” In the chaos of the moment, Poremski didn't even notice that "all the skin was off my hand from grabbing the rail." Indeed, she suffered burns on both her hands, as well as her face, from her many attempts to get into the house and bring Viviana and Polo to safety. But here's the miraculous part: while Poremski believes that Polo could have easily run down the stairs and out the door to safety, he did not. Instead, he heroically stayed upstairs in the bedroom with a crying Viviana, shielding her from the flames with his body. Heartbreakingly, Polo did not survive the blaze. But Viviana did — most likely because the brave pup stayed with her. When firefighters arrived at the house, they discovered the beloved family dog still covering little Viv with his body; the baby, who was able to be revived by paramedics on the scene, only suffered burns on her arm and side because of his protection. Viviana is currently in the ICU of a local children's hospital and her condition is still considered serious. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help pay for her mounting medical bills, as well as to help the family, who has lost all of their possessions, get back up on its feet. But nothing can replace Polo. “He was everything to me along with my daughter,” Poremski tearfully told CBS News. And clearly, Polo felt the same.