For years, humans and animals have lived side by side as we use them for food and farming. Before modern farming technology like tractors, we needed animals more than ever to help our crops grow, and that meant looking after them. One way farmers used to ensure their livestock were kept safely was to use herding dogs, that could do the work of several farmers on their own.
They became necessary for getting sheep and goats from one paddock to another to stop them from eating all of the grass in one field. One goat herding dog took his job very seriously and made looking after his flock a job to be proud of. Then a wildfire ravaged through the farm’s area, and it was time for everyone to leave, but the dog stayed behind, refusing to leave his herd.
When the farmer returned he was expecting the worse, but amazingly his dog and herd remained alive. This is the story of Odin, the goat-herding dog and his heroics to save his flock from a fire.
Odin the Great Pyrenees
This is Odin, the goat-herding dog named after a Norse god, who loves nothing more than looking after his flock. Like many dogs on farms, he has been trained from a very young age to control herds of animals to make them go where farmers want them.
It takes a lot of skill to train a dog in this way, but the animals seem to love it as they are super smart and love being given jobs to do.
A tough profession
Odin was owned by farmer Roland Tembo Hendel and his family, who all lived on a farm in Sonoma County, California. Their home and belongings were all on that farm, not to mention some livestock and precious materials they would sell to make a living. Farming is a tough business because it often depends on a whole bunch of factors to make a success.
If you grow crops, your business is dependant on the weather being good, and then you have to make sure no other animals or insects eat into your profits. Looking after livestock is not any easier, and there are many illnesses farmers have to prevent while also providing them with enough food and shelter to grow.
A job for life
Farming is tough, but many who choose to do it in life would argue there is nothing they would rather be doing. The same feeling seemed to be true for Odin, and the goat-herding dog relished his responsibility. Looking after a herd of goats is tough enough for the farmer, but Odin was a dog and only had a limited amount of control over them.
He stuck to his task like a professional and built up enough trust with the goats to guide them wherever the farmer decided they should be. Building this trust with the goats would be incredibly important for the difficult situation they were about to find themselves in.
During October 2017 a fire was raging its way through California. It was called the Tubbs fire, and it largely affected the Sonoma area of the state. Roland’s farm was in the path of the fire and as it continued to blaze it became clear that their farm was under serious threat.
With the fire at their doorstep, the farmer had no choice but to abandon his land with his family. There was no way they could stop it, so their only option was to escape. Unfortunately, Roland couldn’t take his farm animals with him, so he was forced to leave them behind. This is where Odin really earned his name as he was left in charge of the goats.
Doing what he does best
Odin couldn’t have known he was going to be left behind by Roland and there was probably no chance of him surviving. All the dog was focused on was looking after its herd of goats. Roland was convinced that when he left his beloved dog behind it would not be there when he returned, and neither would his goats.
How could they survive a raging fire? Roland and his family wept when they got to safety as they knew their animals would not be there when they got back. A few days after the fire passed through the farm Roland returned home to inspect the damage. Everything was scorched, and it seemed like there was no way anything survived.
Discovering a miracle
Roland returned to his farm with low expectations. With everything burned it was only a matter of time before he found the remains of Odin and the goats, but they were not to be found. Miraculously, as Roland inspected his farm, his goats came out of nowhere and ran toward him.
They recognized him, but how had they survived? Roland inspected more of the farm and discovered the reason the goats survived, they had their ever-watchful herding dog, Odin, looking out for them.
Doing what he does best
Somehow Odin had guided the goats to safety, even putting himself at risk. When Roland discovered Odin, his dog had suffered burns to his leg, while some of his whiskers and fur had been scorched. Somehow the herd remained safe and sound, while Odin himself was still alive and kicking.
This was surely a miracle and Roland could not believe just how amazing his dog was. The farmer thought he had condemned Odin and the goats to the fate of the fire, but thanks to the dog’s wits, they survived.
Picking up extras
As if rescuing his herd from the deadly fire wasn’t enough, Odin also managed to help other animals too. When Roland discovered Odin, the dog was sheltering several deer who must have looked to Odin as their savior.
It was a miracle that Odin alone survived, let alone all of the goats and now deer he was protecting. Odin’s dedication to helping other animals deserves a medal as he had been amazingly brave in the face of such a terrifying danger.
Sticking to his duty
Roland and his family were prepared to take their cats and dogs with them away from the fire, but Odin refused to go. When the farmer was leaving the fire was not far away, and there were propane tanks exploding all over the place.
Despite the scary environment, Odin refused to leave the bottle-fed goats he was responsible for. The farmer realized that Odin wasn’t going to budge, so he had no choice but to leave his dog behind to fight against the elements.
No time to pack
The farmer wrote a social media post and claimed that at 10:30 that morning they first smelled smoke for the Tubbs fire and by 11:00 the sky was orange. The first signs of the fire reaching them came at 11:10 as the flames became visible and Roland knew he had to leave.
As soon as he sensed the fire, he made sure his family was up and ready to leave. There wasn’t much time, and they basically left their home with nothing but what was in their pockets.
Roland also claimed that getting Odin to leave the goats was a chore at the best of times. He shares the responsibility of looking after them with his sister Tessa, and while she looks after them during the day, Odin pulls the night shift.
As soon as the blaze approached the farm, Odin seemed to be able to sense the threat and immediately became defensive of his goats. Roland knew the body language and realized that there was no chance Odin would leave with the rest of the family.
How did the goats fare?
Odin was in charge of eight goats, and Roland said that when they returned, eight happy goats came charging at them. They weren’t angry, and all they wanted from the farmer’s family were some cuddles.
Roland said that one goat, Dixon, had a burn on its back the size of a nickel, but other than that the entire herd was unharmed. Odin had done an amazing job in protecting his goats, and the fact he adopted a couple of deer at the same time says a lot about his mentality.
Separation from his sister
While Odin was busy looking after the goats, Roland believed his dog must have thought his sister had perished in the flames. The farmer admitted it was going to be a joyful sight when the two canine siblings were reunited after several days apart.
Tessa had been cooperative enough to leave the goats and her brother behind in the fire. The bond they shared was thankfully not broken as Tessa and Odin would once again be able to share their goat-herding duties.
As soon as Roland realized his dog and goats were alive, he made sure to bring them food and water. He dropped off several bales of grass for the goats to eat since their precious food source had burned in the fire.
Unfortunately, Roland was unable to take the goats with him to where they were staying, so he had to leave them behind once again with Odin. The dog had done amazingly well, but he was going to have to pull one last night shift before things could get better.
Not out of the woods
While the fire might have passed through, things were not okay on the farm. Since the fire, Odin had a limp, and that would need looking at by a vet. Amazingly the animals had only suffered minor injuries, but the threat of the fire starting back up again was very real.
It was a risk to leave the animals on the farm once more, but Roland didn’t have much of a choice. He vowed that would return the next day with a nice surprise for Odin.
Roland risked everything to get back onto the farm as soon as he could, and once he got there, there wasn’t much left. He noted that there was over $1 million worth of damage, but that was not what Roland cared about.
The farmer said that the only thing he cared about was the safety of his animals and the rest of the stuff on his property could be replaced. Thankfully for Roland, his animals were alive and well, but he still needed to find somewhere to put them.
As he had no possessions to sell, Roland set up a YouCaring fundraising page to help raise money to find a shelter for his goats and his dogs. The temporary accommodation the farmer had retreated to didn’t let him keep his animals, so he had to find somewhere safe to put them.
They couldn’t live on his scorched farm forever. Not long after setting the page up the donations came rolling in and Roland had managed at raise over $40,000.
Returning the next day
Odin had one last night shift to complete, and the next day Roland returned to his farm with Tessa. Then Roland had the tough task of figuring out what to do with his animals.
That’s when he decided to set up the crowdfunding page to make sure his animals had somewhere to go while he worked hard on rebuilding his farm. With the money raised Roland planned to restore the pump house so his animals had access to water and he was going to build a new barn.
Thanks to the cash raised by generous strangers, Oding, Tessa, and the goats all had a shelter they could stay at. Roland went to visit his animals and was happy that they were getting the care they needed.
The animals were safe in their shelter, and Roland made every effort to rebuild his barn before winter. Roland was praying that he would be able to rebuild his farm quickly so that they could all return home to make sure Odin’s efforts hadn’t been in vain.
Roland wrote on YouCaring that it wasn’t until they had lost everything that they realized what was most important to them in life. Straight after the fire, the only concern that Roland has was to make sure his animal family got the care and attention they needed.
It had been a traumatic time for everyone and all of the animals, but if they could pull through together, it would mean a lot. The donations flooded in as people wanted Odin’s bravery to be appreciated.
Making a difference
The YouCare fundraising page brought in more cash than the farmer and his family were expecting. The farmer pledged to use any of the extra money raised to a good cause once his farm had been rebuilt.
For every $1 left over from the fund, he said he would give half to the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue center in honor of the deer that Odin saved. The other half of each dollar would go on replacing Odin and the goat’s trailer. Slowly but surely, things were getting back on track.
Reunited at last!
Finally, the rebuilding of the farm was done, and it was time for Odin, Tessa, and the goats to return home. All of the hard work had been worth it, and the bravery Odin showed had paid off.
Not only had he been able to keep the goats safe during the fire, but his story inspired others to give donations to help rebuild the farm. It seems as though Odin is not a man’s best friend but a goat’s, and we’re sure they’re all grateful for having their backs.