The Italian Coast Guard has a specialized K9 unit dedicated to saving swimmers in distress. Newfoundlands, a dog breed known for their loyalty and sweet temperament, are trained as part of these units, and act as lifeguards for the many visitors to Italian beaches each year.
These Newfoundlands jump from both helicopters and boats in order to help people in the water. It’s not an accident that this breed is specially selected to be part of this K9 water rescue unit. According to the American Kennel Club, Newfoundlands have “natural lifesaving abilities.”
The Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs, who trains the dogs, says their school is “the only one in the world” that certifies the dogs to jump from hovering helicopters into waves and stormy waters.
Newfoundlands’ calm disposition is critical in these high-stress, sometimes life-threatening situations.
Their strength and size are also important, since they can serve as “intelligent lifebuoys,” according to the coordinator of the training program for the water rescue dogs. They are trained to find the best route to help carry swimmers to safety.
The specialized K9 unit patrols the ocean regularly, so the thousands of visitors that flock to these beaches every year should feel a little safer knowing that these furry protectors are waiting to jump into action (literally).