BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Once a week, Herbert Harris cooks pork chops for his dog. He marinates the chops in lemon pepper. Inside his small kitchen in his Walker mobile home, he keeps all of his spices within arm's reach.
He has to. Harris lost a leg to radiation treatment for colon cancer.
"Doctors gave me 90-100 days to get my affairs in order," Harris said with a wry survivor's smile. Doctors made that diagnosis 13 years ago.
Today, Harris maneuver's his way around his crowded home on four wheels. His dogs, Percy and Noonie are never far from his side.
Tonight's pork chops are special.
"I don't usually cut them this thick, but this is a celebration," said Harris.
Most nights, Harris curls up in bed with Percy and Noonie by his side. Last night was anything but usual.
"He woke me up bouncing on me and barking, and I told him to settle down," said Harris.
But little Percy, the chihuahua-dachshund mix would have none of it. He yelped and jumped and barked until Harris followed him.
"I assumed someone was at the door," Harris said. "And with it being dark, I didn't know at the time that the house was filled with smoke."
In Harris' tiny kitchen, the wires inside his stove had caught fire.
"Oh, I could see it glowing through the seams," Harris said. "He stayed barking at the billowing smoke."
More dangerous than the billowing smoke was the pot of grease on the top of the stove.
"All I could think about was, if that fire gets to the grease, I was gone."
The only exits in Harris' home are through the kitchen, now filled with thick black smoke.
"My major concern was to get the power out because I knew I couldn't throw water on an electrical fire."
So, Harris wheeled himself back down the hall to the electrical breaker panel in his bedroom.
His wheelchair does not fit through the door. Harris had to hop out and began flipping breakers.
"Just started turning a bunch of breakers off."
It took him three trips from the panel, to his chair, down the hall, and to the kitchen before he found the right one.
Percy the puppy led the way.
"He's more of a follower than a leader," Harris said. "But he led me up this hall."
With the power to the stove shut off, the fire put itself out. And Percy finally stopped barking.
"He'll be one year old on the 26th of next month," Harris said. "And I'll be 63 thanks to him."
Tonight they'll celebrate with pork chops -- grilled instead of fried.