An Edmonton man and his dog are being hailed as heroes after they rescued two young girls who fell through ice on the North Saskatchewan River Sunday afternoon.

The girls, identified as 9-year-old Samara and her sister, 10-year-old Krymzen, were playing on the ice near the Rundle Park footbridge around 4:30 p.m. when they fell into the water.

Adam Shaw, 27, had been out on a stroll with his wife Kelsey, two young children and the family dog when they heard the girls’ screams.

“I yelled to them to try and get their attention, trying to tell them to hang onto the ice and I was going to come down and get them,” he told CTV Edmonton.

While his wife called 911, Shaw and his dog, an eight-year-old lab-husky named Rocky, scrambled through deep snow on a steep bank to reach the river ice.

Shaw managed to pull Krymzen to safety, but Samara was quickly swept away by the current.

Shaw yelled out to Samara, asking her if she could swim toward the ice. She responded that the frigid temperatures had sapped the strength from her arms and legs, Shaw recalled in a news conference Sunday.

The situation got even worse when Shaw and Rocky fell into the freezing water.

“It was breathtaking,” he recalled. “It was very cold.”

After several failed attempts to get back to shore, the pair managed to get back onto the ice, and again tried to get near Samara.

"I started to look around and I couldn't see her. She had gone underneath the water and I thought she was gone,” Shaw said. “She popped up ... down the river and she was still screaming and I started to run after her again.”

When they got close, Shaw put a leash around Rocky and nudged him back in the water.

Rocky swam after Samara, who managed to grab his leash so she could be pulled to safety.

Both girls were rushed to hospital where they were treated for hypothermia and released.

The girls’ mother, Miranda Wagner, said she learned just how dire the situation was while her girls were in hospital.

“Doctors said two more minutes, and Samara would have been gone,” Wagner said in a telephone interview with CTV News.

With both girls now home, Wagner said she hopes to meet their rescuer.

“I would just give him a big hug and tell him he’s my angel and that I’m so thankful and in my mind, a lot of people wouldn’t have done that.”

Rocky is also being hailed as a hero.

Calling Rocky an adventurous dog, Shaw said he wasn’t surprised by the dog’s actions.

“After it all happened, we were sitting on the shore and he's a pretty active dog, he's usually running around and stuff, but he came and sat down beside me and beside the girl and he didn't move,” Shaw said.

“When the rescue team actually approached us, he was growling at them, which is kind of out of the ordinary for him, so I think he was a little scared for me or something."

Officials say the incident serves as warning to stay away from waterways during the spring thaw.

“This is another harsh reminder of this time of year with our changing ice conditions,” District Fire Chief John Bower told reporters. “Unfortunately it’s a very dangerous proposition to be anywhere near our river at this time of year.”

For their heroic efforts, Shaw received a fire rescue helmet from Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block. Rocky received a rawhide bone.

Shaw said the incident didn’t really hit him until later that evening.

"My family came over and we started talking about it, how it could have gone a lot differently. That's when it started to sink in. It worked out well,” he said.

"It was a good ending to a scary experience."

With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Susan Amerongen and files from The Canadian Press