Video of dog leading Alaska Trooper to fire

I like stories about fires, and I like stories about dogs. But when you combine them into ONE story, it just does not get any better. You have to be tough, intelligent, and resourceful to live in the remote areas of Alaska, and Buddy, a German shepherd, belonging to Ben Heinrichs, proved he qualified for that description when a fire broke out at their property at Caswell Lakes about 50 miles north of Anchorage on April 4, 2010.

Buddy and Ben were in the family’s shop when a heater ignited some chemicals the 23-year old was working with, causing flash burns on Ben and igniting his clothing. He exited the shop, closing the door as he left, and extinguished the flames on his body. Then realizing Buddy was still inside, went back and let him out. Then he said to Buddy, “Buddy, we need to get help”, much like Timmy would say, “Lassie, go get help”.

I’ll let the Anchorage Daily News take it from here:


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. 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.

“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.


Thankfully, the trooper’s dash cam captured Buddy leading him to the fire.

And here is what Lassie should NOT do in a similar situation.

Tired of videos yet? HERE’s a link to “Super Lassie”.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.