Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Let's get down to work

Newfoundlands are valuable members of beach rescue services in Italy and in France. The dogs are trained to jump out of helicopters and boats and swim to the rescue of struggling swimmers. They are credited with having saved several lives by taking lifebuoys to swimmers and towing them to safety. A strong relationship with the handler is fundamental, especially in the water. It takes three years to train a dog completely. The training is rigorous and only top dogs graduate but it's their natural qualities that serve them best. The flaps of skin between their toes make them strong swimmers, and their thick layers of fat insulate them from cold waters. The dogs get very excited when they see someone in the water — and that's a good thing. It means they react quickly and without hesitation when someone is in need of rescue. The four-legged lifeguards are always teamed up with human partners, but it's the dogs who do most of the work. They often pull several people in at once — even boats — to safety. These rescue dogs are heirs to a centuries-old tradition across Europe, where they've long been loyal companions to fishermen.
In previous posts I referred to two rescues which went down in history:
1. Napoleon is rescued from rough seas in his attempt to escape from Elba
2. the Newfoundland who saved lives after the Titanic went down


rosiero said...

It is so wonderful to hear of animals who seem to instinctively risk their lives for mankind. The fact that they seem to enjoy it too is amazing. I have seen one of these Newfoundland breeds in our local park - they are enormous - as big as a St Bernard - and have webbed feet, which obviously gives them an advantage in the water.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who gets the most recognition for the rescue; the dog or the human.

CJ xx

jmb said...

These are such great dogs but not exactly house pets. We had two beauties living near us for years but they had an outdoor dog run.

It's great to hear them being used for what they do best.

Mopsa said...

Newfies are wonderful dogs - if they didnt drool so much they would be on the top of my wishlist (after the Bernese of course). My Bernese have semi-webbed toes, but they are terrified of the sea and would bark desperately and forlornly if I got into trouble in the water, but I couldn't expect a physical rescue from them!

Flowerpot said...

There's one on a beach in Cornwall whose name I forget now but has hit the news on several occasions.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I hadn't really realised why they are the right kind of dog for the job. It's amazing to learn about this!