You are drowning. Imagine how you feel as the glimpse of a dog crosses your line of vision as you struggle. He is sailing down from the sky to save you. He is with the Canine Coast Guard off the coast of Italy and is charged with protecting the people who frequent the crowded beaches in the summertime. Thousands of swimmers each year find themselves in need of assistance from the Scoula Italiana Cani Salvataggio (Italian School of Canine Lifeguards).
Dogs trained at the Italian School of Canine Lifeguards become versed in jumping from helicopters and speeding boats. Each dog is paired with a human lifeguard who is their trainer. They practice by pulling their lifeboats along in the water filled with their fellow trainees before being sent out to rescue humans. It takes three years for a dog to be fully trained and there are 300 “lifedogs” in the program. They train any breeds that exceed 66 pounds; however, Labradors, Newfoundlands, and Golden Retrievers are most common because of their natural instinct for swimming. These dogs love swimming and retrieving, making them perfect fits for this job
Dogs make perfect lifeguards because they can contain the physical fatigue of a lifeguard and can retrieve those in danger more quickly. They can also hurriedly choose the safest currents and best landing points when heading for shore with a victim. The dogs also do not associate this with physical activity; they think it is a game. These dogs make these beaches a safer place to swim and enjoy the summer, and they love doing it!
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