The dog lifeguard is the newest addition to Italy's beach lifeguard posts. The Newfoundlands and Labradors that make up Italy's dog lifeguards are known historically to be strong swimmers, and the country's beaches are making use of their water prowess. There are more than 70 dogs in commission, and they work alongside their best friend, man (and woman of course!).
The dogs are trained specifically to look for signs of drowning. When a person, or multiple persons, need their help they spring into action. They are strong enough swimmers that up to three people can hang on to them as they are towed to shore. If a more dire situation arises, they are trained to grab on with their teeth and drag a person to shore.
The doggie lifeguards have proved their worth time and time again, and it looks like they are here to stay. Italy is not the only country to employ canine lifeguards. Scandinavian countries have used dogs in their efforts to save lives in the water for quite awhile. Other countries are now starting to take notice.
The dogs, that are trained from puppies until approximately two years of age, can also work alone, and for much less pay than their human counterparts. They are not looking to put their best friends out of business just yet as there are many areas where people swim and economics do not allow for a full time human lifeguard. The dogs can be especially valuable in these undeserved areas because of their ability to work solo.
I would not be the least bit surprised if no dogs allowed signs lining many of America's beaches were soon replaced with signs reading, "Dog Lifeguard On Duty!".
About The Author
Garett Flores is a pre-vet student and Cal Poly trained animal scientist employed as a veterinary assistant at a private small animal practice in Bakersfield, California. He has combined his love of animals and experience with computers to create a web page about animal husbandry and basic animal Pet Care for a variety of pets including but not limited to ferrets, lizards, snakes, turtles, rats, mice, and hamsters.
He also manages a Dog Breed site that serves as a reality based guard for pet owners looking to choose the right dog for their family.