As the raging California wildfires encroached upon Roland Handel’s home, he had to make a split-second decision — try to force his dog Odin into the car, or leave him behind.
Odin is one of two great Pyrenees who take turns guarding the family’s eight goats from coyotes and mountain lions, and he was on duty the night the fires broke out.
“I had my 14-year-old daughter and we had to get out,”
said between sobs.
So he opened the gates so the animals could flee, then drove off with his daughter, their three other dogs and two cats all packed into the family car.
“By the time we were going down the road, you could hear the twisting metal of transmission towers falling and propane tanks exploding,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”
He returned the next day, circumventing roadblocks to get there.
He discovered that his home and everything else on his property was completely destroyed.
Except for Odin, who was there waiting for him — with all eight goats.
The dogs paw pads were burnt and his bright white fur was singed orange.
“He looked small and he was limping. He was lying down a lot. He was clearly exhausted.”
A group of deer had gathered with Odin and the goats, Handel said, perhaps also taking advantage of the brave pooch’s protection. The deer scattered when Handel approached.
He believes the dog led the other animals to a clearing at the center of a high outcropping of rocks to avoid contact with the flames.
“Its amazing he’s in such good spirits. He doesn’t show signs of being traumatized at all. He’s just really happy,” Handel said.
“He’ll make a full recovery. He’s going to be back with his goats.”
Handel is now raising money on YouCaring to rebuild the animals’ barn and water supply before winter.
Well now I’m crying at my dining room table over a dog and his goats
I’m in class getting ready for class to start and I’m sitting here quietly sobbing. Such a good dog! What a good dog! We don’t deserve dogs!
Humans should aim to be a noble.