The Tubbs fire forced Roland Hendel and his family to say goodbye to their home in Sonoma County. They also said goodbye to their Great Pyrenees, Odin, who stood sentinel over the Hendels’ goats.
He wouldn’t let them go through the fire alone.
The Hendels actually had just minutes to load up the animals and run from the advancing firestorm, Roland explains on a YouCaring.com page.
“Despite the sounds of exploding propane tanks, twisting metal, and the hot swirling winds, Odin refused to leave our family of 8 bottle-fed rescue goats,” he wrote.
The Hendels lost everything in the fire. They assumed they had lost their faithful pet dog, too.
“He was determined to stay with the goats, and I had to let him do it,” Hendel later told ABC 7 News.
But Odin, ever vigilant and resourceful, had soldiered through the disaster. He even managed to herd the goats out of harm’s way.
“Days later, when we were able to make it back to the property, we found a burned, battered, and weakened Odin, surrounded by his 8 goats and several small deer who had come to him for protection and safety,” Hendel wrote. “Odin was weak and limping, his once thick and beautiful coat singed orange, his whiskers melted.
“Even now as I write this, I am crying tears of gratitude and awe at his bravery and devotion.”
Hendel and his daughter found Odin and the goats on Wednesday, October 11, but since they didn’t have a proper shelter to keep them safe, the animals disappeared the following day, ABC 7 News reports. The Hendels contacted local shelters and alerted friends on social media. Three days later, Odin, his sister Tessa, and the goats were located, all safe and sound.
“Oh blessed be,” Roland posted to Facebook, “They are back. All of them. Safe and sound. Even silly little Tinkerbell. Odin always made sure she didn’t fall too far behind. They must have just gone to find us. Mercy. Evac team is on its way.
“Tears. So many tears.”
The Hendels and all their animals are now recovering from the damage the Tubbs fire has done, although the going has been rough. Their pump-house was destroyed, along with the rest of their property, and they’re without fresh water.
“When you lose everything, it is easy to see what is important,” Hendel wrote. “I pray we can get our animal family what they need to win their heroic fight for survival, so Odin’s bravery and sacrifice are not in vain.”
Hendel and his family intend to keep a close eye on their herd until they can find a safe and reliable shelter for them, he told ABC 7.
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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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