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Foster dog thwarts burglary, ends up with forever home

Nick Franco and Kari MacDonald were still getting over the death of their beloved Labrador, Buddy, and were not quite ready to adopt.

It was a match made in dog heaven. Benny was about to win the couple over as only a canine can.

The Fishtown couple first took Benny home Nov. 7 and he slowly began to adapt to life outside a kennel. There were long walks, car rides and snuggling in bed to help him along. They decided once the right situation was available Benny would go to another home; they still needed time to heal.

Exactly a month later, the trio went grocery shopping for vegan French toast ingredients to celebrate Franco's upcoming 30th birthday.

They returned home and were walking up the sidewalk when Benny started acting out of the ordinary – pulling on his leash and growling. Once inside the house, Benny made a break for a pile of stuff on the floor - sniffing like crazy, said Franco, a real estate agent.

At first, the couple thought that things had just slipped off a table and that Benny was just acting out. When they noticed a laptop and a PlayStation had been moved, it suddenly hit them.

"Someone broke in," Franco said.

At this point, Benny was in full-on protector mode running around the room, barking and growling. When the upstairs floor creaked, the couple realized the intruder was still in the house.

Benny stood firm at the staircase. No one was going up or down.

"My dog is coming up - I don't know what he was going to do," Franco said he yelled upstairs. Everything was happening at lightning speed. MacDonald, 26 and a nursing student, was already on the phone to police.

"He could tell we were both panicked," Franco said. " 'My people are scared. I have to do something.' "

The burglar decided a leap from the second floor was his only chance. He opened the window, jumped and ran off, Franco said.

Police were there in no time. The robber, who had piled items in a book bag – including Buddy's old cancer medications – had left behind everything but a Bic cigarette lighter, said Franco. Police were able to get fingerprints and possibly video from a nearby surveillance camera, he said.

Benny has been extra vigilant since the incident. He now provides that bit of security that had been missing since Buddy died, said Franco.

Franco admitted while they both fell in love with Benny on "day two," they were still unsure about adopting him until the burglary.

"After the break-in, it was a no brainer," said Franco.

"We like to think that Buddy sent Benny to us," he said.