Water rescue is the umbrella term for the lifesaving feats of dogs like Newfoundlands and Portuguese Water Dogs (PWDs). Newfies are legendary in this area, crowding the history books with acts of courage in aid of humans. PWDs were primarily bred to work alongside fishermen retrieving nets and even herding schools of fish, but have in modern times also been highly successful partners in lifesaving teams at beaches and watersports destinations. Both breeds are strong working dogs with extraordinary lung capacity and swim-stroke propulsion, webbed feet, muscled tails that act as rudders, and waterproof coats that protect them in icy water.
A healthy, fully trained Newfie can swim over two miles and can keep a drowning victim afloat for more than an hour. He can bring a lifeline or rescue tube to a victim or tow an inflatable rescue boat with 10 people to shore. Where a human lifeguard must stay back from close-to-freezing water because of the danger of hypothermia, a Newfie can keep going. PWDs, in addition to performing lifeguard duties in many places around the globe, were handpicked and trained to retrieve baseballs batted into the sea for the San Francisco Giants, whose stadium sits on the Bay. Learn more at waterrescuedogs.com, website of the one-of-a-kind Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs.