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Video: Dog leads police to burning building

  1. Closed captioning of: Dog leads police to burning building

    male announcer: family's owner when a fire broke out. buddy's owner told him, "we need him," and buddy ran off.

    >> what happened next is really amazing. a state trooper received a call about the fire but he was lost, he could not find the residence or the address. take a look, buddy runs right out in front of the car, barking, i guess, and convinces the trooper to follow him. not just follow him for 100 yards, but buddy began to run and make turns through these back country roads .

    >> we're talking about alaska here. it is pitch dark, as you can see, except for the headlights on the car. there are lefts, and rights --

    >> the officer's gps froze up. dispatchers couldn't help him.

    >> and look, as you can see, he leads him right to this massive fire.

    >> when he got there, he said, ooh, it was my bad, too. i was playing with matches. but he's in the doghouse right now.

    >> what's really cool is he saved his -- i can't play my sax with allergy congestion. claritin-d helps me breathe in and out. nothing works stronger, faster, or longer to relieve all my symptoms... ...including congestion without drowsiness. get claritin-d at the pharmacy counter.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 4/23/2010 9:12:41 AM ET 2010-04-23T13:12:41

It’s not just people who have to be tough and resourceful to live in Alaska; even the pets have to be made of sterner stuff. After all, those woods are full of bears and wolves and moose.

Enter Buddy, a German shepherd who lives in Caswell Lakes, Alaska, considerably north of Anchorage, with his best friend, a 23-year-old human named Ben Heinrichs, and Ben’s parents, Lynnette and Thomas Heinrichs.

Buddy is the star of a 1-minute video shot on a state trooper’s dashcam, and it’s one of the most amazing things you’ve seen this side of the old “Lassie” and “Rin Tin Tin” TV shows and films. Except this wasn’t a movie, and Buddy wasn’t taking cues from trainers off-camera.

‘Get help’
Ben lives with his family in an area of winding country roads. On April 4, he was working in a workshop in a shed when a heater touched off a fire fueled by chemicals in the shop.

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According to the Anchorage Daily News, Ben, who suffered minor flash burns on his face, fled the shop and slammed the door to confine the flames. Realizing that Buddy was still inside, Ben went back in to rescue his pet.

When he got Buddy outside, he told the dog, “We need to get help.”

That’s pretty much what TV’s Timmy used to say: “Lassie, go get help!” And, like the star collie, Buddy took the advice to heart and took off running.

The Daily News reported that Ben initially thought Buddy may have run off to hide. The dog is rather shy, according to the family.

Instead, Buddy was actually looking for help. The dog dashed off and down the road, looking for someone — anyone — to help.

Lost trooper
Meanwhile, neighbors has seen the fireball erupting on the Heinrichs' property and called the state police. Trooper Terrence Shanigan was dispatched to check it out, but his GPS froze up on him, and he was semi-lost in the twisting rural roads and about to take a turn in the wrong direction when he saw a dog in the road.

The dog was our hero, Buddy. When Buddy saw the trooper’s car, he turned and started running back home.

TODAY
Dashcam footage shows how Buddy led the state trooper, whose GPS was offline, through winding roads to the blaze.
Shanigan’s dashcam caught it all. A German shepherd takes off running down partially snow-covered roads, but keeps looking over his shoulder to make sure the car is keeping up.

Buddy sprints along for about a minute in a black-and-white landscape, the only things visible being what is illuminated by the police car’s lights. Finally, the dog takes one last turn. As Shanigan turns with the dog, his windshield lights up with a bright yellow ball of fire that used to be the Heinrichs’ workshed.

When Shanigan got out of his car, Buddy jumped up and made sure the trooper continued to the house. Then, according to the newspaper, Buddy retreated into the woods, seeing that his work as done.

A hero’s reward
Shanigan was able to guide fire trucks to the scene, in time for firefighters to save the Heinrich’s home. The workshop was a total loss.

TODAY
Thanks to Buddy, firefighters got to the scene in time to save the Heinrichs home.
"Buddy's valiant actions saved Trooper Shanigan valuable time in responding to the fire," the Daily News quotes Alaska State Police Director Col. Audie Holloway as saying. "Buddy's pluckiness is a bright spot among an otherwise tragic event for the Heinrichs family."

In recognition of Buddy’s Lassie-like heroism, the dog and his best friends were to be at state police headquarters in Anchorage Friday afternoon, where Buddy will be honored for his heroism.

He’ll even get a prize — a silver-plated dog bowl engraved with his exploit.

He’ll probably be more impressed if there’s a fresh steak in it.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

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