Video: Hero Dog Leads Alaska Officer to Fire

This story will set your heart ablaze. Ben Heinrichs was working in his family's shed with his faithful German shepherd, Buddy, at his side. Being...


Click image above to see (silent) dashcam video of part of Buddy's Lassie/Rin-Tin-Tin-like actions. It's hard to see him at first, but wait a few seconds and he'll be in the trooper's lights.

This story will set your heart ablaze. Ben Heinrichs was working in his family’s shed with his faithful German shepherd, Buddy, at his side. Being Alaska, it was chilly, so he had a heater on. The heater ignited the chemicals Heinrichs was working with, and the shed started blazing. The two eventually got to safety, and the 23-year-old Heinrichs told him, “Buddy, we need to get help,” according to an Alaska State Trooper report.

Buddy ran for the woods. Buddy is a shy dog, so it stood to reason that he was just getting away from a traumatic situation. But it was as if he had understood Heinrichs. Buddy ran a distance to a main road, where he came upon Alaska State Trooper Terrence Shanigan, who was struggling to find the fire after a frantic call from a neighbor. The trooper’s GPS had frozen up, and the area has some 75 miles of back roads. He was working with dispatch and was about to set off in the wrong direction “when Buddy appeared as a shadow at the edge of Shanigans moose lights on his patrol vehicle,” the report said. I’ll let the report take it from here.

When Shanigan approached the intersection, the dog looked at him, and took off running down a side road. Shanigan acted on a hunch that the loose dog was there for a purpose and followed the running dog through three turns that eventually led the Heinrichs property.

Every once in a while during the run back to his home, Buddy looked back at Shanigans car as if to make sure the trooper was following. By the time Shanigan reached the property, the work shop was fully engulfed in flames that also lapped precariously close to the Heinrichs house.

Shanigan said Buddy stopped at the end of the driveway and turned around to wait for him. When Shanigan got out of his parked car, the dog ran around the patrol vehicle and approached him, jumped up and down and nudged him as he walked up the driveway to the burning building. Afterward, Buddy disappeared, presumably into the woods.

Shanigan was then able to verbally guide fire engines from local volunteer fire departments to the Heinrichs home. The work shop was destroyed, and a nearby wood shed was badly burned. However, the Heinrichs home escaped the flames. Only the trim around the kitchen window was damaged by the fire.

Buddys valiant actions saved Trooper Shanigan valuable time in responding to the fire, said AST Director Col. Audie Holloway. Buddys pluckiness is a bright spot among an otherwise tragic event for the Heinrichs family.

Click on the photo above or click here to see the dashcam video of Buddy leading the trooper to the fire. The video is silent, and doesn’t show the entire journey, but it shows Buddy in his heroic form. It’s really quite incredible.

This afternoon, this amazing dog will receive an award at the Alaska State Troopers Headquarters, in Anchorage. I wish I could be there to shake his paw.

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