JACKSON, N.J. - Jim Zimerla of Jackson, New Jersey, has always loved his dog Marley - perhaps now more than ever. Jim was fast asleep with his hearing aids out at 3 a.m. Sunday, when Marley jumped onto his bed to wake him up - alerting him that a fire was burning inside his mobile home.
"I look down the hallway and all I could see was the fire, bright fire," said Zimerla.
With the exit blocked by flames, he and Marley scrambled out the bedroom window.
"There was no thinking involved. It was just to get to the window, and I was able to get it open and put him out the best I could, and I jumped out," said Zimerla.
He is convinced Marley saved his life. He says if the dog hadn't jumped up on his bed to wake him up, he and his best friend wouldn't be alive today.
"If it wasn't for Marley, Marley is my hero. It's as simple as that. Marley is my hero. I knew when I got the dog, we were meant to be," said Zimerla.
Jim is a disabled carpenter who rescued Marley, a 5-year-old lab mix. now Marley has repaid the favor by rescuing him.
"The love that I got for him, he just returned it tenfold, and then I gave him a steak the next night," said Zimerla.
As relatives help salvage what wasn't burned in the fire, they have only praise for the four-footed hero.
"He's one of those dogs that comes along every once in a while that you're just blown away how good he is, you know? He definitely saved his life. It's a miracle," said cousin Danny Lawrence.
While Jim Zimerla gets his life re-organized, he's living in a hotel and Marley is staying with his daughter. But he can't wait to be back under the same roof with his loyal best friend who saved his life.