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Dog found alive in rubble, month after fire

Hyde Park owner had given up hope

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By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / March 23, 2011

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Terisa Acevedo was crying tears of joy.

Nearly a month after her dog Lola disappeared in a fire that destroyed her home, she found the pet alive Monday among the ashes of her burned-out and boarded-up house in Hyde Park.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her after all that time,’’ said Acevedo, standing outside the blackened house on River Street. “I hugged Lola in my arms, and I cried and cried. I cried more than I did when I was standing in front of my house watching it burn down.’’

Acevedo, 24, said she all but gave up hope in recent days that her long-haired miniature Dachshund had made it through the Feb. 23 fire. Acevedo was not at home when it started, and after the fire was put out, police searched the house using K-9 units but found no sign of the year-old Lola.

Acevedo assumed her dog had escaped the blaze and was wandering the neighborhood. In the days after the fire, Acevedo, an EMT and Northeastern University student, posted flyers on telephone poles, stuffed them in mailboxes, visited animal shelters, and walked the Boston neighborhood hoping to find her dog. But as the days turned into weeks, she began to think Lola had perished.

Staying with relatives, Acevedo received a call Monday from her former landlord that the alarm was blaring on the second vehicle she has kept in the driveway of her former house.

Acevedo went to shut off the alarm, and as she stood in front of the house and surveyed the devastation, she heard scratching inside the boarded-up front door.

Acevedo yelled out Lola’s name, and with the help of friends, tore the plywood off the entrance. Lola retreated into the blackened interior, then responded to Acevedo’s call. Wearing a pink collar and appearing gaunt but otherwise uninjured, she ran into Acevedo’s arms.

“I can’t explain what it was like to see her again,’’ Acevedo said. “I just can’t put it into words.’’

Acevedo took Lola to the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Jamaica Plain. Acevedo’s mother, Tracey Bills, said the discovery rejuvenated the dog owner. “My daughter went through so much hurt after that fire,’’ she said. “So when she called me, crying that she had found Lola, it was a happy ending.’’

Lola apparently found sustenance in the house. The hospital staff said the contents of her stomach showed that Lola had recently eaten. Acevedo speculated that Lola may have eaten cat food left by residents of the other half of the duplex, which was also gutted by the fire.

Steve MacDonald, spokesman for Boston Fire Department, said the two-alarm fire was caused by an electrical short circuit. The blaze caused an estimated $350,00 in damage, and there were no major injuries. Lola has no symptoms of smoke inhalation, hospital officials said.

“We’re certainly hopeful that she’s going to make a full recovery,’’ said Anya Gambino, an emergency room doctor at Angell. “It’s something I’ve never seen before.

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.