Waiting patiently on the shore, one owner looked on as his Labrador swam out into the open water and splashed around. But when the dog appeared to grab something before making its way back, nothing could have prepared the man for what he’d find inside his dog’s mouth.
Rick Sauer is a native of Ashford, Connecticut, where he lived with his beloved dog – a Labrador named Jax. Indeed, Sauer could often be found exploring the great outdoors with his four-legged friend at his side.
Like many men and their dogs, Sauer and Jax were the best of friends and usually came as a pair. “I pretty much bring him everywhere I go, more or less. He’s my little companion,” Sauer told WFSB.
One of Sauer and Jax’s favorite pastimes was hunting, and the pair spent many happy hours chasing down birds together. So it’s safe to say that Jax was no pushover. In fact, when he wanted to be, he could be a stone-cold killer.
When Sauer and Jax weren’t out hunting, though, they frequently enjoyed a spot of fishing. Usually, the faithful dog would simply keep his owner company by the side of the lake. However, one day Jax served a much more important purpose.
Yes, the duo had been making their way to the side of the water when a strange thing happened. As they passed by some foliage, something stirred within, and without warning, a little bird dropped out of a tree.
“We’re just fishing a normal spot up here and we were walking by a tree that was relatively close to the water,” Sauer explained. “As soon as I walked by it, I felt the bird come right by out of its nest. I scared it more or less.”
The little bird had attempted to escape its nest in the tree, but it appeared to be flying the wrong way. So instead of touching down on safe, dry land, it landed right in the center of the water.
“I just watch it hover like 60 yards out to the middle of the water and it lands directly in the middle of the pond,” Sauer recalled. “So, me being the animal lover that I am, I feel bad for it.”
However, he decided against intervening. “I start thinking, you know, fish eats it, cycle of life, kinda cool to see,” Sauer added. “I feel bad for it, but what are you going to do. Like 25 minutes go by and it’s still struggling.”
As Sauer watched the bird continue to struggle, though, Jax attracted his attention. Because, while Sauer remained unmoved by the fledgling’s plight, the dog couldn’t take his eyes off of it.
At this point, Sauer decided he would step in. “I just said, ‘Jax get the bird,’ that I would say any other time if we’re hunting or whatever I do with him.” And no sooner had he uttered that command than Jax was off.
“He went right out there about 35-40 yards out in the middle of the pond,” Sauer continued. “He was kinda doing circles around it. I was like, ‘Get the bird,’ and the thing flapped its wings. As soon as he saw that, with his two front teeth he very nonchalantly grabbed the bird.”
As Jax swam back to shore, Sauer decided to film the unfolding scenes. However, to the untrained eye, it seemed like the dog had just put the bird out of its misery. So most people would have been forgiven for expecting to find a dead bird clamped between the dog’s jaws.
When Jax opened his mouth, however, Sauer found the baby bird, still alive and breathing. Moreover, although it looked a little bit shaken, there wasn’t a scratch on its body. Jax had transformed from hunter to hero.
Once the bird was firmly back on dry land, Sauer returned it to its nest, where the bird’s siblings were waiting. Their mom soon returned to make sure all her babies were well fed, too.
Following his dog’s incredible rescue mission, Sauer decided to share his extraordinary footage online. As a result, Jax found himself at the center of attention, as more than one million people have viewed their YouTube video so far.
And after seeing the footage, many viewers wanted to express their admiration for Jax. “That dog is a hero,” one of the messages read.
Others shared their theories as to how the bird managed to escape unscathed. “Labs have soft mouths and are usually trained not to bite down on anything they retrieve,” one man explained. “So, it is not very likely that the Lab hurt the bird at all.”
While no one will ever know what went through the dog’s mind, there’s no doubt that Jax could have killed that bird in one swift move. However, it seems that he took pity on it instead, and his actions have gone on to touch hearts all over the world.