On March 31, 2013 (Easter Sunday), Adam Shaw, his family and their dog Rocky — a Labrador retriever-Husky cross — were walking along the banks of the Saskatchewan River in Edmonton Canada when they noticed two young girls in trouble.
The ice was starting to break up and Krymzen, 10, had broken through the weakened ice and her younger sister Samara, 9, was trying to pull her out. Adam and Rocky charged down the bank to help. By the time they arrived, Samara had also fallen into the river.
Adam was able to pull Krymzen out, but Samara was now floating downstream, being pulled along by the current.
Adam and Rocky raced along the ice after her, but the thinning ice kept breaking and finally they broke through as well. They were able to get out of the water, when Adam pushed Rocky’s front feet onto the ice and then grabbed the dog who pulled both of them out. Adam said he was shocked by how cold the water was.
The younger girl was now in serious trouble and Adam was having trouble keeping track of her. Samara was so cold, she could barely keep afloat and had bobbed under the surface a number of time.
Adam realized the only way to save the girl would be by coaxing Rocky into the water. Incredibly with minimal encouragement, Rocky jumped in and swam to the stricken girl. Samara grabbed his leash and Rocky dragged her back to shore. When she was pulled out of the water, Samara was barely conscious.
When the paramedics and fire fighters arrived, Rocky — who was sitting beside the girl — actually growled as they approached. Adam said this was very uncharacteristic of Rocky who is normally good natured. According to Adam, he believed Rocky understood what was going on and was still being protective.
Both girls were rushed to the hospital and released the next day. But it was clear if Samara had been in the water much longer she would have died. A couple days later, the Edmonton fire department made a presentation to Adam and Rocky for their heroic efforts. Adam was awarded a fireman’s helmet and Rocky a large rawhide bone.
Read: Dog helps rescue two girls from icy river in Edmonton
What struck me about this story is the unusual intelligence displayed by Rocky. He had not been trained in rescue, but instinctively understood what he had to do. God created the animals with more intelligence than many of us give them credit for.
Balaam and his donkey
In Number 22, we run into another animal who displayed unusual intelligence. Balaam was a notorious false prophet who apparently had some knowledge of Jehovah. Moab was verging on war with Israel and their king approached Balaam offering him money to curse Israel. Balaam initially refused after God spoke to him, but when the King of Moab increased his financial offer, Balaam changed his mind.
The next morning, Balaam set out on his donkey to proclaim the curse. At a certain point in their journey they encountered an Angel of God which only the donkey saw and it refused to go forward on the path. The donkey refused to go forward and eventually just laid down. Enraged, Balaam got off the donkey and began to beat it and we read this interesting account:
27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick. 28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 Then Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now.” 30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?” And he said, “No.”31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground. (vs 27-31)
I have always presumed God just spoke to Balaam through the donkey, but now I wonder if God simply gave the donkey the ability to communicate what it was actually thinking.