Meet Buoy and Beacon, Maine’s Heroic Lifeguard Dogs
Unleashing a New Lifeguard Brigade
Scarborough Beach State Park, Maine – A unique and furry addition is joining the lifeguard team this summer at Scarborough Beach State Park in southwest Maine.
Sporting four legs and a wet nose, meet Buoy, the 11-month-old Newfoundland dog trained to keep beachgoers safe. Buoy isn’t the first of his kind; he joins Beacon, another Newfoundland dog who began patrolling the beach last year.
Together, they are the only canine ocean lifeguards in the United States, setting an impressive example for other beaches and communities nationwide.
Dog Lifeguards: A Pioneering Initiative
Newfoundlands like Buoy and Beacon are renowned for their natural swimming prowess and rescue instincts. The duo underwent rigorous training with the American Academy of Canine Water Rescue, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that works to enhance water rescue abilities in dog breeds.
They’re trained to aid human lifeguards, and in emergencies, their role is to help bring both lifeguards and victims to safety.
Role of Canine Lifeguards
These canine heroes serve as “second responders.” In a water rescue scenario, a human lifeguard is the first to spring into action, followed closely by another lifeguard and one of the dogs, equipped with floating rescue equipment.
The dog’s primary responsibility is to assist in pulling the rescue device, with the victim and lifeguards onboard, back to the beach.
Park manager Greg Wilfert tells WGME, “People respect them. They come up and ask if they can pat them and we let them, and they’re very affectionate dogs.”
Strength and Ability: The Dog Lifeguard Advantage
Don’t let their soft, wet noses fool you. These dogs possess the strength to easily pull three or four people to shore. “They can tow a boat—they’re very strong swimmers,” says Wilfert.
The certification process for these lifesavers is no walk in the park. The American Academy of Canine Water Rescue trainers is certified by the Italian School of Rescue Dogs (SICS), an organization with over three decades of experience training nautical rescue dogs and their human handlers in Italy.
Canine Lifeguards: A Growing Global Trend
In Italy, beachgoers are accustomed to the sight of rescue dogs patrolling the sandy shores, and these dogs are even trained to leap from helicopters during rescue missions.
An impressive 300 SICS-trained dogs and their handlers patrol approximately 30 Italian beaches, marking a trend that’s slowly but surely making waves in the United States.
Wilfert notes, “It’s inherent in them to help when they see someone in trouble.”
So, the next time you hit the beaches of Maine, don’t be surprised if your lifeguard has four legs and a wagging tail. These dogs are not only making the beaches safer but also bringing joy and a sense of security to all who meet them.
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Story Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dog-lifeguards-maine-beach-180982371/