Friday, April 23, 2010

Alaskan Hero Dog Shows Troopers The Way To Fire

I was slack-jawed as I watched this video of Buddy, a German Shepherd as he led an Alaska State Trooper through winding back roads to a fire at his residence. Best friend indeed.

The Alaska State Troopers have issued the following press release:

German Shepherds were bred for intelligence to protect sheep flocks from predators. They are revered for their loyalty and renowned to be sensitive to people's emotions. While a collie named Lassie may be best known as a dog hero for the saying "Lassie, go get help," Buddy carried on the tradition set by German Shepherds Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin when he went to get help after his owners' Caswell Lakes property caught on fire on April 4, 2010.

Like usual, Buddy was beside his human companion, Ben Heinrichs, who was working in the family's shop. A heater ignited chemicals the 23-year-old was working with, giving Ben flash burns to his face. The flames quickly grew as Ben escaped the shop. However, Buddy was briefly entrapped inside the burning shed when Ben shut the shop door behind him to keep the flames from spreading. After extinguishing the flames on his body, Ben immediately realized his dog was still inside the shed and went back in to let Buddy out. After Buddy exited the shed, Ben said to him, "Buddy, we need to get help."

Buddy headed for the woods, but not to hide as his owners expected the shy dog to do. Instead he ran to Caswell Loop Road where he eventually found help.

Alaska State Trooper Terrence Shanigan was struggling with finding the fire in the Caswell Lakes area outside Willow, which has approximately 75 miles of back roads. He had just received a frantic phone message calling for help left by neighbors of the Heinrichs who are members of the local neighborhood watch program. Shanigan's global positioning device froze up on him and dispatch was trying to pinpoint the address among the maze of neighborhood back roads. He was planning on taking a turn that would send him the long way around the neighborhood when Buddy appeared as a shadow at the edge of Shanigan's moose lights on his patrol vehicle. 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 Shanigan's 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. Afterwards, 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.

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

Because of this, Buddy will be presented an award at 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 23 at the Alaska State Troopers Headquarters building at 5700 E. Tudor Road in Anchorage. Buddy and his owners, Lynnette and Thomas Heinrich and their son, Ben, will be given the award with much appreciation from Alaska State Troopers. AST Director Col. Audie Holloway and Trooper Terrence Shanigan, who works out of the Talkeetna post, will be present as well.



  1. I was slack jawed as I watched this video! Buddy is really an amazing dog & obviously really loves his owners. Good Dog Buddy!!

  2. I'm assuming they found Buddy after the fire was put out! Now what would Nigel do? Probably car jack the fire truck and cruise downtown for chicks with an open can of Bugweiser on the front seat.

  3. Theresa5:57 AM

    What an amazing dog!

  4. I'm speechless! I wonder if any of my dogs are this smart. Or would they grab a bag of marshmallows? Seriously, though...

  5. Dogs are very smart, but it has to be admitted that GSDs can be kind of extra smart. So many successful career oriented dogs are GSDs, too. I don't know if they're MENSA dogs like Border Collies, but they might be. Blog Mom wants to know if anyone else is old enough to remember when a lot of guide dogs were GSDs. Now it's mostly Labradogs and Golden Relievers, but when she was a little girl - about 250 years ago, she said it seemed to be mostly German Shepherds.

    wags, Lola

  6. Thank you for sharing this amazing left me speechless and trust me that doesn't happen often with a Southern Gal....
    I was raised with a Boxer Bull named Duke. Oh my word the stories of protection I could tell you. Duke took his job seriously. When I was out playing Duke was the ultimate nanny and so good with all the children in the neighborhood...but a stranger was not welcomed in the yard.
    Madi and Mom

  7. That is just an awesome story! My dogs would be waiting for someone to put them in a warm car or bed, cover them with blankets and fuss over their cuteness!

  8. I think that dogs are much much smarter than we tend to think that they are. The only problem is communication... but Buddy somehow solved that one, leading that trooper to his house. What a story and video!!!

  9. Speechless. THat is so amazing. Not only did Buddy know what to do, but the trooper knew to follow him.

    Mango Momma

  10. Gives me chicken skin - amazing!

  11. Oh Buddy - you tug at my heartstrings... what an lifesaver (and house-saver) you are. Bravo and... well... just amazing.

  12. We are speechless too! Amazing! We had a GSD for fourteen years when our kids were small - she was very clever and more human than canine it has to be said - we don't think she would have been quite that smart though!

  13. Anonymous10:40 AM


  14. This video made me cry, but I've been doing that a lot lately...I'll blame it on the anesthesia, or maybe I miss my appendix-chuckle!
    Thanks for sharing and happy weekend, my friend!

  15. Wow. Such a great dog story. Growing up in Montana, our dogs "alerted" us to many things and we didn't realize it as odd because it was just the way of the ranch. We just followed their alert.

    As urban life takes over we the people tend to ignore the things our dogs just know and go on above them.

    Buddy you rock. Great job. A great job on the guy who followed him and did not ignore the lead!

  16. What a remarkable dog. I'm so glad he will get an award although it will mean nothing unless there is hamburger involved. However, awards show humans how important dogs are to our lives.

  17. amazing, absolutely amazing....but not surprising in the least. Dogs are truly kindred souls.

  18. THAT is inkhredible!

    How khool to see such khanine intelligence!

    Mom is murmuring something about me running here and there and there and here - not sure what she means by that!

    Thanks furry much fur sharing Buddy's heroikh deeds!


  19. Thanks for sharing this...brought tears to my eyes. Good boy Buddy!

  20. Any dog named Buddy has to be super right?

  21. Anonymous3:33 PM

    I have to say "Well Done" To both Buddy & Trooper Shanigan. I totally believe in the "smarts" of our dogs. I am so thankful that the trooper listened to his gut instinct! Smart man! This is a wonderful story for all of us to see! Thank you for sharing.

  22. I loved watching the video of Buddy! You can always count on dogs!

  23. I watched and read in amazement. My husband saw it on the news - absolutely amazing what our canines are capable of doing.

  24. That is just pawesome. What a great video. Buddy, way to go!!!

    Teddy Bear

  25. Just saw this on the news in PA. OMG!!!! Amazing!! I wonder if Stella could do that?

  26. A great story. If it were us, we would have just laughed and pointed. Heck! We might have started the fire...Arooooroooroo.


    Oz and ZOzo

    PS: Just kidding

  27. amazing, amazing, amazing... how could anyone not love dogs?