As this father followed his beloved dog down to the dam, he knew that something was wrong. After all, in the nine years of owning Leala, David Kenney had never known her to act so frantically. Then, when they reached an opening, Kenney got a glimpse of one of the most horrifying scenes that a parent can imagine.
The Kenneys hail from the town of Glenreagh in New South Wales, Australia. The family consists of mom Lisa, dad David and their children Lani and Alexander. They also have a pet Staffordshire bull terrier named Leala.
The family have owned the dog since 2008, and the adorable pooch goes most places with them. So, when the Kenneys went to visit some friends in nearby Nana Glen in September 2015, naturally Leala went too. But for some reason, the dog began acting strangely.
While the family hung out with their friends inside the house, Leala suddenly barged in from outside. Uncharacteristically, the staffy frantically barked for attention, her fur drenched with water. Surprised at her erratic behavior, then, everyone stopped in their tracks.
On instinct, dad David decided to follow Leala back outside, and the nine-year-old dog led the doting father to a nearby dam. Only, once there, David set eyes on what is surely every parent’s worst nightmare.
“It was what I was wishing not to see,” David told The Coffs Coast Advocate in 2015. “It was a mixture of disbelief, horror and sadness, it was indescribable really, but then everything was a blur.”
Leala had directed them to the lifeless body of two-year-old Alexander, who was floating face down in the water. Fortunately, David and his friends retrieved the youngster from the dam and began performing CPR. Then, almost half an hour later, paramedics arrived on the scene.
Over at the house, Alexander’s mother Lisa had no idea about her son’s condition – until she heard the whirring sirens of the arriving ambulance. “I didn’t think it was my kid, I didn’t think it had anything to do with us and then I came to [see] a helicopter in the sky and the whole place just alive with police and ambulances and my son just lying there completely comatose,” she recalled to The Coffs Coast Advocate.
The helicopter rushed little Alexander to the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane. And only then did the paramedics warn his parents to expect the worst. “They pulled me aside and told me this is as bad as it gets, there’s not a lot of hope, you should prepare for the worst possible outcome,” Lisa told The Coffs Coast Advocate.
Yes, doctors told Lisa and David that Alexander might not pull through. And if he did, he would likely have some kind of brain damage. “From a parent’s point of view, it doesn’t get much worse,” Lisa said in her interview with The Coffs Coast Advocate.
But, just two days after doctors admitted him to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Alexander shocked everyone. In fact, he was doing well after they’d brought him out of an induced coma. Amazingly, he soon began to breath on his own and could even speak to his worried parents.
What’s more, David and Lisa were happy to see that Alexander was still their same, loving little boy. “The thing that I think got everyone was that he wanted kisses, that was the first thing he wanted – he wanted kisses off us,” David told The Coffs Coast Advocate. “It was quite miraculous that he came back so soon and so clear and fine and unchanged.”
Alexander’s inspirational recovery shocked even his doctors. Still, medical professionals said that if it wasn’t for David and his friends’ quick thinking to perform CPR, the outcome could have been very different. Thankfully, their actions provided the little boy with enough oxygen to prevent any major brain damage.
But while doctors hailed him as a hero, David laid the credit elsewhere. According to him, it was Leala’s instinct that had saved Alexander’s life. If she hadn’t alerted everyone to the situation, he said, who knows how long the toddler could have been left in the water.
“Without obviously the dog and my two mates, he would be…” the dad-of-two told The Coffs Coast Advocate, stopping himself as he reflected on the horrific reality of what could have been. “Everything that went along in its little series, what happened was just flawless with maybe a little bit of luck chucked in.”
Some dog experts have said that a canine’s instinct to protect children comes from a built-in pack mentality. Indeed, these experts agree that dogs have a clear idea of who their human families are because of the social structures dogs are used to in the wild. Therefore, dogs will go out of their way to protect one of their pack members.
It’s true, however, that some people consider Staffordshire bull terriers to be dangerous dogs. But in the English county of Staffordshire, where the dogs are from, people believe they have soft natures. Nicknamed the “nanny dog,” the canines have a reputation here for looking after kids and playing with them. So perhaps this latter stereotype rings true in Leala.
As for Alexander, he soon returned to his normal self. In fact, after the medical team released him from the hospital, he quickly began causing mischief. And despite his traumatic ordeal, his parents still had to discipline him as usual.
“You don’t want to rouse on him because he’s had a pretty rough time, but you’re blessed to have him doing these little ratbag things, being a little monkey and getting into trouble,” dad David explained to The Coffs Coast Advocate. “But you know, he’s cheated death, but he can’t get away with murder, you gotta do what you’ve got to do.”
So it’s safe to say that Leala went far beyond the call of companionship for her family. After all, if she hadn’t alerted everyone to Alexander’s plight, the spritely little boy might not have made it. As mom Lisa put it on Facebook in 2015, “Without her we wouldn’t have our little boy with us today.”