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The Daily Beast - Cool Canine Lifeguards - August 24, 2010

Toronto Star Picture Editor Wanda Goodwin highlights images of these cool canine lifeguards in Italy.

They leap from helicopters or speeding boats, bringing aid to swimmers who get into trouble off Italy’s popular beaches.

For these canine lifeguards, the doggie paddle does just fine.

Hundreds of specially trained dogs form Italy’s corps of canine lifeguards, are deployed each summer to help swimmers in need of rescue.

These “lifedogs” wear a harness or tow a buoy that victims can grab, or a raft they can sit on to be towed back to shore, and unlike their human counterparts, they can easily jump from helicopters and speeding boats to reach swimmers in trouble.

APTOPIX Italy Canine Lifeguards

Salvataggio-Italian School of Canine Lifeguards, lifeguard dogs of the Italian school perform a makeshift rescue operation at an international lifeguard meeting in Winterbach, Germany.  (AP Photo/Courtesy of Italian School of Canine Lifeguards) 

Italy Canine Lifeguard(2)

Mas the dog, and his lifeguard and school founder Ferruccio Pilenga, perform a rescue during a training at Isola D'Elba island, Italy. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Italian School of Canine Lifeguards)

Italy Canine Lifeguard(3) A terranova dog jumps from a lifeguard boat during a training in Isola D'Elba island, Italy.  (AP Photo/Courtesy of SICS Italian School of Canine Lifeguards)

Italy Canine Lifeguard(4)

 Alyssha the dog, and her lifeguard Donatella Pasquale, are lowered from a helicopter during an exercise at Lago D'Iseo lake, Italy.  (AP Photo/Courtesy of Italian School of Canine Lifeguards)

Italy Canine Lifeguards

Mas the dog, jumps from a helicopter ahead of his lifeguard and school founder Ferruccio Pilenga, during a patent test at Lago D'Iseo lake Italy.  (AP Photo/Courtesy of Italian School of Canine Lifeguards)


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When a person is congratulated on a job well done, that person feels pride in his/herself. Their self-esteem blooms every time they perform successfully. If you think dogs don't have that same sense of pride and accomplishment, you'd be wrong. In fact, those feeling in canines are generally more intensitifed than in humans. Shower a dog with praise just for returning with his favorite ball he cause him jump with pure joy in himself. I own a border collie who will make up jobs for herself when she doesn't have enough to do. I don't ask her to do many chores around the farm, so she herds the other dogs and sometimes the horses and her good intentions aren't always welcomed by the others. But she needs a job to make her feel worthwhile. She needs to feel a purpose in life. I think if more humans had a job that made them feel like they really had a purpose in life rather than "just a job" they go do everyday, they too would be happier all the way around. This is a very cool thing these dogs are doing and I'm sure they take great pride in their work. Good for them and those who train them.

oh em gee this is the cUtEsT website i have ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is my third Newfoundland and just LOVE them! They are soooooooo sweet and have soooooooo much character. They keep us in stitches.

awwww! I always knew dogs were our best friend!

In response to marie skinner: If I saw a dog and a person about to be hit by cars, I'd probably save the dog. People going to stop if they see a person in the road but most would just hit the dog and keep going (seen this happen several times).

BTW, how do you think researchers go about performing their experiments?? Hint: They don't start out on humans. If you take a medication, use a cleaning agent, or personal product, you can thank trillions of animals for giving their lives for us (and being kept in some of the worst ways you could ever imagine). The ways in which dogs - and many other species of animals - enrich and protect our lives are way too long to list. If humans were just a small fraction as selfless as animals, the world would be a utopia!

In response to Kat Terhune: Your animal "utopia" is not a utopia that I would willingly live in. While I do agree that mother nature would be perfectly well off on her own without human activities and would possibly be better off, I do not agree that animals are the wonderful selfless, giving creatures that you make them out to be. Their characters are as dynamic and varied as human characters are. That is to say, they can be as compassionate, caring and loving as any human if not more so and they can be even more cruel, violent, vicious and unfeeling then any human could be. To paint them as angels and the paragon of all that is good is a mistake I feel you are making Kat Terhune. You do realize that chimpanzees wage war the same as humans do. Only they tend to hunt down solitary members of opposing tribes in groups of 12 or more. Dolphins appear to murder porpoises for fun and orca's play games with their food before eating them. Sparrows commit incest and male lions kill lion cubs simply because they want to mate with the cubs mother. Need I go on? The animal kingdom is not a utopian paradise of "let's love each other and take only what we need!"

If humans were a fraction of anything like animals were, then well the world would be the same today. Just a lot more savage and less civilized. And by the way, I would save the human because it would be just so wrong if I didn't do what I could to save a fellow human.

To the people who think it's unfair to dogs: I have had several dearly loved dogs. There is not a one of them that wouldn't have leapt into any body of water to try to help a human that they could hear was struggling. Every single one.

If they're willing to do that untrained, for strangers, I don't think the dogs are unhappy. Trained dogs usually live with one human being (or more) who loves them very much, from everything I read. Dogs who are treated badly probably aren't as reliable as dogs who are content.

I think it's a very good thing. I also know two helper dogs who love nothing more than assisting their handicapped owners. Just my thoughts. I can understand why you disagree. :)

I'm on my third newf, they are truly insightful. They don't only rescue in water but also emotionally.
My female is 11 and she has been a therapy dog for years. She works with cancer patients, children with aspergers and
others with emotional needs. Her presences is so therapeutic, as soon as someone is crying she right in their face to help.

Wow these are real heros!!

I think I'd rescue the dog. Humans have been nasty to me, dogs have only given me unconditional love.

love these dogs! they do some amazing things!

Great post. I always enjoy seeing photos of working Newfies. http://PetDogPro.com

Looks like they're mostly Newfies....the black one on the back left looks like a Labrador/Newfie cross (got a classic Lab head)...I'm pretty sure the brown ones are either Portuguese or Irish water spaniels, though I may be wrong...I know they are NOT Newfies, though...They are all dogs bred to do this kind of work, and ones that are very unhappy not doing it. I am sure they are very happy and well taken care of...they're doing what they were bred to do.

I have a newfoundland, and I can not keep him out of the water. Even in the winter he walks out onto one of the frozen ponds and tries to break the ice to swim. In the summer he constantly pulls me and my nephews out of the water. After pulling us out a few times, he literally drags us off of the beach. This dogs were designed to do exactly the things they are seen doing here. (Ok, maybe they weren't designed to leap from helicopters...)

These rescue dogs are great, thanks.

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