SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — With the deadly flames of the Tubbs Fire bearing down on his property, Roland Tembo Hendel knew it was time to round up his family, dogs and cats flee.

But there simply was no room for the family’s flock of goats.

“By 11:10 we could see the first of the flames across the valley,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “By 11:15 they were growing larger and the winds went mad. We had loaded up the dogs and cats, but Odin, our stubborn and fearless Great Pyrenees would not leave the goats.”

Odin — living up to the Norse god he is named after — would not abandon the flock.

So the family reluctantly and with heavy hearts, watched Odin was they were departing, hoping they would see him again but knowing it was likely he would not survive.

“Even under the best of circumstances it is nearly impossible to separate Odin from the goats after nightfall when he takes over the close watch from his sister Tessa,” Hendel wrote. “I made a decision to leave him, and I doubt I could have made him come with us if I tried.”

The escape proved harrowing as the fire erupted along Mark West Springs Road. The journey through the flames would prove deadly for one of Hendel’s neighbors — Lynne Powell — but his family finally reached safety.

“Cars behind us on Mark West Springs Road were pouring flames out of the windows as they roared down the road,” he wrote on Facebook. “Later that morning when we had outrun the fires I cried, sure that I had sentenced Odie to death, along with our precious family of bottle-raised goats.”


After the fire subsided enough for the Hendel family to return to their burned out home, they braced for the worst.

“We were able to make it back to the smoldering wasteland of our forest,” Hendel wrote on Facebook. “Every structure is in ruins. Trees are still burning.”

But suddenly, the goats appeared and raced toward the family. And there was Odin — fur burned, whiskers melted, limping on his right leg. The battle injuries suffered in his desperate fight with the flames.

During the firestorm Odin not only protected his flock, he also seems to have adopted several baby deer who were huddled around him for safety.

“Odin has lived up to his namesake,” Hendel wrote. “Pray for him and his charges. He is our inspiration. If he can be so fearless in this maelstrom, surely so can we.”

Like many evacuees, Odin, Tessa and their goats were spending Sunday in a evacuation center — the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

The family set up a funding site to help pay for Odin’s medical care —

Comments (48)
  1. Dumbell owners. You put a slip lead on the dog, drag him to the car and shove him in. What is so difficult about *that*.

    1. You know nothing about Guardian Livestock Dogs. Here be educated and you will not make uneducated comments in the future;

  2. Never ever abandon your dog. These people are fools, and it is a miracle the dog survived.

  3. That’s classic Great Pyrennes instinct. As far as “never leave your dog” goes, did you think that possibly they were in a rush and didn’t have time to find their “slip lead”? That possibly the fire went in their direction very quickly. Have you ever tried to get a 140 lb. dog to go somewhere he didn’t want to go and was determined not to? Try dragging that much dead weight however many yards by the neck….nearly impossible if he doesn’t cooperate and a Great Pyr in that situation isn’t going to leave his animals…no way, no how.

  4. Story made me cry…I could never leave my animals. What a great dog!

  5. the sheep were just money the dog just a tool and they us his dedication to raise money, disgusting people, it never occurred to prepare ahead of time, load them in a trailer, get out , they were probably too busy saving Grandma’s china, people helping them out care more for the dog than they do

  6. Mark Bondar says:

    Just saying, this story has at least 10 errors in it…what happened to an editor?

    1. Jeff Montana says:

      Accuracy in journalism is no longer a priority.

    2. The editor is obviously a product of our liberal university system.

  7. SO, have they found the cause of the fires yet? Spain is saying their fires are an act of terrorism.

    Wonder what that really means – are they implying Islamic arson?

    The word “terror” has been over used and fails to be descriptive in many ways.

  8. Supposedly, media is reporting that Mexican drug cartels have started fires in California in order to burn out the legal US marijuana growers that are cutting into their profits.

  9. The owners of Odin should be charged for abandoning him to the fire. Odin is a hero himself, but why any owner would EVER abandon their dog is just incomprehensible to me. I would NEVER leave my dog to face a raging fire; he would be with me when I left no mater what.

  10. Bill Smith says:

    I love dogs, and dogs love me. I consider it a positive character trait.

  11. There was a time when dogs were more than the coddled, pampered, spoiled animals they have mostly become in our lethargic society. They stood with mankind as trusted companions against the creatures that ruled the darkness beyond the firelight. There was a time when our society understood concepts like honor, courage, and duty. Odin gets it. He refused to leave his herd. He was the night shepherd, his was not the easy shift. Because of his courage, he led his goats to safety, even saving some deer along the way. He did not desert his post, and his Owner trusted that Odin knew what he was doing. This is a great story, humans do not deserve dogs.

  12. Walker Price says:

    Because Dog is God spelled backwards.

  13. Robert Cat says:

    I have large Rotts that I can’t physically force to do anything. They would, however, load up in the car during an emergency if I was screaming at them to do so. It’s horrible they left Odin like that to burn to death. Shame on all the pet owners who left their pets to die.

    1. The needs of the many (goats and deers) outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

  14. Dogs are amazing, and damn those that abuse them.

  15. It’s disappointing and sad to see so many people willing to criticize the actions of others in a genuine right now life-or-death emergency. Our own rule of thumb is we only have dogs we can carry but ours are PETS and far too small to be flock guardians. I GUARANTEE you that if your 140# flock guardian decides the flock is in danger and he shouldn’t leave, you’re not going to make it happen while he’s alive and conscious.

    Robert C. (and others): Every breed is different and in particular a well-bred Rott WOULD obey you in an emergency. Flock guardians are bred and raised to protect the flock: They may not necessarily consider your orders as taking priority. They are designed and equipped to fight off predators: Do you want to get into a discussion with140 pounds of muscle and tooth about that as the flames roar toward you?

    Other people didn’t have time to fetch/evacuate pets. Is it truly better for a human to risk death, even perhaps the death of his entire family in order to attempt to rescue a pet? Surely this is a case where we ought not criticize without walking a mile in those moccasins.

    The dog’s a hero. Can we not just admire that without attacking people who faced a situation most of us never will?

    1. Are you from Denver, & do you have sisters with names of Patricia, Michelle, the late Anita? If you do, it is a small world indeed.

  16. One of the worst written stories I’ve read in a loooong time! Absolutely horrible.

  17. So why aren’t the many many tech millionaires and tech billionaires in the Silicon Valley help out. Why should they have to do GoFundMe to get the help for their dog.

  18. That dog is an example of what Jerry Brown and left legislature should live up to!
    I’m surprised animal control didn’t want to destroy the dog!

  19. I have over a dozen cats and dogs, some don’t respond to commands very well,
    I’ve wondered how I’d get them all out in an emergency, don’t tell animal control,
    they’d kill the ones over the legal limit!

  20. First of all Great Pyrenees Dogs are not herding dogs. Not even close. They are Guardian Livestock Dogs and will protect their property, livestock, and humans to the death. Second of all for all the ignorant people up here on this board, let me educate you about the Napa fires. There were 17 fires started in less than two hours in the middle of the night with very high winds. Much like the fires in the Oakland hills years ago they had no time to pack up and leave – they left with what they could – Having Pyrenees dogs for over 30 years it would have been extremely difficult to Odin to leave his charges. He would have sensed the danger with the fire and would have not been caught. Great Pyrenees dogs have selected hearing and they will be stubborn and make their own decisions. My Pyrs would never come to me the first time I called – they would usually wait until the third or fourth time – when they decided it was good for them to come to me. These dogs think on their own – they have to – So here is some education for the people posting on this board and the person who wrote this article about Great Pyrenees Dogs – please watch and be educated:

  21. billgjohnson says:

    God that was a poorly written article, the writer (if you can call he or she that) can not write, does NOT know words, phrases etc and has a very poor handle on english.

  22. He’s a Great Pyrenees. They are from Aragon & Navarra originally. It’s his Spanishness that shows. The name does not impart characteristics to him, his breeding does. The same people who resisted Rome for 200 yrs, though woefully outnumbered, & with inferior ‘technology. Even after defeat Spain gave Rome 2 of her 5 best emperors & almost every writer of Rome’s Golden Age of Literature; The same nation that fought doggedly against islam for 772 years until they were ousted from Europe altogether. The Australian Sheep Dog is also of Spanish origin, also Pyrenees (Basque, Navarra & Aragon). I wish this dog a long & happy, pampered life. He deserves it. I also wish him a happier, better life in his future re-incarnation, which he has surely earned. Praise God for giving us such wonderful creatures like Dogs & Cats to keep us company and more.

  23. Sukie Tawdry says:

    Dear cbslocal: Why must you insist on moving your videos which I am not interested in watching down the screen to follow me around and partially obscure the text I am interested in reading? At the very least, readers should have the option to delete the popdown from view. What makes you videos so all-fired important? It’s gotten so annoying that most of the time when I see I’m being linked to a CBS affiliate website, I just skip it altogether.

  24. Hmmmm. Did you hear about the woman who had three horses and a horse trailer for only two? She put the third horse in the back of her car. Hmmmmmm.