I have a similar story. I used to keep peacocks. One night I failed to lock them in the barn, and the next morning the leader of the flock was missing. I fretted for a couple of days, but my husband kept saying that the bird was probably just exploring the neighborhood. Finally, in frustration, I turned to the dog and said, "Where's the bird? Where's Danny Boy?"
My golden looked quizzickly at me, as if to say, "Oh, is that why you're so sad? I'll show you..." and off she ran, with her nose to the ground, criss-crossing my long driveway. She stopped with her nose in the grass close to the road. I walked down there and said, "Don't be stupid, that grass is too short for the bird to hide." Then I looked where she was pointing and found six tiny broken feathers that looked a lot like neck feathers. When my husband got home, he found the rest of the very dead bird in the brush across the road where a fox had dragged it.
I get teary when I tell this story because I'm sure the bird saved the rest of the flock by leading the fox down the drive while they escaped to their perches in the barn. Also, I do not know how my dog could track that particular bird when there had been 8 other birds running all over the place? How did my dog know that that was the bird I was looking for? and I'm so sorry that I told my dog she was stupid!
It gives me chills to remember this.
We adopted a 2 year old from Golden Retriever Rescue of Wisconsin in April. I thought I'd never have another dog after my other Golden died at 15 1/2, but I finally broke down and took on Max. He comes to the office with us every day and is just wonderful. He doesn't make us think of our other dog at all -- he's just different and wonderful in other ways. I do slip and call him Terra sometimes and wonder why he doesn't respond! :~)