Animals

By James Somper

 

A group of giant dogs have been trained to become life guards.

The group of four furry Newfoundlands have been trained to life save and rescue up to 12 people in one go.

Lifeguards Storm, Sonar, Stanley and Walker live with owner and trainer Peter Lewin, 61, at his home in Leicester and have even been taught to use their soppiness to help support people with PTSD, anxiety and depression.

 

Peter said: “I’d trust them with my life.

“Whether it’s late at night in the cold and rain or in a lake on a sunny day, they’ll come to your aid in any situation.

“They’re more durable than humans and can work in pretty much any environment. They’re fantastic swimmers.

“They don’t judge anybody, they just want to help as many people as possible.”

Each of Peter’s four dogs are equipped with a special life jacket as well as tracking lights.

Any of the four can rescue up to twelve people from the water at any one time.

The dogs are specially trained to spot people in distress in the water and can swim out to them in their lifesaving jackets, allowing anyone to clasp on to one of the handles attached to each of the dogs.

 

 

 

Peter, a paramedic, started training Newfoundlands as rescue dogs 10 years ago after he read about them being used in the USA.

His hope is that one day his beloved Newfoundlands will be part of any lifeguarding team.

 

The furry foursome also provide emotional support to people with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder during open water swimming sessions.

Peter said: “The idea is that people connect to the dogs.

“Each of them has their own unique character and they’ll connect and bond with people who’ve been through the mill.

“It’s lovely to see the affection that people develop with the dogs after only just a few minutes in the water.”

Despite all being from the same breed, each of the dog’s has its own unique character.

Each dog undergoes a rigorous training programme of two swimming sessions a week as well as drills at home throughout the winter.

Peter said: “I love them because of the way they are, they’re loyal.

“They’re always wanting to be with me, we’ve got a strong bond.

“Stanley is a rescue dog and he can get very excited. He wants to help people all the time.

“Storm loves to be with people in the water, he’s very sensitive though.

“Sonar switches onto people with issues too, he connects with people very easily and seems to understand what’s going internally with people.

“He’s very calmed and relaxed.

“Walker is just learning the ropes and is becoming a really clever working dog.

“They’re a great bunch and have so much to offer.”