Brave golden retriever volunteers as a trained lifeguard

This is Baloo, a fully qualified rescue dog who patrols beaches as a lifeguard.

The sweet golden retriever, four, has been specially trained to watch over beachgoers and carry out rescues in the event of an emergency.

His owner and trainer, Simone Filesi, 33, from Rome, Italy, decided to start teaching Baloo how to handle himself in water from when he was a puppy thanks to his passion for the sea.

Now, Baloo is part of a whole pack of rescue dogs who patrol the beach, with just one of them being able to tow up to three people or even a dinghy with someone on it.

Simone, who is a teacher and volunteer lifeguard, said: ‘I would trust Baloo with my life.

‘The presence of the dog unit on the beach is very important, especially for children and teenagers.

‘For example, if I warn a young person that the sea is rough and Baloo is with me, it totally changes the reception of that warning of how dangerous the sea can be.

‘Baloo is an extremely playful and obedient character. He is very sociable and patient with children – especially with my daughter who teases him a lot!

‘I knew there was something special about him when I got him as a puppy, and as we began training him, I knew he would love to engage in an activity and so I chose to train him as a lifeguard dog.

‘The bond that has been created between us and the warmth that we receive from people on the beach repays all the sacrifices that we make.

‘He follows me and is able to understand emergency situations, sometimes even before me.

‘On a day with rough seas, he won’t enter alone but is willing to put his life in danger at the cost of following me and intervening. He trusts me and I trust him.’

Baloo spent a full year in lifeguard training, completing important exercises on both land and sea.

When the training has been successfully completed, the new life-dog is rewarded with a prize of a treat or a toy.

The dogs wear life jackets while on the beach, which act as harnesses for people to grab onto, allowing the dogs to carry them back to safety.

Simone said: ‘Our dogs on the beach have a totally different attitude to what they do on the ground.

‘While on the ground, they are more playful and distracted, but on the beach, they are excellent observers.

‘When we intervene with our dogs in a dangerous situation, we are the first to reach the person in difficulty, but then the dog helps us to bring the person back to the beach by making them grab onto the handles on their harness.

‘It’s very hard work but very rewarding for Baloo. He really enjoys it.’

These days, Baloo enjoys volunteering as part of the Associazione Cani Salvataggio, where dogs and lifeguards patrol beaches across Lazio and Sicily.

Simone added: ‘Lifeguarding with Baloo is a volunteer activity, where I use my free time and take time away from my family to help others.

‘Training Baloo is very important to me in everyday life, and he is always present wherever I go.

‘He is a very caring dog and I am proud of him.’

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