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

October 15, 2017 - 11:56 am

(SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA) -- Roland Hendel and his family had just moments to escape the firestorm bearing down on their Sonoma County home.

But despite "exploding propane tanks, twisting metal, and the hot swirling winds," one of their beloved dogs refused to come with them. Instead, Odin, a Great Pyrenees, stayed with the family's eight "bottle-fed rescue goats" as the family and Odin's sister Tessa fled.

Hendel and his family were certain Odin and the goats were gone.

"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."

Days later, when it was safe for the Hendels to return to their charred home, they found "a burned, battered, and weakened Odin surrounded by his eight goats, and several small deer who had come to him for protection and safety," Hendel wrote.

Odin's now on the mend after his ordeal, but challenges remain for the Hendel family.

The blazes engulfing the area are among the deadliest in the state's history according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, charring more than 214,000 acres, forcing 100,000 residents to evacuate and damaging or destroying at least 5,700 homes and businesses -- including the Hendel's property.

All of the family's structures "were decimated, including the barn we had lovingly rebuilt," and the pumphouse, meaning no shelter or fresh water supply for the animals.

The Hendels are now racing to rebuild before winter hits so that Odin’s “bravery and sacrifice are not in vain.”

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