He walked with them, carefully picking his way through the flames, making sure they were safe. The eight goats — who had all been raised by hand — were not prepared for the fire that tore through Sonoma County.

Odin had been bred to protect his charges from harm, but that threat was supposed to be in the form of other creatures. Coyotes, mountain lions, even bears — not a fiery maelstrom.

And yet here he was, sheltering his little herd from something even humans were helpless to guard them from. His once creamy coat was now singed and discolored, his whiskers melted into crimped, burnt-ended stubs.

When the fire had started getting too close to the home, Odin’s owner, Roland Hendel, and Scott, Stephen, and Ariel who also lived there, had tried to call the Great Pyrenees and whisk him to safety. Used to protecting the goats with a calm insistence and making decisions based on the independent thinking so characteristic of the breed, he stubbornly refused to leave his watch.

After rounding up other critters, and with the fire quickly bearing down on them and forcing them to leave before it blocked off escape, Roland later wrote that “We got out with our lives and what was in our pockets.”

Video of what the surrounding area looked like is absolutely terrifying. It’s difficult to believe that any living thing could make it through such a hellish onslaught.

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