To hear Sharyn "Jinx" Arthur tell it, the puppy was cute but didn't seem to be anything special when she first saw him.
But, as an animal lover, the rural Gold Hill resident was totally smitten by Jakob. After all, he was adorable with large feet, long legs and big, warm eyes.
Yet the Irish wolfhound certainly didn't demonstrate any characteristics reminiscent of a young Lassie, Rin Tin Tin or White Fang.
"Actually, he was really kind of dorky," she recalls of his puppyhood. "He was just a great big puppy. He didn't exhibit anything unusual."
That meant he was a bit flopsy as he played with her other dogs, running to her when the play got a bit rough.
"He was attached to me," says Sharyn, 64. "But I never expected anything like what happened."
She is referring to the evening of July 30, when she took a spin on her ATV on the 20-acre parcel where she lives in the hills just south of the Rogue River. Loping along behind was Jakob, then just a little over eight months old.
Sharyn doesn't recall precisely what occurred next, although she says her steering locked, causing her to panic.
"Instead of hitting the brake, I hit the throttle and I flew over the embankment and down into the ravine approximately 60 feet," she says. "I don't remember any of it. I must have flew off the quad and tumbled and rolled."
The retired Timber Products Co. worker surmises the quad bounced off her at one point, breaking her scapula. Her ribs, back and collarbone were also broken. One lung was punctured.
She lay at the bottom of the ravine, going in and out of consciousness.
"Jake must have seen me go over the embankment," she says. "But I don't remember seeing him right after the accident."
That's because he had things to do.
Back at the house, Dave Paxson, Sharyn's boyfriend, was snoozing on a recliner. He had been working in the yard and was taking a cat nap until Sharyn returned.
"Dave was sound asleep," she says. "He remembers Jake kept nudging him. He kept saying, 'Jake, go away.' But when he woke up, Jake kept nudging him and licking his face. Dave knew something was wrong, particularly when he couldn't see me or the quad."
Jake led Dave to the largely unconscious Sharyn at the bottom of the canyon some 300 yards from the house.
"That was right before dark," she says. "I was bleeding all over. My arm looked like hamburger. We have coyotes and bears. I would have been a good dinner."
Not if Dave and Jake had anything to do with it. Dave immediately called the Rogue River Fire Department, which deployed its paramedics.
In addition to her broken bones and exterior bleeding, she was suffering from internal bleeding.
"I remember seeing the paramedics coming down the embankment," she says. "I'm a tough old lady. But I survived because Jake and Dave saved my life."
She spent a week in a local hospital, returned home, then went back to the hospital after a lung collapsed.
Upon the recommendation of Rogue River veterinarian Mike Motschenbacher, Jakob will receive the "Companion Dog Hero of the Year" award at the annual Oregon Veterinarians Association conference on March 17 at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
Motschenbacher, 59, who has seen Jakob as he has grown — and grown — says there is no doubt the pooch deserves accolades from bipeds.
"It amazes me this dog could think, 'This is something I can't handle and I need to find someone who can help,' " the veterinarian says, noting he has never seen the like.
"He's definitely pretty smart," he adds. "When he comes into the clinic, he's kind of shy. He's a good boy."
In addition to his award, the Service Dog Hero of the Year and the K9 Dog Hero of the Year will be bestowed upon two other Oregon canines.
Jake, whose full moniker is Jakob Dylan, named after the son of folk singer Bob Dylan, is now 18 months old. The growing boy now tips the scales at 160 pounds.
While he had always received top-notch care, the bodacious pooch has received several steaks since he rescued the damsel in distress.
When Sharyn came home for the first time from the hospital, Dave was concerned the huge pup would be a bit too rambunctious around her.
"But when he brought him over, Jake smelled all my wounds very tenderly," she says. "He cried and whined a little, then he ever so gently laid his head on my lap."
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.