Italian Canines Double Up As Lifeguards
To say that dogs are amazing animals is an understatement - They make awesome pets, guard dogs, guide dogs and now it turns out, even lifeguards, who leap from helicopters or speeding boats to save struggling swimmers in the waters off the beaches of Italy.
The canines, members of the Italian Lifeguard Corp. are specially trained by a number of of Canine Lifeguard schools, that have opened up all over Italy. It takes about three years of training before the dogs can officially work as lifeguards. Once ready, each trained dog is paired with a human lifeguard and put to work.
The dogs are either suited with a harness or have a buoy or small raft attached - So that the people in trouble can grab or climb aboard and be towed to shore safely. They make great lifeguards because they not only are able to navigate through any dangerous currents, but also, have more stamina and, are faster than human lifeguards. Also, since they do not get paid, they help save the cities a lot of money.!
There are currently 300 full-trained canine lifeguards on duty and while any breed of dog over 66lbs in weight can be trained, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Newfoundlands are the most common because they are naturally good swimmers. Italian officials estimate that these miracles on paws help save over 3,000 lives each year. Other European countries like France, have followed Italy's lead and started to train their own fleet of canine lifeguards.