Bird’s best friend: gentle lab rescues drowning baby bird

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The video begins with a Labrador retriever swimming toward us, presumably returning to its master with a mouthful of hunted game. But what happens next is quite unexpected.

“Boy, did you save a baby bird?” asks his owner.

As the dog reaches shore, it drops a frightened and wet baby bird to the ground. Somehow, in jaws powerful enough to crack bone, this canine has managed to swim across an entire pond without harming the tiny sparrow.

The outcome is actually not that surprising when you consider that retrievers are a dog breed developed specifically to gather the spoils of a hunt. A popular companion to game hunters, their main purpose is to sniff out birds shot from the sky and return them undamaged.

In fact, this gentle grip has an official term, called “soft mouth,” which is a coveted characteristic in hunting dogs. The technique is very difficult to teach dogs without an inborn temperament to do so. Along with the Labrador retriever, other noteworthy soft mouth breeds include golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, poodles, and Gordon settlers.

Hopefully this plucky retriever received a reward for its heroic deeds, perhaps a nice dog treat.

Soft, of course.