My dear friend Carol Trent wrote me last week to say that she and her daughter, Julie, 11, enjoy reading about animals on this blog, so I think I have a great one that they, and other readers, will like.
In recent weeks we heard from Walker, another reader who told us how Spike, the puppy rescued from a dumpster, has added to his life in extraordinary ways.
I have another story that shows once again how animals share the same connection to life that we humans purport to embrace.
If you've heard this story, that's OK. I think it needs repeating.
Buddy is a German shepherd who lives in the woods near Anchorage, Alaska, with his owner, 23-year-old Ben Heinrichs. Ben was working in his garage on April 4, 2010, when an electric heater (it's cold up there, even in April) set paint cleaner blazing. The flames caught Ben's shirt, arm and chest on fire, and Buddy, who Ben describes as skittish, started to freak out. Ben ran outside and dove into the snow to put himself out, with Buddy circling him and whining.
Here's the part I love. Ben says he told Buddy, "We need to get help."
The dog then dashed into the dark and down the long driveway like a bat out of hell.
Switch to an Alaska State Trooper's dash camera a good distance from the burning house as it records his cruiser's headlight beams on a dark, wooded road. At a snowbanked intersection, a German shepherd suddenly leaps into the road, barking like a nut. It then breaks into a run down the middle of the road to the left, and the cruiser turns to follow. At each new intersection, Buddy guides the cruiser, repeatedly looking back to urge the trooper on. On and on the dog runs, with the trooper following. The dog cuts left into another road, hanging back to make sure the car makes the turn.
Buddy is clearly signaling the trooper to follow in several ways. First, it keeps looking back with urgency; second, when the trooper slows, the dog slows; and third, when the dog makes a turn, it waits for the trooper to make the turn.
At the bottom of the home's driveway, Buddy breaks into an even faster run toward towering flames that can clearly be seen in the cruiser's video. The trooper told reporters that Buddy came around to his driver's side door as the trooper exited. The dog nuzzled the trooper's hand as if to make him hurry to the house.
Once the trooper began to interview Ben, Buddy ran back into the darkness and met firetrucks far from the house to lead them in, the trooper reported. Both the trooper and the firefighters were responding to the blaze already, but Buddy made sure they didn't get lost.
Ben wasn't injured badly and the trooper made arrangements to honor Buddy with a ceremony and a silver food dish emblazoned with the Alaska State Police seal.