Hero dog protected baby goats, wild deer as wildfire 'decimated' farm

Roland Hendel heard the explosions.

ByABC News
October 15, 2017, 12:19 PM

— -- Roland Hendel heard the explosions.

"Propane tanks, twisting metal, and the hot swirling winds" that the nation has come to know as the "Diablo Winds" tore through his Sonoma County forest property and the family had to flee for their lives, he said.

The father was faced with a split-second decision: Take his family and two dogs to safety or forsake one dog and their eight "bottle-fed goats."

Hendel had to leave behind Odin, a Great Pyrenees, and the goats as he and his family along with Odin's sister Tessa jumped into the car and sped off.

He and his family were certain Odin and the goats were gone, he said.

"Hours later when we had found relative safety we cried for Odin and our goats," Hendel wrote on the family's YouCaring crowdfunding page. "I was sure I had sentenced them to a horrific and agonizing death."

The blazes that destroyed the Hendel home are among the deadliest in the state's history, having charred more than 214,000 acres, forced about 100,000 residents to evacuate and damaged or destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Incredibly, days later when it was safe for the Hendels to return to the barbequed home, they managed to find "a burned, battered, and weakened Odin surrounded by his eight goats," Hendel wrote, underneath a large closeup photograph of the exhausted dog's snout and white coat stained smoke gray.

And not only that, but Odin somehow protected the lives of several deer "who had come to him for protection and safety," he wrote on the YouCaring page.

The moment when Odin was reunited with his sister Tessa apparently restored the valorous canine's pluck.

"He appears to be getting stronger, and his sister’s presence will surely help to lift his spirits and take some of the burden off his giant shoulders," Hendel said.

Despite the immaculate news of Odin's heroics, and both wild and domesticated life preserved, the family's pumphouse was destroyed, Hendel wrote, which was their access to fresh water. All of the family's structures "were decimated, including the barn we had lovingly rebuilt for them earlier this year."

Ominously, Hendel noted, "winter is coming."

The family is picking up the pieces and reaching out so that Odin, Tessa, and the goats can have a rebuilt barn "before the winter" so that Odin’s “bravery and sacrifice are not in vain.”