Jolene Solomon, 63, was sitting down to dinner on New Year's Day when she heard her pet mule, Lou, come running out of the barn.
Lou was agitated, throwing her head back and braying. Wondering why her normally placid mule was acting so strangely, Solomon stepped outside. That's when she saw the flames.
"When I looked around the side of the house, that's where the fire was coming from," Solomon told News Channel 5 in McCinnville, Tennessee. "And a fire blazing out just like it was wide open."
Solomon called 911 and stood watching with Lou at her side as her house burned to the ground. Solomon lost the only home she's ever known and everything in it, but considers herself lucky.
"I don't know what I'd do without Lou. I been blessed", she said.
Solomon doesn't know how old Lou is. Years ago, her father bought Solomon a pair of mules--Lou and her sister, Blue--to help Solomon around the farm. Blue died six years ago; an incident that took Lou months to get over.
Solomon is staying with family until her home is rebuilt--whenever that may be.
Watch the Channel 5 News video interview with Solomon: