Incredibly, more heroic stories are emerging from the devastation of the Sonoma County, California, wildfires. So much property has been destroyed in the city of Santa Rosa but, as we shared with you recently, one dog named Izzy made it out alive.
So, too, did another lucky and brave pooch. This one was named Odin after the god from Norse mythology and, as you’ll soon see, he has truly lived up to his name.
At 10:30 in the evening, Roland Tembo Hendel smelled smoke but saw no flames hovering in the sky or on his property. He traversed his land by ATV to be sure and everything seemed fine, but just 25 minutes later, everything changed.
The atmosphere above their property suddenly began to turn orange. That’s when Hendel told his daughter to get ready to leave. Just 15 minutes later they saw the first flames.
The two quickly worked to get their dogs and cat into the car. However, Odin, their “stubborn and fearless” goat-guarding Great Pyrenees, refused to leave the goats that had been placed in his care.
“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,” said Hendel. “I made a decision to leave him, and I doubt I could have made him come with us if I tried. We got out with our lives and what was in our pockets.”
He described their frantic evacuation: “Cars behind us on Mark West Springs Road 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 Odie to death, along with our precious family of bottle-raised goats.”
Hendel and his daughter returned home as soon as they could. Sneaking past evacuation roadblocks, they found a smoldering wasteland that had once been pristine forest and homes.
Then, through the soot and debris, they saw something that left them stunned – Odin, eight goats, and a few baby deer emerged mostly unharmed.
“Eight goats came running to see us and get cuddles and kisses. Dixon has a burn on his back the size of a nickel. Other than that they are perfectly fine,” Hendel said.
Hendel couldn’t believe the state in which he found Odin and their goats. It certainly could have been much worse.
“Odin’s fur is burned and his whiskers melted. He is limping on his right leg,” Hendel said of the dog’s injuries. Then he noted something else pretty amazing: “[Odin] has adopted several baby deer who huddle around him for safety and water from their trough, which is miraculously intact and full of relatively clean water.”
In the days that followed the Tubbs Fire, Hendel managed to return several times to his property and rescue the goats. He brought them to a shelter barn where they are resting comfortably.
Odin, too, has been given a clean bill of health from the volunteer vets who examined him. Miraculously, the family has raised enough money through their YouCaring page to rebuild their pumphouse and filtration system, build a new barn, and repair the fence around the perimeter of their property.
“With this in mind,” Hendel wrote in a Facebook post, “we have decided that going forward, for every $1 we receive, 50 cents will go toward a replacement trailer for Odin’s and Tessa’s goats, and 50 cents will go to the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Center, where we once took downed animals we found on our land. This will provide care for animals affected by this tragedy, that Odin could not care for himself. Once the trailer is covered, all remaining funds will go to SCWRC.”
In this catastrophic natural disaster when so much has been lost, these inspiring stories are rays of light and hope. Despite the loss, there’s strength and the fight to rebuild and move forward.
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