The incredible true story of one dog’s heroic feats during the 2017 Tubbs Fire, one of the most destructive wildfires in California history.
One October night in 2017, when wildfire raged in Sonoma and Napa counties, the Hendel family was suddenly evacuated from their homes and farms to escape to safety and forced to leave behind their Pyrenees dog, Odin. Odin refused to leave his nightly post of guarding the family’s eight young goats, despite the family’s desperate attempts to lead him away. Brokenhearted, the Hendels were sure they would never see their dog again.
But when the fire calmed and the family returned home, to their shock they found Odin singed yet safe, along with all the goats and several orphaned deer the dog had protected as well. Odin, Dog Hero of the Fires is a touching and inspirational true tale that honors the bravery and strength of Odin as well as commemorates the stories of those affected by the Tubbs Fire.
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 peopleand 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 goatsall eight of themplus 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."