I just felt like I was being led..
Alaska State Trooper Terrence Shanigan was driving through some dark and winding backroads trying to respond to a call about a fire when his GPS failed. As he tried to figure out where he should turn next, a dog suddenly darted out into the road in front of him.
Shanigan noticed that the dog seemed to look right at him before he took off running. Something inside him told him he needed to follow.
“He wasn’t running from me, but was leading me,” Shanigan said. “I just felt like I was being led … it’s just one of those things that we’re thinking on the same page for that brief moment.”
The trooper closely trailed the dog as he bounded down the snowy roads. As they rounded one more bend, Shanigan saw the reason for the dog’s urgency. The building in front of him was engulfed in flames.
It turned out the dog’s owner, Ben Heinrichs, had been in his workshop working on some parts for his truck when a spark touched some gasoline and ignited, setting his clothes ablaze.
The 23-year-old quickly ran outside, closing the door behind him to stop the flames from spreading, and began to roll in the snow to put the flames out.
It was then that he realized his beloved dog, Buddy, was still in the burning workshop.
Ben ran back inside to rescue Buddy, suffering minor burns to his face and second-degree burns to his left hand. Thankfully, the dog was unharmed.
As Ben watched his workshop go up in flames, it was Buddy’s turn to do the rescuing.
“I said we need to get help, and [Buddy] just took off,” Ben said.
The dog raced down the backroads to find help, and that’s when he saw Shanigan and led him to the scene. Shanigan was then able to help lead firefighters to the right location so they could put the fire out.
Sadly, the workshop was destroyed, but the family’s house survived with only some burns to the window trim.
More importantly, the entire family was safe, largely thanks to Buddy’s bravery and smarts.
“He’s my hero,” Ben said as he choked back tears. “If it wasn’t for him, we would have lost our house.”
The 5-year-old German shepherd’s heroic efforts were recognized in a ceremony put on by the Alaska State Troopers. He received a stainless steel dog bowl engraved with words of appreciation from the troopers for his “diligence and assistance” as well as a big rawhide bone. His family was given a framed letter documenting his heroic efforts.
The Heinrichs say they already knew Buddy was smart and that heroism ran through his veins. His mother was a canine officer and Buddy had already twice chased away bears while Ben was fishing. But his efforts this night blew them all away.
“Downright amazing, I would say,” said Tom Heinrichs, Ben’s father. “Maybe there was some divine intervention.”
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