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Odin, Dog Hero of the Fires

Odin, Dog Hero of the Fires


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  • Based on a heartwarming true story, in which Odin, named after a revered Norse god, lived up to his namesake during the Tubbs fire 2017 in Northern California.
  • Excellent choice for animal lovers – especially fans of dogs and goats.
  • Portrays positive character traits of compassion and persistence, and can help evoke feelings of empathy.
  • Because the topic of wildfires is perennial and not geographically limited, the book will resonate outside its setting. There are an average of 75,000 wildfires annually in the continental US with an average burn of 100 acres.
  • Author is a children's librarian and professional writer.
  • Author visited Odin's owner to more fully visualize the location, and also to get the story in detail, in person.
  • Author’s credits include many magazines, websites and several nonfiction books.
  • Author writes a monthly kids' book feature for the Red Tricycle and blogs about children's books at emmaskidsbooks.wordpress.com
  • Her first book, Journey, based on the true story of OR7, the most famous wolf in the west, tells the remarkable story of OR7, the Oregon wolf who famously traveled to California in 2011. Emma received the Cook Prize for the book as well as the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA).
  • Includes in-depth author note, additional information on Great Pyrenees dogs, and book guide will be available.
  • Easy for stores to pair with Great Pyrenees merchandise and plush toys.
  • Lexile: 510L. Fountas and Pinnell level: N.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781513262949
Publisher: West Margin Press
Publication date: 06/30/2020
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)
Lexile: 510L (what's this?)
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

About the Author

Emma Bland Smith is formerly a French teacher and magazine editor and currently a writer and librarian, as well as Girl Scout volunteer and passionate gardener. She started writing picture books when her kids were young. Emma lives with her husband and two kids in San Francisco, California.

Carrie Salazar is an artist, illustrator, and storyteller. A daughter of immigrants, Carrie grew up in southeastern Louisiana and finds inspiration for her art from dreams, history, people, events, and her childhood in the rural south. She draws and paints from her home in Berkeley, California.


"During the night of October 8, 2017, dry and windy conditions in Northern California sparked a number of devastating wildfires. Over the next several weeks, these fires consumed 245,000 acres and 8,900 structures. They also killed at least 43 people—and countless animals.

My family and I spent the day of October 9 fleeing the fires. That morning at 5am, while staying at a friend’s home in rural Lake County, we gazed in horror at an orange sky on the horizon. It took us many hours to make the short drive home to San Francisco, as thousands of evacuees also fled the affected areas.

The Tubbs Fire raged in Sonoma and Napa Counties and was one of the most destructive wildfires in California history. Because of its speed, people in its path were forced to evacuate suddenly. The Hendel family, owners of a small ranch in between the towns of Santa Rosa and Calistoga, were no exception. Around 10:30pm Roland Hendel spotted the approaching fire from his rooftop. Roland, Ariel, and several friends fled for safety with no time to grab anything but their pets.

Odin and Tessa were two Great Pyrenees dogs that the family kept as pets and to guard their eight young goats. The goats were only six months old at the time. Roland had bought them for $4 each at a farm auction, when they were only hours old. He and Ariel bottle fed them until they were able to graze. At the time of the fire, the dogs were one and a half years old, still almost puppies, but their sense of duty ran deep. They took turns guarding the goats and never wavered in their devotion.

Odin was on shepherd duty when the fire approached and refused to leave his post despite the family’s desperate attempts to get him into the car. When the Hendel family escaped, they cried for Odin and the goats. Roland thought he would never see them alive again.

Two days later, Roland snuck past roadblocks to return to their property. He had little hope any of the animals had survived, so he came alone, not wanting to upset Ariel. He was sad but not surprised to find their beautiful home burned to the ground. He was very surprised to see Odin’s tail wagging from behind a big cluster of boulders. Then he spotted the goats—all eight of them—plus several fawns, as well.

Miraculously, Odin had no injuries except for melted whiskers and burnt paws. The goats were in good health, too. Roland burst into tears. He remembers that Odin seemed enormously proud of his accomplishment. He refused food, wanting simply to lie at his owner’s feet and bask in his attention. Roland brought Ariel and Tessa back the next day so the whole family could be reunited.

We will never know exactly what happened during those harrowing few days. But one thing is certain: Odin was a true hero."

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