Rescue dogs come to the aid of Horsham club members in beach training fun

At an end of their summer season Open Water training and exams, Horsham Life Saving Club members had a rare treat when they joined Littlehampton Wave Life Saving Club to meet a team of Newfoundland dogs and their handlers from Newfs In Action for a training session on the beach.
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All Newfoundland dogs are very strong swimmers and those in this group had been trained in some special ‘Newfy-rescue’ techniques. Their work up to now had taken place mainly in inland waters, so for most, this was their first foray into the sea and thankfully, after so many days of bad conditions, the weather and the waves were kind.

After much pampering and petting from club members and the public in the gazebos set up outside The Wave Leisure Centre in Littlehampton, club members were invited, after a safety briefing, to be ‘pretend casualties’ in the sea opposite Mewsbrook Park.

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The Newfs were each brought to the beach in turn by their handlers and demonstrated how they had been taught to rescue casualties either singly or in small groups. Once the dogs had got used to coping with the waves and then braved the new conditions, all the ‘casualties’ had the very strange experience of being towed ‘to safety’ in a totally new way – something very different for both the dogs and the very enthusiastic youngsters (and one or two much older ones who just couldn’t resist!).

Life savers from Horsham and Littlehampton meet Newfs in ActionLife savers from Horsham and Littlehampton meet Newfs in Action
Life savers from Horsham and Littlehampton meet Newfs in Action

Spectators included Royal Life Saving Society UK President Debbie Hunt, who had travelled from Kent to be present.

All dogs have an innate ability to look after themselves in water so the water safety message has to be, if your dog appears to be in difficulty in the water, don’t attempt to go to its rescue – it will be probably be more than capable of surviving. You may not and the likelihood of a Newf being on hand to help you is pretty slim.