This is a hero's tale of a brave Great Pyrenees named Odin, who took on the job as keeper of a family of 8 bottle-fed goats and refused to abandon them in the midst of evacuation efforts from a raging wildfire.
Northern California Wildfires Strike Without Warning
There was the overpowering stench of encroaching smoke and flame and everything that followed was a hasty blur. Robert Handel woke up everyone and led his 14-year-old daughter, Ariel, into their car. He turned to get the family dog, Odin, into the car, but the Great Pyrenees laid down in front of the goats he had come to love and protect and refused to budge. As the flames licked closer, Handel became desperate and made a heart-breaking, life and death decision he knew would haunt him for the rest of his natural life. (See: Cat Named Tink Saves Family from Fire.)
As the area filled with smoke and the sounds of collapsing propane tanks, he made sure that the gate remained open for the animals, got in his car and drove away from his property and his beloved pets. He told the press: "I made a decision to leave him...Even under the best of circumstances, it is nearly impossible to separate Odin from the goats after nightfall when he takes over the close watch from his sister, Tessa. We got out with our lives and what was in our pockets.Cars behind us...were pouring flames out of the windows as they roared down the road. Later that morning, when we had outrun the fires, I cried, sure that I had sentenced Odin to death, along with out precious family of bottle-raised goats." (See:Half-Wolf Saves Elderly Couple In Snowstorm.)
The Family Returned To The Scene The Next Day
Defying roadblocks the next morning, Handel was determined to return to his property although he dreaded what he might find. He and his daughter were surprised and enormously relieved to discover that guardian, Odin, the goats and several deer that had taken shelter under Odin's protection were all safe and sound. Handel guessed that Odin had led his charges to a rocky outcropping on higher ground where the fire had not reached. In his own words: "I could never describe the relief and joy we felt to find them safe and accounted for."
Odin had sustained some injuries. The poor dog's whiskers had melted, he had a limp in his right leg, his paw pads were burned and he was exhausted. But the vet cleared him and the goats, who with the exception of one small burn on the back of one of the goats, were all fine. (See: Dog Saves Human Friends From Bear Attack.)
All is Well that Ends Well
Handel has since raised enough money via a You Caring page to rebuild the barn that burned to the ground and restock the water and food supply for all the animals. The goal of $45,000 is nearly reached, and anything over that Handel promises will be split between buying a new trailer for the goats and the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Center, which will be slated to aid all animals affected by the terrible wildfires. (See: Lulu The Pot-Bellied Pig Saves Owner.)
See also: Bretagne