We humans owe a lot to our beloved dogs. Apart from the love and companionship they provide to us, there are many people whose lives would be a lot more difficult without the assistance of police, military or therapy dogs. And now, here comes the story of the amazing Newfoundland lifeguards who work with the Italian Coast Guard, and are believed to save about 3,000 people every year.
The calm and loving temperament of Newfoundlands make them ideal candidates for this kind of high-stress work. Newfoundlands love the water and are said to regard their work as a game … though it is a game with high stakes. These canine lifeguards go through three years of training – which involves remaining on helicopters or boats, or running into the water from the shore – before they are allowed to dive right into the ocean.
Robert Gasparri, coordinator of the Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs, explained that part of their training involves following a specially selected buoy: “it is a buoy that goes by itself to a person in need of help, and (also) comes back to the shore by itself, choosing the best landing point and swimming through the safest currents.”
There are currently 300 canine lifeguards working on Italian beaches.
Their assistance makes the job of the Italian Coast Guard a whole lot easier.
Gasparri said, “the dogs increase the speed at which casualties are retrieved, to increase the security of both the casualty and of the lifeguard.”
The dogs’ calm, easygoing personalities mean that they do not panic easily – which is an important quality for them to have when they are working to save lives.
They are able to remain solid, steady, and capable, no matter what their job might throw at them.
They often patrol the water, accompanied by their human colleagues, to ensure that swimmers are safe.
The dogs are strong enough to carry a person and guide them safely to the shore.
Their work is invaluable to the Italian Coast Guard.
For all the amazing things they do for us – the lives they save, the love they share, the sunshine they bring to our days – we owe the canine species a debt that we can never repay. No doubt about it!
All images: Italian Coast Guard/Lifebuzz