The world is a scary place, and natural disasters can happen any time, changing our lives forever. It’s easy to lose hope when something horrible happens, especially when we lose our loved ones, including our dogs. While it may seem like all is lost, sometimes we can find a spark of comfort in the stories of survivors and heroes that, despite all odds, pull through and let us know that good things can still happen. These survival stories can inspire us to keep searching, to donate or support a cause, to get involved, and most importantly, to keep hoping. Here are the stories of eight survivor dogs that made it through horrific natural disasters and kept hope alive for those that were suffering.
1. Odin Saves His Goats From Wildfire
When the California wildfires in 2017 approached the Hendel household, there was very little time to escape. Roland Hendel knew he had to act quickly, so he rushed his family into the car along with three of their dogs and two cats. The only pup left was Odin the Great Pyrenees, who would watch the Hendels’ eight goats each night and protect them from coyotes and mountain lions. When Roland tried to get Odin into the car, the dog refused to budge and leave his goats behind. So the Hendels made the difficult choice to flee as time was running out. They left the gate open for the animals to escape and drove away, cars bursting into flames and radio towers collapsing behind them.
When the fires finally died down, Roland returned home. Everything was gone, but in the midst of the destruction was Odin and his eight goats, all waiting safely for the Hendels to return. He had apparently led the goats to a safe outcropping. Not only that, but several deer had gathered around the pup for protection, too. Odin’s paws were a little burned and his fur was singed orange, but he was otherwise doing just fine.
Odin’s story gave hope to people still waiting to hear from loved ones and joy to the Hendel family who were happy to have the one thing they couldn’t replace returned safely. Later, Odin’s story would inspire people to contribute to a fundraiser for the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Center after the devastating fires, as well as helping the Hendel family rebuild their home. The Hendels were overwhelmed by the support they received, and they have Odin to thank for it.
2. Puppies Buried In An Avalanche For Five Days Survive
When an avalanche hit the Hotel Rigopiano in Central Italy, the building was buried under 16 feet of snow. Over the course of the next few days, rescue workers would dig out and save eleven people, but around the fifth day, hope was dwindling. That’s when the workers heard quiet barks coming from a hole that they had dug in one of the walls. It turned out to be the barks of three resident Abruzzo sheepdog puppies.
News of the puppies’ rescue spread around the world and gave people hope that more survivors might be found. Unfortunately, the 29 people that were still unaccounted for would not come out of the wreckage alive, but the puppies’s story reminds us to never give up, even when it seems like nothing good can happen. If they can survive beyond what rescuers thought was possible, then there can still be hope that others might survive, too.
3. Otis Steps Out For Dog Food During Hurricane
Hurricane Harvey wreaked devastation on Texas and separated many families and loved ones, leaving people feeling helpless in its wake. Otis, a 10-year-old dog, managed to break the screen door of his home and escaped during the worst part of the storm. His owner feared that Otis was lost forever, swept away by the hurricane, and he dreaded telling his grandson that the beloved dog was gone.
Otis, however, was a survivor. He was caught on camera the next day trotting along with a bag of dog food in his mouth. Shortly after, he showed up back at home. Apparently he had just gone looking for the essentials and wanted to stock up on supplies. He took the bag from a lumberyard that he liked to visit, and the workers there kept the bag handy so they could feed the pup when he came by. He knew where they kept the bag, so he snagged it when there was no one around to give him a handout.
The photo of Otis walking away with his bag of food went viral, and besides giving people a much needed smile in a time of terror, Otis also filled people with hope. He stood as a symbol for survival and for pulling through with resourcefulness and grit.
4. Lucky Lives Up To His Name In A Flash Flood
Brandon West and his dog Lucky were out enjoying the day and swimming in Payson, Arizona when a torrent of black water and broken trees rushed toward them. West put Lucky on his shoulders and tried to wade to safety, but the current was too strong, and it swept them over three waterfalls. West couldn’t hold onto Lucky anymore, and the water tore the two away from each other.
Fortunately, West was able to climb onto a rock and managed to get out of the water. Somehow, against all odds, Lucky found a way to climb out of the flood waters, too. The flood would claim the lives of nine people, but these two were happy to be alive and reunited. They show that even when all hope is lost, sometimes miracles happen.
5. Ban Survives A Tsunami And Three Weeks At Sea
The tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 swept people, property, and pets out to see as the waters receded, leading to a massive search and rescue effort by the Japanese Coast Guard. You wouldn’t think it would be likely that they’d find survivors three weeks after the disaster, but a dog named Ban shocked everyone when he was spotted drifting on the roof of a house a little over a mile offshore.
The Coast Guard caught the pup and brought him in. Ban’s owner saw him on television and recognized him right away. The two were reunited, and Ban’s story spread around the world. It showed that even though much time had passed, there was still hope for finding survivors. If a dog could live through a tsunami and three weeks at sea, maybe others could survive, too.
6. Bowser Emerges From The Tornado Rubble On Television
Moore, Oklahoma was ripped apart by a tornado in 2013, and Barbara Garcia was one of the residents who lost their homes. When the storm was approaching, Garcia hid with her dog, a Schnauzer named Bowser, in a bathroom, but the home was in the direct path of the tornado. It was destroyed, and Bowser was pulled away in the chaos.
Garcia was lucky to survive, and CBS News interviewed her in the wreckage of her home. As they were talking, one of the news team members on the seen noticed something moving in the rubble. It was Bowser, who had been trapped, but emerged without any major injuries. Garcia was so grateful to have her beloved dog back, and the amazing video of her reunion with Bowser went viral. People across the country were touched by their story and donated to help Garcia, who didn’t have insurance, rebuild her home. Garcia was moved by all the good people who helped her, and Bowser’s story reminds us that even when we think we’ve lost everything, the ones we love are still the most important things in our lives.
7. Tinkerbell Survives The Mudslide
A retired couple in Camarillo Springs, California went to bed one night in 2014 only to be awoken by a rumbling noise. The sound grew louder, and when Henry Needham got out of bed to investigate, he found that he was standing in water and mud that had soaked through the carpet. When he looked back to his wife, he was shocked to see her carried away by a mudslide that tossed her out of the home and into the driveway. The couple were alive, but they couldn’t find their Dachshund, Tinkerbell. They believed that she had been swept away and drowned.
Only a day later, a neighbor called the fire department and reported that they could see a dog barking in the window of the mud-flooded home. It was Tinkerbell. Firefighters from Ventura County Fire Department showed up on the scene and pulled the dog from the wreckage. Cheers erupted at the Ventura County Fire Communications Center when they heard the dog was safe. Tinkerbell was a little muddy, but otherwise in good health. The firefighters needed a win after all of the devastation, and Tinkerbell’s story of survival helped them keep hope and reminded them that they do great work that reunites families and saves loved ones in their darkest hours.
8. The Crowd Cheers A Dog Pulled From Earthquake Destruction
A major earthquake rocked Mexico City in 2017, causing buildings to collapse and killing many people. It was a time of confusion and fear, and many were losing hope of finding their friends and families alive. But even in the midst of all the death and destruction, volunteers were out in full force, working with rescue crews to look through the rubble to find survivors.
These brave people managed to find a Golden Retriever and pulled her out of the ruins to a crowd of people that needed a sign of hope. They cheered as the pup was lifted to safety. The dog served as a sign that they needed to keep working to find those who were trapped, and that their efforts were not in vain. Six days after the quake, another rescue team would pull a Schnauzer from the rubble while search and rescue dogs aided human teams in looking for survivors. Dogs provided hope in many ways to the victims of the earthquake, and they won’t soon be forgotten.
Has a dog’s story of survival ever given you hope? Have you heard of any other stories of dogs making it through natural disasters? Let us know in the comments below!