The Story Behind The German Shepherd Who Led Police To His Burning Home

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi

April 24, 2016

On April 4, 2010, Alaskan State Trooper Terrence Shanigan became lost while responding to a serious workshop fire. His GPS froze up and he got turned around on the dark, winding, snow-covered back roads. That’s when he happened upon a German Shepherd standing in the road.

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Trooper Shanigan is an experienced dog sledder, and he instantly recognized that Buddy was trying to get him to follow him. His dashboard camera captured the entire dramatic voyage back to the home of Buddy’s owner Ben Heinrichs.


Said Shanigan:

He wasn’t running from me, but was leading me…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.

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The blaze occurred when Heinrichs was working on his truck and a spark ignited a pool of gasoline. Heinrichs suffered minor burns when his clothes caught fire, but was not seriously injured. He told Good Morning America at a ceremony honoring Buddy’s heroism that the fire was not the first time Buddy had helped to save his life.

He’s chased off bears for me while I was out fishing…He’s my hero. If It wasn’t for him, we would have lost our house.

When Trooper Shanigan arrived at the Heinrichs home, he found that the workshop was fully engulfed in flame, and that the fire was quickly spreading towards the home. Shanigan was able to guide firefighters to the rural property quickly enough to spare the house from all but a few scorched windowsills.


Buddy was the pup of a canine officer mother, and the Heinrich family has no doubt that he inherited her sharp instinct, bravery, and loyalty. Sadly, Buddy passed away several months ago after a lengthy battle with liver cancer. Though he is gone, he has certainly not been forgotten by his adoring family or the millions of people he touched with his heroic journey that fateful night in 2010.

The attention garnered by the incident made Buddy a national celebrity, and he spent the next several years accompanying owner Ben Heinrichs to local schools lecturing on fire safety. Buddy was a true hero to the end.

H/T to

Featured Image via House of Chappy

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Written by: Dina Fantegrossi

April 24, 2016

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