Hero Dog Stayed Behind to Protect Others During California Wildfire

A Sonoma County family was recently reunited with their Great Pyrenees, Odin, after believing he had been lost forever to the California wildfires.

The inferno approached the Hendel home quickly and without warning last week, leaving nothing but chaos and devastation in its wake.

Worried about the fate of his family, their two dogs, and their eight bottle-fed rescue goats, Roland Hendel had to make the difficult decision of choosing who to bring and who to leave behind.

“We had minutes to load up the animals and run from the advancing firestorm,” Roland wrote on social media.

Of course, he would need to load up his family, and he naturally wanted to bring their two Great Pyrenees dogs, Odin and Tessa, along as well.

But Roland was unable to load the young goats onto the vehicle, so he was faced with a painful choice: he could either pack his family and their two dogs into the vehicle and leave the goats to die, or he could take one of the dogs along with his family and leave the other with the hope that it could protect the goats from harm.

Watching the flames quickly close in, Roland Hendel ultimately chose to bring Tessa along with his family and leave Odin behind.

When the family finally found safety hours later, they cried because, in addition to losing their home, the chances of Odin or the goats making it through the flames were very low.

And yet, when they family returned to the scene after the fire had moved on, they could barely believe their eyes.

“Days later, when we were able to make it back to the property, we found a burned, battered, and weakened Odin,” Roland recalled. “Odin was weak, and limping, his once thick and beautiful coat singed orange, his whiskers melted.”

But he was, after everything, alive. And that’s not all.

“[Odin was] surrounded by his eight goats, and several small deer who had come to him for protection and safety.”

So, not only did he save the goats that had been left in his care, but Odin also managed to protect some of the local wildlife from the inferno!

Odin did receive some injuries and burns to his paws, but he is expected to make a full recovery. He was rewarded with a bath and a well-deserved steak.

While Odin was able to save himself and the other animals, the property—including the barn that the Hendels had recently built for the goats—was utterly destroyed.

While the Hendels have said that family are helping out with their own housing, they set up a YouCaring page asking for donations to rebuild the damaged structures, including the barn and the pump house that supplied the animals with water. Undoubtedly thanks in large part to the stories of Odin’s bravery circulating online, the Hendels met their fundraising goal in very little time.

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