B.A. Sam never has been taught to retrieve, but the dog proved to be a quick learner Monday.
The 5-month-old pup searched out and helped his owner tug a toddler from the icy waters of Stella Creek Monday afternoon.
“I didn’t even know he could swim until yesterday,” said Carl J. Elley.
Nicole Marlin, 2, was swept into the flooding creek north of Wolf Lodge Bay and spent about 50 minutes in the water before the dog found her, according to a Kootenai County sheriff’s report.
She remained in critical condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center on Tuesday.
Nicole Marlin, her grandmother and her father, Curtis Marlin, were visiting at a house on North Stella Creek Road when the mishap occurred.
Curtis Marlin and the girl’s uncle, Thomas Marlin, were working on some cars when they realized Nicole was missing, according to the sheriff’s report.
Elley, 62, and his dog, B.A. “Bad Attitude” Sam, live with Thomas Marlin.
But, Elley said, the Doberman-Rottweiler hound has anything but a bad attitude.
The man and his dog joined a swarm of neighbors, family members and rescue workers combing through the rushing creek water.
“I was in water that was knocking me down and (Sam) was swimming against the current and keeping up with me,” Elley said.
Elley said he found one of Nicole’s snow boots. “I went in (again) and my dog, he went in with me,” Elley said. “All of a sudden, he swam ahead of me and he reached underneath the water and there was her little shirt. He spotted her before I did.”
Elley grabbed the toddler, and deputy Ed Krause waded across the stream to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Cradling her in his arms, Krause crossed back over the stream and scrambled up the slope.
Nicole then was airlifted to the hospital.
Sam has been enjoying handfuls of dog treats ever since.