They leap from helicopters and speeding boats. They roam the beaches watching for swimmers in trouble and fearlessly dive into the water when the call for help goes out. They are K-9 lifeguards and for them, the doggie paddle does just fine. Hundreds of specially trained dogs are serving as canine lifeguards on the beaches of Italy, France, and a number of Scandinavian countries. Even England and the United States are beginning to try these loveable and cute lifesaving canines. In Italy alone over 300 hairy-heroes patrol the beaches with their human handlers.
The most popular dog used for this purpose is the large and powerful Newfoundland. Uniquely fit for water rescues, this breed has large, webbed paws and a double oily coat that protects them from the cold water. Their large mass and big bones make them very buoyant and their huge lung capacity gives them super endurance. Plus, they LOVE THE WATER!
It takes three years for these dogs to reach expert rescue status, but they give many years of faithful service in return. Each year millions of people flock to the crowed beaches of Italy. According to the Italian Coast Guard, they rescue approximately 3,000 people each year with the assistance of their canine companions.
This exciting new series, Lifeguard Dogs, will recreate dramatic rescues, interview eyewitnesses and those who have been saved, and visit different training schools for exclusive access into what it takes to become a certified Lifeguard Dog. Join us as we go on patrol with the men, women, and canine heroes of the world’s various K-9 lifeguard units.